Using Caring Communication when dealing with Change:
During the past few months, a trend has emerged regarding the information clients are requesting that I cover during my presentations and workshops. Almost always, the topics of workplace communication and managing change come up during the pre-event conference calls. Therefore, it is no surprise that these two subjects are inexorably linked. We cannot effectively manage change without communication and if we don’t communicate effectively, we experience frustration and resistance to change. There are a myriad of change realities that organizations and individuals are trying to grasp. How do you confidently communicate change? For organizations, the biggest concerns relate to greater transparency, compliance, accountability, cut-backs and budget constraints. How do organizations communicate these issues without inciting fear and negativity? Unfortunately, blunders occur because change is communicated hurriedly; without careful consideration, thought or care.
At the heart of it all is that people and organizations as a whole are trying to achieve one thing: Buy-in. The question is: “how do I get people to buy into the change process?” The most important and often neglected fact is that the responsibility for any communication always lies with the SENDER. It does not matter whether communication is face-to-face, email or telephone. It is not the receiver’s job to try and decipher meaning. The sender needs to be clear and adapt the delivery of their message based on the receiver’s preference and style. In order to masterfully communicate change, as the sender and initiator of the communication, the key is in knowing how to deliver the news with sensitivity. The old adage “before I care how much you know, I need to know how much you care” must be recognized in the sequence of communicating change. Emotions first. Logic second. Here are the steps, in order:
- Recognize that change is an emotional experience
- Address the receiver’s fears
- Tell the recipient/s how the change will benefit THEM
- Show them at least one greater benefit of the change that makes sense to them, versus the maintaining the status quo
- Ask for input and actively listen to responses
- Tell the recipient/s how the change will benefit the organization
- Involve the recipient/s in the change process
- Celebrate the accomplishment of moving through the change as a team
If you follow these eight steps, plan your delivery and sincerely take the time to think about how the receiver will interpret your news regarding change, the likelihood of a negative reaction will be significantly diminished. Remember, you have already established a reputation based on your current repertoire of communication skills. When you alter your style, people are often suspicious and may doubt your new approach. It takes time to build credibility as a great communicator.
Photo: Time For Change by Salvatore Vuono