How to deal with people who are reluctant to change

You’ve probably been in this position before: sitting in front of your boss or client, with a design concept that you’re super excited about. It pushes the boundaries a little bit. It’s a little trendy. 

We like it, but…”

They’re reluctant to take a big risk. It can be disheartening to hear and easy to take it personal.

So how do you handle that?

There’s a lot of good advice out there but here’s a few things that have helped me deal with someone who gets upset when things rock the boat.

My goal is that you’ll gain a better understanding of who you’re designing for and help you both and get to a good point with whatever it is you’re working on.

First, what’s the root cause?

This just takes a basic conversation. It doesn’t need to be accusatory or playing a game of twenty quetions. Simply have a discussion to find out what that other person is thinking. Where are they coming from? Are there expectations that they may have had that didn’t exactly come out right away? Or maybe ones you blazed over?

I’ve often found that spotty communication can be a culprit here.

Once you have this nailed down, it might help you turn around and create a little bit of game plan. You can take what you’ve learned and figure out how to apply it moving forward. 

How can you better prepare them to see your work?

Set some expectations on what you’ll be presenting before its presented. This way, you can manage some concerns up front or reinforce that what you’re doing is accomplishing the project goals. This can show that you’re listening to any concerns and even addressing some of them right away. 

You can even plan out how you’ll address any concerns as the design process goes on, while continuing to make changes or adjustments. 

If you’ve made it through these two steps, then you’re already making good headway. Sometimes, it even strengthens the relationship between you and the person you’re doing the work for.

Remember: pace yourself

When things get back on track, it’s easy to get excited again. And when you get excited, it’s easy to start moving a little faster and pushing through the design process a little quicker. 

But remind yourself to slow down. If somebody’s reluctant to change, it’s easy for them to slip back into that mindset after you’ve worked to move past it. When things start to move faster, it might make them feel like they’re kind of losing control again.

So baby steps are the key here.

Make sure that you constantly listening. That you’re constantly managing their concerns are having being able to respond and explain why you’re doing things the way you’re you’re doing things. Keep taking baby steps and move slow. It doesn’t have to be super slow, you obviously need to get the project done but the point here is don’t go fast.

Bend, don’t break

Alot of times when we’re fighting for something, we always fight for it 100%. It doesn’t always need to be that way.

If there’s some common ground that you can the person you’re working with can find, it can make them feel like you’re working with them instead of against them. 

People enjoy being a part of the solution. It reinforces that they’re being listened to and taken seriously. When that happens, it can push a design to a better place than maybe either one of you thought was possible.

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