For decades, I have been a proponent of, and keynoter in the field of, Spirituality in the Workplace. There seem to be different names for it these days: the heart of business, corporate social responsibility, conscious capitalism, patient capitalism, bringing the heart to work. What it means, underneath all of the words, is that we recognize that we have a responsibility to care about each other, and the earth, and run our businesses in a way that end up with a net plus — not just increased profit.
What, exactly, are the skills we need to help make a difference, to help people choose to do ‘the right thing’? I’m going to offer some new thinking that’s in line with my biases.
WHAT SKILLS ARE THE DIFFERENCE THAT MAKE THE DIFFERENCE?
At the very least, we need to be able to influence/lead with integrity. What does this mean? It means we don’t push change, or buying, or ideas just because we believe they have merit, without enlisting buy-in from our audience. I’m suggesting that along with our beliefs about doing the right thing, we must consider changing some of our long-held beliefs about how to influence others.
Unfortunately, we have a belief that if we offer the right data, in the right way, to the right demographic, that people will buy, or acquiesce, or agree. Yup: I”ve got the important data that you need – now let me tell you about it and explain to you why you need it.
But that premise is false as we’ve seen time and time again: in our daily lives, in how we run our businesses and how we sell and market. Yet we continue to use the same approaches and expect different results.
Why doesn’t this model work? Because people don’t make decisions based on data: we listen through biased filters, and all decisions are made according to our internal values/criteria/beliefs (There is no such thing as an emotional decision, even if it looks that way to an outsider.). We do not choose to do something that goes against our values, so all behavior is a rendition of our beliefs in action. It’s a problem because often, our choice criteria are unconscious.
When we create data-driven vehicles for marketing or change management, we have no idea if the mode, the message, the presentation, the actual verbiage, go against someone’s internal criteria. As a result, we have no idea how our message will be received. That means, we’re either lucky or we’re unlucky. Bad odds. And it also means that with the best will in the world, with the best message, we are dependent on luck for our results.
THERE IS A WAY TO INFLUENCE WITH INTEGRITY
But there is a way to have folks open to change and use their values. Instead of offering data, let’s help them decide to make a difference, choose to treat their colleagues with care and respect, lead with a collaborative spirity and trust, donate because it’s the right thing to do, turn off the water because the world needs each of us to be sustainable.
If people don’t already have those values, or have these values stored in some unconscious way, how do we help instill them? Because that is what we need to do. And not by giving them good data.
Let’s help them recognize all of the internal decision issues they need to address in order to come up with sustainable, values-based behaviors they can buy-in to and take action on. Let’s use Facilitative Questions (a new form of question I’ve developed to help people uncover their unconscious criteria so they can examine it or change it) to help folks make new decisions, or re-weight old beliefs. Questions like:
How are you playing your part to help the earth – our habitats and animals – thrive? What would stop you from being an active participant in a sustainable universe?
How would you know that collaborating with employees in a way to allow them each to be a leader will give you and your company a richer environment in which to grow? What would you need to trust to recognize that by facilitating leadership and creativity among all levels of staff your business can make more money?
What would you need to know or believe differently to be willing to contribute more to organizations that are helping the environment or problems experienced in disaster areas? How would you know that you could trust that your money would be used in a way that would make a difference? That a contribution would make a difference to you, personally?
What would need to be different for you to be able to meld your company’s work-life balance recommendations with your need for revenue – and how would you know that employees who have a balance will offer you (and your clients) a greater level of commitment and creativity?
Those are just a few of my Facilitative Questions to help you think about raising awareness. My material (Buying Facilitation™ ) has been used in the sales environment until now. But the premises and skill sets are meant to be universally applied: until or unless people choose to reconsider all of the elements within their status quo, and can find a way forward that doesn’t disrupt their status quo irreparably, they will do nothing.
Rather than push data and attempt to manipulate the situation through good content or placement, help buyers manage the idiosyncratic decision issues they must address internally. It’s a good way to help people get to the very core, the very heart of the matter and create real change.