Recently – I’ve been asked the following question:
So how do you influence people to change?
It’s asked in different ways. It’s been asked by friends and strangers in a wide array of contexts.
And I’ve been asked this a LOT in the past couple of months.
The tone of the voice and/or the look in their eye seems to expect me to provide the magic bullet that makes everyone do their bidding.
My response has been to provide the techniques I tend to use (questioning, listening, figuring out where they are at and why)….but at the end of the day, they have to meet me part-way.
They always seem disappointed in the answer.
Because it is not a magic bullet.
It IS time-consuming and requires building relationships and repetition vs. one and done.
And sometimes, you just can’t.
Because you are the wrong messenger.
Because there are no environmental factors either nearby or far away that supports what you are asking them to do.
Because the environmental factors AGAINST what you are asking them to do are much stronger.
Because that may be just the wrong person and, if other environmental factors are at play, may just need to be worked around or removed.
Or….if the environmental factors are against you and the person is in a specific spot of power and there is no way to work around these things, it may just be that you need to remove yourself.
All I’ve been able to do when answering that question is tell them what I’ve tried.
What worked. What didn’t. Why.
But at the end of the day – I have to be met part way by the person and supported by the environment.
Otherwise, I’m just banging my head against the wall.
It’s never the answer people are expecting.
And maybe they are looking for me to be the magical change fairy. And to sprinkle the magic fairy dust on them.
And I’d love for that to be the case.
But we can only control what we can control.
I can’t control others (as much as I want to sometime).
I can’t control the environment, though I can do my best to model what I want to see.
ANY “control”, any change, starts and ends with me.
Am I modeling that change?
Am I asking them to do something I wouldn’t (and haven’t) done myself?
Am I providing consistent, practiced repetition over an extended period of time?
Am I able to demonstrate the benefits of the change in my own world?
It’s the best I can do.