Chapter 64. The Path to Change: Facts and Feelings

Mary Lynn Manns

“They just won’t change.” How many times have you said this in frustration? If you have, let’s think about how you are trying to persuade people.

As an engineer, you pride yourself in being analytical. You can make a solid case with an organized collection of data. But when others don’t respond with a desire to change, you might think it’s because they just don’t understand—so you offer more data, more facts, more logic.

However, it’s likely that your listeners do understand. They just don’t care about your data as much as they care about something else that is more important to them.

Consider the word “care.” What one person cares about is not necessarily what another person cares about. For example, although you are providing data that supports a process change in the organization, others may push back because they care more about the learning curve, the time, and the potential risks along the way. They might be thinking about previous changes they believe are similar—because these didn’t work, they worry your idea won’t either. Care…believe…worry. You might not see these feelings as rational, but they are strong, influential, and cause people to dig in their heels. None of us are Mr. Spock from Star Trek. None of us are totally rational. We make decisions based on information and how we feel about that information. ...

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