Connect with people before you try to change them

As a change manager your job is really to manage people, by managing them through a change to the way they normally do things, inspiring them to be better and influencing them to move away from the status quo.

Once you realise that your job is about the people, not the technology, or just doing your job, you can learn to connect with each person, understand them and find the best way to not just sell your ideas on how the change should happen, but also listen to their needs and incorporate it into the change.

The more people you can connect with, the easier the change will be.  The easier the persuasion will be. Do you want that? Then keep reading.

First, I want to talk about what to avoid.  By going into a meeting with a group of people you want to talk about change  with and going straight to the business of change, straight to the guts of it before connecting with them, you are putting these people on the back foot from the beginning.
This is putting them into a state of “fight”, their base reptile brain takes over and they will automatically try to resist you and therefore the change you want to implement.

Woman holding up two faces on sticks, looking across to the emotions on the two faces

The part of the brain you want to communicate with, is the evolved part, the part that is logical, that weighs things up.  You also want the limbic brain to feel like you are talking about something safe, something that will be of benefit.   In other words, you want the gut feeling of the people to be positive towards you.

I am going to share with you one way to connect with people quickly and easily, so they trust you, and therefore listen with their logical brain, instead of their reptile fighting brain.

Traditionally when we try to connect with people, we talk… trying to find some common story we have – think football, weekend activities, school and background. The thing that we all do unconsciously is look for common physical traits, body language, spoken language style and breathing.

If you can recognise and match a person, or a group of people’s unconscious traits, you can instantly connect to them with little or no effort.  In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) we call this rapport building with Matching and Modelling.

One of many examples of this is to match a person’s, or a group’s body language.  That is, if the people or person you are talking to is folding their arms then, also fold your arms. If they are leaning forward or back, also do this.  Stay in this position for a few moments, maybe a minute.  Then uncross your arms, or take a drink of water.  If they also uncross their arms, or take a drink of water, you know you are in rapport, and have made that connection.  They now feel safe with you and will listen to what you have to say about change.
Team business men creating a bridge by holding each other, over a cliff

Combine several methods of modelling for even faster rapport.  This will allow you to connect with all the people from the janitor to the CEO of any organisation that you are dealing with.  Once they trust you enough to listen to you, you can start making the case for the change you want to implement, or need to implement.  Having people on your team working towards the goal allows you to implement the change faster, have better relationships with the people you are changing, and persuade them to do what is required to implement that change without getting a stick out.