It can feel like we spend a lot of time trying to make things happen. At work, most of the forces already in motion will mobilize against that.
People don’t resist doing what we want them to do because they’re opposed to us. It’s not about me. At least not unless there’s some history. No, there is the momentum of what’s familiar, what I know how to do, the established process. I’m feeling productive. I’m working on the goals set out for me.
So we can spend a lot of our time pushing a rope. We’ll pay for it in stress, a lot of effort for little return, and often having an impact on others that creates that history and distrust that I mentioned. We also become convinced that people who cooperate with me are allies. Everyone else is an opponent. More history.
One way to cut down on struggling is to ask questions. This takes us out of a fascinating hobby: attributing motives to people based on our assessment of what we see and what it means to me. It brings us back into now. It brings us back to a more objective, and shared, understanding of the stituation.
We could spend time with the people who need to be engaged in our thing – the project, the implementation, the change, the new initiative. Really get to know what they do, the constraints they experience day by day, and the cost of change for them.
Beware of your own temptation to ask questions that box people into making a commitment. That’s cross-examination, not inquiry.
Watch how the urge to push others to change comes up from inside you. What might be driving that?
You could even ask, “If you were trying to achieve this objective, starting from your function, what would you recommend?” Oh, and then listen. But you knew that.