It’s 6:40 pm on a Monday night. Instead of being at home on my couch watching The Backyardigans with my girls before their bedtime, I’m sitting on a folding chair in the gym of our daycare. About 20 other parents, mostly moms, are seated around me. A couple kids play on devices and are shushed now and then when they get a little loud.
We are all waiting to hear news on the changes that are happening at the daycare. A month or so earlier we were informed by a letter that they would be switching locations from their country lot in a former school just outside the city to empty space in a downtown school.
As any parent knows, changing a routine you have for your kids sucks. Once you have a good thing going you don’t want to see anything disrupt it.
As I sat through the meeting and listened to the new information, discussions and questions, I was reminded how much more important the way in which we provide people new information is compared to the information itself.
I love our daycare, I really think it is the best in town. It has been like a second home for my kids. The care providers and environment are top-notch. And I understand the reasoning behind their decision to move. Logically, just as their Board of Directors saw it, it makes complete sense.
But as Jill Bolte said, “Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think.” I could not feel right about the decision.
And much of this stemmed from how it was presented and it is something we see in companies all the time. The information was mostly about how it would be best for the daycare in the long-run, and while I understand that is paramount for them, I’m only thinking about how it will affect me and my family right now. And when those two stories don’t connect, it makes it difficult to feel good about.
This is an elusive skill that every leader needs to master. You need to learn that when you present information to other people, whether it is customers or your team, the information is not about you or the company – it’s about them and how it affects them. They are going to process it through their own beliefs and see how well it fits in with their own story before they decide whether it’s “good” or “bad”. And whatever decision they make will influence how committed they are to you afterwards.
This is why it is so vital to consider how you frame the information you are providing and take note of the words you are using. When people can see themselves in the story you are telling then they take that information as their own.