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Emotional Connection

After taking on the role of evangelist, we have a tendency to (metaphorically speaking) jump on our white horse and start taking prisoners. After all, we now know the one true way, and it's our duty to straighten out everyone else! Why is this a problem? Let's take a moment to consider how we feel when we see someone else in our organization riding down our row of cubicles on his metaphorical steed. Our first instinct is survival—run for the nearest restroom and wait until the warrior has passed. I've never known anyone in any organization to run with open arms to the latest torchbearer, shouting, "Change me first!"

Change is hard. Usually we resist it. Under even the best of circumstances, change takes time. So let's combine the Fearless Change pattern Fear Less with a new pattern, Emotional Connection—then, as Stephen Covey recommended, 1 each of us can stand in the other's shoes.

So easy to say, so hard to do. Making the Emotional Connection requires all your relationship skills, because you just want to get on with it. You want to see the grand improvements you know are just over the horizon. If only these people would line up and follow you! Unfortunately, they won't—or, wait a minute, maybe this is fortunate! Consider how the world would be if everyone simply adopted the latest and greatest ideas, without consideration. We would be living in chaos. We need resistance to slow down the world and give our conscious minds time to chew on the innovation.

Do that for yourself. Slow down. Embrace the resistance. Listen to what the resistors say. Instead of battling those naysayers, "listen" them into agreeing with you by trying on their shoes. Use your powers of imagination to answer the question, "Why would an intelligent, well-meaning person tell me this?" We know that most decisions are not rational, made by our linear conscious mind, but rather emotional, made by the powerful, multitasking unconscious. That's where your connection should be made. Keep your PowerPoint and logic handy, but reach down, hold out your hand, and show your best empathetic self. In the final analysis, we're all human, just trying to make it to the end of the day.

Do this on a personal level as well. Show a little empathy for your own struggles, and realize that you can argue for losing weight, exercising, stopping smoking, but unless you address your emotional needs and consider that enormous unconscious piece of your own decision-making, you will struggle for success.

Some interesting research supports the emphasis on emotional decision-making. 2 In a recent study, subjects were asked to choose the "best" car from among four vehicles, each rated in four different categories (16 variables to consider), where one car clearly had the best attributes. In this "easy" situation, logical decision-makers were 15% better at choosing the best car than subjects who were asked to go with their feelings about which car was the best. In another version of the experiment, researchers made the decision more complex—each car was ranked in 12 categories. Subjects asked to go with their feelings were 42% better than logical deciders at selecting the best car. Many other studies also have shown how our logical minds become overloaded by too much information.

If you're facing a simple transition, logic wins; however, if the complexity is overwhelming, as is the case for most change initiatives, you need to create an emotional connection to facilitate the decision-making process. The best way to implement the Emotional Connection pattern is to tell a good story that shows your understanding of other people's needs and challenges, indicating how your solution will address them. A compelling story is always convincing, even in a simple situation.

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