If you had to choose a country that would resist gay marriage, Ireland would be a safe choice. At least in the western Europe.
Yet somehow, in 2015 a national referendum legalizing gay marriage miraculously passed.
As Seth Godin writes in , it was a heartfelt video made by Brighid and Paddy White about having a gay son and what the referendum meant to them that helped break through the resistance and inspire this change (in addition to other factors).
Incidentally, the Whites are Roman Catholics in their 80’s. They’re also human.
There are different ways to approach resistance to change. As illustrated in the gay marriage referendum, a good human story is one.
However, before you can overcome resistance and drive change forward, you’ve got to understand and communicate the reasons behind it.
Is it skepticism due to change fatigue? “Oh, not another one!”
Or fear due to expected or unknown consequences? “They won’t need my skill set after this merger!”
Perhaps it’s a fear of losing one’s voice during the transition?
Whatever the reason/s behind the resistance, the best way to deal with it is to understand where it’s coming from. If you want to lead people through it, that is.
To begin, you need to be aware of the & of the people you’d like to inspire.
Here are a few practical examples:
If you want their active support, you’ve got to know how to inspire them. To inspire people, you’ve got to get the narrative right.
What’s the story behind the change?
Where did it come from and what’s the purpose?
What are the intended benefits and how is it going to work – the WHAT, WHY and HOW.
To activate the emotions, there’s no better way than a good story.
Do you think the referendum would have passed without the White’s story?
Coming back to the fear of losing one’s voice, the need to be heard is human. Under any circumstances, change or no change.
Therefore, they need to know that during the transition and potential chaos, there will be mechanisms for their voice to be heard.
For a change to be successful and really “stick”, it needs a sound ‘communication strategy’ – one that is flexible is built to be adapted to new and emerging needs and concerns.
For example, make a part of the weekly team meeting about the change and have a platform to voice needs and concerns.
Warning: If you listen to these needs and concerns, you need to act on them. Otherwise, they’ll quickly see their voice
your concern as meaningless.
If you want them to embrace and, in the best case, help you drive the change, they’ve got to be aware of its benefits. For you to know what benefits to communicate, you’ve got to know what drives and motivates them.
For example, if you know a few reports want more responsibility or authority, tell them there’s likely to be a leadership vacuum during the transition – “a fantastic opportunity to step in and take a leadership role”.
Take Action Today
Here are 3 actionable strategies to help you overcome resistance and inspire change:
- Get clear on the WHAT, WHY & HOW and inspire them with the story.
- Create ways for them to voice new needs and concerns (e.g. weekly meeting).
- Highlight the potential benefits at every chance.