Saturday, 26 February 2011

Talking to Martians

When I first started as an independent consultant I loathed simplistic generalisations about customers used by my clients. They didn't seem to relate to human beings and complexity, nor my experience as a customer for their services.

George Kelly, founder of Personal Construct Psychology, argued for reflexivity - a process of stepping into other people's shoes and considering the other side of the equation. In his case it referred to clients. In NLP we talk about perceptual positions: first (me), second (you), third (external person), meta (helicopter position) to view and experience all the angles.

One of the changes in fostering change and innovation is the people factor. How do I interest other people and ignite enthusiasm for the proposition?

Firstly it's useful to consider our own reluctance and resistance to change and what we need to encourage us to shift. That isn't enough, as generalising out from one specific to a group is as dangerous as viewing them as 'Other' or 'Martians' who are alien to us.

Secondly it's useful to answer the 'What's in it for me?' question that people think consciously or unconsciously. Their motivation may be different from ours, so research and discussion helps illuminate this area.

Thirdly we can show respect for what matters to particular groups.

Brian Malow illustrates this point well:

He also illustrates how an 'enemy' group can unite people who seem not to work together:

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