Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Repeating The Same Thing Over And Over Isn't Going To Make Them Listen

Do You Ever Find Yourself Repeating Things To An Employee (or your child)?

When you find yourself in the situation of repeating yourself for the first time (you've said it once, they didn't respond, and now you are saying it a second time), it's important to realize that the thought process / personal commitment wasn't really there for them to change their behavior - the first time. So rather than saying it again and only getting frustrated with their lack of response, it's time to lead them through the process of commitment (even if it means a few extra minutes with them).

Remember, slow is fast when it comes to relationships.

Commitment takes shared meaning - an understanding of "why" as much as understanding "what". And in many cases it requires actual personal participation (even if on a very simple level) through their getting an opportunity to provide input into the solution, or at least being heard.

Commitment from others to your idea doesn't take you telling them. No instead it takes "being heard and understood".

And once your employees (or anyone else) feels heard and understood, (not agreed with, but understood) and believes that you have at least considered their point of view, it's amazing how quickly they can and will get involved and commit to the solution.

On These Issues, Invite Them Into The Process . . . Don't Exclude Them.

So, invite those whom you are trying to lead into a discussion - share with them why you are stating what you are stating and invite them to share their feelings. The key though is that you must listen . . . empathetically. The solution doesn't have to change (but it might). But by being heard they will become considerably more committed in their own mind to the solution and the process you are asking them to participate in.

For example, A couple of months ago, I told my kids to clean up the horse manure in our pasture as part of their chores. Yeah, it's a lot of work, but it's not "hard work" per se. Being the loving children they are, they agreed to do it. But in truth, they had made not internalized the effort or committed to it, because all they could see was the barriers, they didn't get a chance to speak their mind or really get a chance to understand my reasons.

So over the past month and a half, I've been hounding them to clean up the pasture. I would get OKs, but no action ever really resulted. I failed to listen to them, understand their obstacles, their issues, and truly invited them into the process. there was no shared meaning /no shared agreement. They were agreeing because I told them to, not because they committed to it.

The Solution Is Leadership And A Commitment To Include, Not Dictate

In most cases (especially in business), people try to buy commitment with pay. But what they don't realize is that by doing that, they aren't getting commitment to the job, they are getting commitment to the pay. There is a big difference, and you don't have to go too far down any Main Street in America to see employees who are getting paid (often quite well) with little or no commitment to what they are doing.

So, all that being said, there are two things to gaining commitment to a process or idea.

- Have a open dialog about it - sharing the facts as you see them and your feelings and opinion and inviting them to do the same.
- Provide a solution and / or ask them to contribute a solution to the discussion and find the best solutions together.

This is more work than telling - and it is work that most of us try to avoid. But this is Leadership. Dictatorial direction works fine to a certain point with employees (and in my case) kids, but eventually they revolt back. And yes I understand that sometimes for safety reasons, there is no time for discussion, but those are rare.

Whenever possible, whether you are working with your employees, your spouse, your kids or anyone you are trying to "influence" in any way, take few minutes and discuss - the results will amaze you. Because as a result of your discussion, not only will you get a whole new level of commitment, but any discussion that you have to have in the future over failure to fulfill the agreed upon tasks will be completely different than any one you have currently. Because they won't only have let you down, but they will have let themselves down - turned their back on their own commitments.


  1. Very well written! Let's get it in other languages. I'm following you. @agnewmultimedia

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