Leaders Tell a Story

In the last week I have worked with 2 different people who are struggling to get their message across. They each have an idea and are being blocked by another persons’ apparent stubbornness.

In each case when they analysed what was happening they discovered that the other person was not in fact being stubborn, but they were reacting emotionally to an inexpertly delivered message.

What to do if you are being blocked.

Anyone in work needs to be able to influence others. But if you are speaking the wrong language then it doesn’t really matter how good your idea is they won’t be able to understand you.

One language mis match is Originality (new idea) vs. Tradition and known (experience)
If you have a new idea and you are trying to influence someone who has a preference for the traditional and the way we have always done it, then try couching your idea in a story or in an anecdote of how it has worked somewhere else.

For example; Richard wants to solve a problem by modifying a piece of equipment at a worksite to make it portable. His boss is worried that making it portable will also make it easy for staff to “borrow” and take it home on weekends so that it might just disappear or not be available when needed. This is a very useful piece of equipment for the home handy man. His boss has had experience elsewhere of what can go wrong with portable equipment.

Richard wants to try a new idea and no amount of shouting, arm waving or bluster will change his bosses mind.

However a new experience will.

Richard is now bringing his boss to another business which has portable equipment and also has effective controls around staff “borrowing” the equipment so that it does not disappear. He is giving his boss a new experience to draw upon.

I love using stories when I coach as stories give my clients a new experience to draw on and this allows then to easily see a new way to solve a problem.
Fairy tales are a powerful way that we do the same thing for children,
e.g. If you lie your nose will grow longer (Pinocchio)
If you make up stories and sensationalise then the wolf will get you (The boy who cried wolf)
See the inner beauty of other people (Beauty and the Beast)

So if you are struggling to get your message across because someone has an unfortunate past experience then tell them a story or give them a new and more useful experience.

Now, what can we do about Cinderella…?

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