Reticular Activating System (RAS) is the filter that says, “Yes, listen,” or “Forget it,” and it’s guided by our previous experiences, ideas, thoughts, feelings, and the power of influence. To influence, we have to learn to appeal to someone’s RAS to gain their attention and to influence an outcome. Stories are one way to do that. And probably The Best way.
The RAS is also very sensitive to the stress response and can shut down our logical centers when under stress.
It is impossible to manage people solely through command-and-control methods. Sequence Is EVERYTHING. We must accept the reality that there is a sequence to how people process information and more importantly, accept ideas.
“The true measure of leadership is influence … nothing more, nothing less.”
The Three P’s: Predict, Preempt, Prevent
Stop and Think
Too often leaders and communicators fail to think through how an audience might respond to a message before they ever deliver it. Instead, they are focused on what they want to say and how they want to say it.
The next time you craft a message, take a moment to ask yourself if there is anything about that message that might trigger resistance. If there is, think about what you can you do to preempt that response to prevent it.
Leaders planning for change perceive their decisions as the next logical steps or strategic moves. But those who receive the information recognize it as something different and potentially scary. Many leaders forget that and are surprised when their people aren’t as excited by the plans as they are.
A good approach to soften resistance to change is the three Ps mentioned earlier. First, predict what part of the plan will face the greatest resistance and by whom. That will allow preparation for and implementation of a preemptive strategy to prevent or reduce the resistance.
Often that preemptive strategy involves as little as a few conversations with key people before announcing a change. That gives others a chance to respond to the plan or provide additional input. Getting buy-in before an announcement is a good strategy versus waiting to see how those affected respond.
Lastly, a preemptive strategy is usually best executed through a powerful story that helps the team understand the purpose for the needed changes.
The Big Mistake
The wrong sequence is one of the biggest mistakes people make when they communicate. When we’re asked a question, the tendency is to answer in the here and now with no context or framing. When that happens, the brain is forced to create its own frame of reference. Too often, because the brain in fear drenched at this point – that frame is negative.