Make Change Personal

Change is hard. Even the most agile of organizations have to slave over it. Above all else, the acceptance, adoption, and embodiment of change collectively involves thoughtful communication…and a boat load of it. The difference between those organizations that do this really well and those that simply give it a bunch of lip comes down to one thing (IMHO): how personal the communication gets.

Long before carrier pigeons, telegraphs, telephones, faxes, Email, the internet, texting, web and video conferencing, and social media, there was this really crazy mode of communicating. It was called face-to-face. I know; weird, right?! But as antiquated as it seems – as hard as it is for you to even imagine – there were some benefits to this once revered practice.

First of all, the sender knew with a great deal of certainty that the message was delivered; there were no questions about whether it hit the trashcan unread or whether it was given only cursory consideration.

Secondly, it was harder for the recipient to misunderstand. Not only could one hear the sender loud and clear (no static or technical blips), but they could also read their lips and notice even the most subtle of bodily vibes…the non-verbal cues. One got the point on and between the lines.

C: There was a good old fashioned staying power to these messages. It carried more weight…it stuck. If someone found their time worthy of yours, there was an implicit understanding that the exchange was important. It was much harder to shake the indelible impression left by that exchange; today we can simply obliterate the message with the click of a button…literally.

IV – it was more customizable than any other form of communication ever available to man. If delivered on an individual level, that message could be molded and manipulated to be entirely relevant to that individual alone.

Finally – and maybe most importantly – it forged a human contract of sorts.  Often it began and ended with a handshake, a smile, and a head-nod. There was eye contact and the rare opportunity to peer just a bit deeper into your partner’s (or adversary’s) soul. And when all was said and done, you either agreed or agreed to disagree. Either way, you agreed.

You want change? Look for certainty, clarity, stickiness, relevance, and agreement. And because face-to-face communication generally gives you all of those, why not get busy with it? Bring it back from the days of old. Build awareness and momentum around change not through some frigid Webex powerpoint presentation; light it up with a good old fashioned one-on-one sit down: your senior leaders with their lieutenants, those lieutenants with their managers, the managers with their staff, and the staff with their peers.

Make it personal – cascade it – and change will not only come, but it will last.

Image Credit: erikadotnet (via Compfight)

Note: This Post Was Subsequently Featured in the “Let Go and Lead Series”

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  • http://www.cmoe.com/blog/engage-and-elevate.htm Susan

    Seems like the most people do nowadays when it comes to face-to-face communication is to have meetings. Meetings are useful, sure, but when they’re not done right, they don’t really allow people to communicate properly and hash out any problems.

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