Want to Help Someone Change?

Do you want to help someone change? Fully accept them. When you accept other people as they are, it increases your influence in their lives. This seems contradictive.

Shallow logic says that if someone feels fully accepted, they are less likely to change. The truth is that a person is more likely to change by following the lead of someone who fully accepts them.

As a leader, you probably face the frustration of wanting people to change. Blunt confrontation often leads to hurt feelings, stubbornness, and drama. Remaining silent and ignoring problems is irresponsible, cowardly, and unkind. If you confront the issue, your assistance will likely be rejected, and if you avoid it, things will likely get worse.

What is the most effective approach when someone needs to change?

First, get clear on the facts. If you drop your judgment and become curiously objective, you have taken a huge step toward influencing change. Others are more likely to accept help if you come without your criticism. Instead of leading with advice and opinions, ask a few questions, shut up and listen with the goal of understanding them. Once they feel like you understand them, they are more likely to be open to your ideas and help. People generally open to someone who genuinely accepts them and truly listens.

A fear is that people might take your listening and understanding as approval for their behavior. My friend, your approval is irrelevant. Effective leaders know that sustained change in others is driven by inspiration, not fear of disapproval. Your role as leader is to inspire, serve, clarify, and understand others. People will accept your help and influence and change when they believe that you truly care about them.

Obviously, there are dangerous and dire situations that require a commanding abrupt intervention and response. I suggest that those are the exception, and that a patient understanding approach is the most effective way to influence sustained change in others.

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