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You’ve Changed But They Don’t Notice?

A Changed Man, Woman, or Person

Have you ever trimmed your hair and most people don’t notice?

Even worse, you’ve made significant behavioral changes, and it seems like no one cares or acknowledges them.

The same is true for almost all changes.  We think the changes we make are momentous, or at least obvious to everyone. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, others are simply not paying attention, and view you through a habitual filter.

This is especially true of behavioral changes.

How do you get people to see you differently? Try being a Changed Person/Changed Woman/Changed Man. If you are facing the following challenges, this technique works!

You have taken on a new assignment, and you want people to see you as really taking hold of it.
You have been in the same company for awhile, and people treat you like you’re in the same role as the one you started in, and you can’t seem to break through.
You’ve made what you think are significant behavioral changes, and no one seems to notice.
You want to make sure your efforts to grow are acknowledged!

The Technique: A Changed Man, Woman, or Person

Often in a coaching assignment, I hear the complaint that my leaders have made changes, but no one seems to be aware. Sometimes, I, as a coach, do follow-up 360’s and have people tell me they haven’t noticed anything different, even though I know the leader I am coaching has been doing a lot.

The problem is this: The human brain is lazy. It prefers to view things habitually, rather than having to consciously consider things. So it will view you as “the same” until there is a wake-up call to reconsider.

The below is a technique that opens people’s eyes to seeing you in a non-habitual way, and makes them more likely to consciously notice differences in behavior.

It’s Called “A Changed Man/Woman/Person”

This technique is adapted from a technique originated by my friend Gregg Ward, and described in his first book, “Bad Behaviors, People Problems, & Sticky Situations” (Thank you, Gregg.)

It works best following/during:

During coaching
After a management retreat, workshop, or event
After a vacation
Just before/after a promotion or role change

Here’s What To Do:

1) Make attention-grabbing comments:

For example, you come back from a retreat and say, “It was helpful/though-provoking/transformative, and I’ve gotta say I am a changed person.” Or, less fervently, “I’ve decided to make some changes.” Or, you say, “New role, new way of looking at the world – time for some new behaviors.”

2) Make physical, visible changes:

Do this in addition to any behavioral changes. People are far, far more likely to notice physical changes than more subtle behavioral changes. They don’t have to be directly related to your goals, although they should be in line with them. They could be things like:

Rearranging your office or changing the pictures in your space
If you always wear a sweater to meetings, wear a jacket
Change your hairstyle, jewelry, accessories, meeting notebook/planner, etc.in an obvious way
If you’re a man, grow a beard or shave something off
Wear a pair of new, obviously-expensive appropriate shoes
Come in to/leave work at a different time
Change the agenda of a standing meeting
Attend a meeting you wouldn’t normally attend, or have lunch with someone different in a place others don’t expect you to be

3) Tell them you’re a Changed Person/Man/Woman:

If or when others ask why you’ve changed, say, “Well, I just went through ‘x’ and I’ve decided to make some changes.” Or even, “I’ve been evaluating things and decided I wanted to make some changes in the way I do things here.”

4) Use the plural form:

You don’t have to be specific, but you should use the plural form – “changes,” not “a change.” “I’ve decided to make some changes” is a cue for people to look for other changes.

A visual change or verbal calling-attention-to-change can break people’s habitual expectations, and call attention to the fact that you are actively working on change. The physical, visual, and stated changes are concrete, and make people much, much more open to perceiving other positive, potentially internal or behavioral changes, as they see them as part of a larger process.

For example, if you see an old, rundown house all of a sudden get a new landscaping set up, and a fresh coat of paint, it is very easy for you to begin to wonder – even assume – that someone is probably remodeling the inside, too.

These verbal and visual cues become a trigger for people thinking “He/She is doing something different.”

From a brain standpoint, this process brings people’s perception of you out of the habitual centers in the emotional part of the brain up into the conscious, reasoning, cerebral cortex, where it can be altered.

So paint the outside of the house! Be a “Changed Woman or Person or Man!” People will notice.

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Cynthia Burnham.