When I speak at seminars and conferences, I often get asked questions surrounding the topic of change. Here are a few examples or variations of the questions:
- How do I convince my partners to change their minds about social media?
- All the partners agree that we need to change, but the senior partner doesn’t want to. How do the rest of us convince her otherwise?
- I’m a recent grad and I just started working at a practice that has been around for a long time. The owner and the staff are pretty set in their ways. I want to change lots of things, but I get push back when I make suggestions. How do I get the owner and the staff to see that they need to change?
I usually respond by saying “…. there is a magic potion down in Baton Rouge called: Comment puis-je changer l’esprit des gens. Pour the potion into the drink of the person you want to change and wait a couple of weeks. They’ll eventually come around.”
I’m kidding… I don’t say that (out loud).
The truth is, I don’t have a clear cut answer. So I do what gurus do when they don’t know answers to questions.
And that is, I answer the question with a another question so they can figure it out for themselves. Brilliant! I know.
Here is how I usually respond:
Let’s say I’m a pediatrician that is having a hard time convincing parents to vaccinate their child. I’ve already brought up the issue during each wellness visit and discussed it at length with them, but the family won’t budge. So I come to you for advice. What would you suggest is the best way to change the parent’s minds?
This usually gets me off the hook. But I don’t re-framce the question back at them so I can get off the hook. The purpose is to get the person to realize the answer is complicated and can’t be solved with a one-size fits all approach. Moreover, it prompts the person to begin drawing from personal experiences and their knowledge of the situation (i.e. personalities, office politics, employee dynamic, partner relationships, etc) to find the best approach.
For some, it will take a year long trust building relationship before they are ready to hear what you have to say. For others, research, graphs, numbers and science will do the trick; for others, a powerful emotional story will get them to head into the direction you want them to go. And for others, you may never be able to change them no matter what you do just like some parents will never see the risk of not vaccinating, regardless of one’s efforts.
So, how will you get people to change in your medical practice?