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Have you ever watched a well-intentioned but unprepared person speak up in a meeting to suggest some needed change? Sometimes it's ugly, sometimes it's funny. Without proper planning a change-related conversation can be terribly difficult. In people's minds change represents stress, risk and a lot of extra work. If you want them to fully hear you and positively process what you're saying, there's some homework you need to do long before you start speaking up at a meeting. Here are ten fast and useful tips to help you prepare and initiate a great change related conversation.
First, ask yourself if you really want to do this. Like it or not, you can't always aggressively pursue every little issue you wish to address. Remember to choose your battles wisely. Number two, consider your odds. For example, think about the leaders above you in the organization. Based on what you know about them and their recent decisions, would you expect them to support your position? Next, stick to the facts. Don't lead with emotion, opinions, or innuendo. You start with, and faithfully stick to, the facts.
Four, if you're going to have a friendly fight, bring your friends. Do the leg work an find out where everyone stands on the issue before the meeting. The more friends you have, the better your odds. Five, turn lemons into lemonade. Be able to articulate how your position actually helps the opposition. It's difficult for others to disagree with you when your solution in some way helps them. Next, make your position a no-brainer for the leadership team. Can you articulate in a few short bullets how your position supports the company's higher level goals and objectives.
If not, you've got trouble. Also, be sure to admit your culpability, and no blaming others. When you avoid blame, and admit your role in the situation, the opposition is more likely to be positively engaged in the discussion. Eight, validate points you agree with that are held by those not supporting the change. Try to find some part of their position that you can accept. Your goal is to build some honest mutual respect that will help them want to listen to your position as well. Nine. Always offer solutions, not merely problems.
If you're going to raise difficult issues, you need good ideas for answers. Have something articulate to say about how we might change the status quo on this issue. Otherwise, consider biting your tongue. Finally, get ready to volunteer. If you're going to be silly enough to ask a bunch of people to spend their finite time and energy on some new change effort, you'd better be the first one standing in line ready to donate your time for the cause. Change is inevitable, it can be fun and it can be terribly stressful. Before you begin advocating for some possible change I want you to seriously consider these tips.
Together, they will make your case as strong as possible.
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