In my last post, I suggested 6 brain barriers that limit successful change in churches, ministries, and organizations. Often when leaders plan change for their organization, they simply plan the change itself and neglect planning how to communicate the change. I believe, however, that if you want your change to stick and you want to minimize disruption, you must begin by creating a brain-friendly communication plan.
In my next five blogs, I suggest a brain-friendly tip each day that can help make your change sticky, all grounded in recent neuroscience findings. Here’s tip 1.
Step into their shoes
Neuroscientists have learned that often what we say we will do we don’t, and what we say we won’t do, we often do. Of course it doesn’t take a brain scientist to figure that out.
But they’ve discovered that when the part of the brain just behind your eyes lights up, the orbitofrontal cortex (Falk et al., 2010), it can accurately predict future behavior. This part of the brain gives us the ability to see another’s perspective by stepping inside their shoes. It’s called mentalizing. As we think about ourselves or think about others, we engage this part of the brain. And what we do in the future is correlated with it lighting up. So when your team takes your perspective and when you take theirs, you can help move the change forward.
So as you begin to create a buy-in plan, think about how you can step into your team’s shoes. Try to discern their perspective of the pending change by asking yourself questions like these.
- What are their concerns?
- How do they feel about this change?
- What do they fear?
- What do they think is going on inside your head?
- What might be their biggest objections?
Better yet, ask a few key people for their perspective about the change.
Also, ask yourself how can you create an environment so your team will feel safe to discuss the change. Feeling safe can create a toward response (versus an away or resistant response) which will make your team more open to the change (Whiting et al., 2012).
Falk, E.B., Berkman, E.T., Mann, T., Harrison, B. & Lieberman, M.D. (2010) Predicting Persuasion-Induced Behavior Change from the Brain. The Journal of neuroscience?: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 30 (25), pp.8421-8424.
Whiting, J., Jones, E., Rock, D. & Bendit, X. (2012) Lead change with the brain in mind. Neuroleadership Journal, (4), pp.1-15.