if you have ever given or received troubleshooting help over the phone then you know just how difficult it can be. “now, you should see a menu that says ‘tools’ in the top right.”

“i don’t see anything.”

giving directions this way assumes that the person on the other end of the line sees the same things that you do. the only appropriate response in this situation is to say, “ok, then tell me what you are seeing.”

in the world of change management, often times those in charge of ensuring success fall into the same trap. they spend most of their time trying to articulate their vision and producing marketing materials and communications intended to show everyone how great the new changes will be. but if both sides aren’t looking at things the same way, the best result is confusion and the worst is confrontation.

persistently pressing the same messages over and over of how much better the changes will be does nothing to alleviate fear and anxiety of those who don’t share your vision. it’s like repeatedly telling someone to hit the red button when the person on the other end of the phone isn’t seeing any buttons at all. to bridge the gap, you have to start with understanding what others are seeing. it’s not the easiest way because you can’t just create one set of talking points and distribute then throughout the enterprise for everyone else to parrot. it involves having a human-to-human discussion and being able to unpack their words and feelings.

no, it’s not easy. but it is certainly the most effective way.