Five Top Tips
Have you ever given the best advice but someone did not follow it? You may have been really passionate about the difference you were going to make. Changing people’s behaviour is hard work. Whether it’s trying to give recommendations to a client, customer, friend/family, co-worker, employee or even your kids, here are 5 tips that get real results:
1) Firstly, FIND OUT what is the person’s MOTIVATION. Why do they do something? What are their reasons for not wanting do change? Why would they want to change and try something new? An example from a workplace scenario: advice was being shared about how an older person could stay healthy, safe and independent in their home. They had a scatter mat by their couch. When they were asked why they had a mat there, the person said because they didn’t want to get the rug dirty, since they often ate supper on their couch, while watching TV. Understanding the person’s WHY was helpful in giving relevant recommendations. People are more receptive when you have a conversation with them, finding out their perspective before giving suggestions.
2) Secondly, INCLUDE the person in the change planning. They need to “buy-in” to the solutions presented. Is it a ‘fit’ for them? Do they think they can make the change happen, and follow-through themselves? Sometimes people are willing to take some steps for change, in reducing risky behavior but not eliminate it. Including the person also helps you gage their ‘READINESS’, which can help how you frame the information. People need to be part of the conversation, not just be ‘talked at’. I have witnessed people really “dig in their heals” when the ‘advice giver’ was not including them in the process. Having a conversation, and not a one sided lecture, helps open up people’s readiness for following the information you are sharing. I also call this the ‘community approach’ instead of a clinical or authoritarian style of communication.
3) Thirdly, RE-WORD your recommendation to be a POSITIVE MESSAGE. You may think that listing all the worst case scenarios for why someone should change would do the trick, however negative consequences often don’t motivate. People don’t think ‘THAT’ will ever happen to them. It’s often easier to take steps TOWARDS something, instead of AWAY from something. Positive messaging takes practice! I’ve noticed that some ‘exercise’ programs have changed their messaging to use the words ‘Activity’, or ‘Health & Wellness’ since many people have negative responses to the word ‘exercise’. Another example from a community program providing information about preventing slips, trips and falls; people often do not think they will fall, it happens to other people. Changing the messaging to be positive (Stay Healthy, Safe & Strong, or Independent, Stay Living at Home) helped people be interested in the new information. A person must be open to listening if they will hear and follow advice! Changing your wording to positive messaging takes practice! Try to re-word a message to what they ‘SHOULD DO’ instead of ‘what not to do’.
4) Fourthly, RESPECT the person’s decision. They might not be ready to take steps towards change yet; they may just be ready to listen and think about it. When people feel pushed, they often do the opposite of what you want them to do. When a person makes an informed decision, knowing that they have a choice, it’s easier to make the right choice. People have the right to live with some risk, even though this is hard to accept. We think of course the person would want to change for the better, but how many of you exercise or ensure you have some activity every day? We don’t always do what we know we should. I have witnessed a complete transformation in an attitude towards change, when the person felt respected and free to make their own informed choices.
5) Finally, the Fifth tip is FOLLOW-UP. Sometimes experts drop ‘great advice’ and then walk away feeling good about themselves. Don’t just drop advice and take off. …..Or a way to give this advice in a positive way: “Check-in with a person to see how you can support their decisions for change”. Do you know if the person has the tools, resources or supports in place to make a change, or maintain it? Sometimes people need some encouragement or follow-up along the way (still respecting their choices, and not a pushy follow-up). A person may just need a ‘touching base’ phone call after having time to think about the information. This can also happen in the form of a satisfaction survey, where opportunities for additional impact can come up. At a later time a person may be ready to take steps and actions, but now don’t know where to start. Follow-up can make all the difference for your program to be a success!
Adding these five tips or steps into your advice process, or information sharing can impact real results! You can also track these result changes, if you prepare your evaluation to include metrics or pre and post indictors. Asking people how they felt about the advice is another way to track if you are impacting an improvement in yourself and in those you are trying to help.
1) Find out the person’s motivation, or their ‘why’.
2) Include the person in the advice/change process.
3) Re-word your recommendation as a positive message.
4) Respect the person’s choice and stage of readiness.
5) Follow-up with the person.
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About the Author
Patricia Regier is a learning experience designer, and sought after speaker. She brings twenty years
of experience working within the non-profit sector, developing programs, building collaborative partnerships and providing workplace education. Her Master of Adult Education and BA in Psychology pairs academic knowledge with practical experience. REGIER EDUCATIONAL SERVICES’ mission is to support managers and directors by ‘training the trainers’. We understand that many organizations don’t have training departments and staff development impacts the agency’s purpose. To request more information about learning and development opportunities please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org