People seldom accept having to do something without any form of push-back.
That push-back is observed in children as their parents force them to eat mom’s cooking before indulging in the ice cream in the freezer. It seems the habits built by allowing a child to constantly push back against authoritative figures affects their adult interpretation of being forced to do something they don’t want to do.
Envision yourself sitting next to a friend on a bus ride. Whilst scouring for topics to spark conversation, your friend makes an honest attempt at doing so by pulling out their phone and tilting the screen toward you. They’ve decided to share a video with you, and even in reading this, you may very well feel the entrapment of this contrived situation.
Some people can’t stand watching videos that others make them watch. The video may be entertaining, but they will be bored. The video may be educational, but they won’t learn a thing. A vast number of people around you will internally reject anything that they are made to do when they’re left without much room for physical push-back.
At the root of the disappointment, there seems to be a perceived loss of autonomy. Them not being able to control whether or not they watch the video (due to a desire to also maintain their likability), makes them watch but reject the content that they are exposed to. They essentially turn into a hollow form of themselves as they laboriously sit through a video that’s longer than it needs to be.
Explicit Demands Are Likelier to Be Rejected
Let’s now make an effort to take the example of being forced to watch a video on someone else’s phone and broaden the perspective. What can we learn from people’s lack of desire to commit to things they have no say in? You’ll meet people who have a tendency to reject things that you ask them to do. Even if your intentions are good, people don’t like being told what to do without a chance to rebut. Explicit demands for attention do not work effectively in increasing the likelihood of making people do the things that you want them to.
You can’t ask people to laugh at your jokes, and can’t negotiate with a crush of yours to be loved back by them. Striving to be explicit in your management of the ones around you seems to be a misstep that many leaders take. Explicitness is easy to reject; its edges are too sharp. You should recognize a desire for autonomy in people quickly, and refrain from explicitly asking them to ignore that desire. Keeping this in mind, we are left with the option of empowering the ones around us and attempting to align their interests with ours.
The Quick Cycle of Presenting Reasons and Gathering Feedback
Shaping the behavior of the ones around you while still allowing them to feel a sense of control over their own actions is a difficult thing to do. That goal is rooted in enticing them to believe that whatever you want them to do is a good idea. Explaining your reasoning for why things must be done in the manner that you propose can help. If managing a group and attributing tasks to members of your team, ensure to always make an attempt at allowing the roots of your ideas to grow inside their minds, rather than forcing a full fledged thought into their fertile soil.
Break your ideas down, and separate out objective truths from your subjective desires. Good ideas stand strong on their own accord. If your idea has objective truths within in, then learn to voice those objective truths prior to selling the whole idea to those who listen.
There are even objective truths behind the example of getting people to watch videos on your phone. As mentioned prior, the friend who pulls out their phone on the bus ride can cite the length of the trip as his excuse to share a video. Perhaps the video will help kill some time and give you something to talk about.
Perhaps it will educate you on the destination which you’re headed toward together, and enrich your mutual experience together. Communicating the objective reasoning behind your propositions allows others to adopt the sense of an idea being good. Be explicit in your objective reasoning for asking people to do things that you want them to do. Be sure to refrain from voicing things that may be understood as self serving and subjective.
After you do, give your audience a voice and let their concerns be heard. Control is the name of the game. When someone voices a concern which is taken seriously, it maximizes their sense of control in the situation – even if you do nothing tangible related to their concern.
For instance, the friend who attempts to show you a video may first gather your input through the voicing of their objective reasoning for pulling out their phone. Should they adjust how they show you the video (e.g. skipping to the interesting bits), or which video they show you (e.g. gathering the sense that you’re not interested in elephants taking baths), you’ll be likelier to watch the resulting product.
Listening to people after you give your objective reasoning for asking them to do something gives them a sense of ease surrounding the situation in which they are in. It is a powerful tool in allowing them to discover the better traits of your ideas. People’s disdain for watching your family videos from the past weekend is lessened if you give them a good objective reason to do so, and involve them in the process of determining whether they should watch.