Change Leadership Secret – 40 – Do A Reality Check

Change Leadership — Secret # 40
Do A reality Check

Reality is nothing more than a collective hunch. —Lily Tomlin

What I Need to Know

When characterizing a person’s change response, the change leader must be aware of differing views of reality. When Lewin described his concepts of forces and life space, he stipulated that they are dependent on people’s perceptions, which he called “cognitive structure.”

When I introduced the concept of change response analysis, I mentioned that people respond very differently to the same forces. There are many reasons why people respond differently. They may have different needs, levels of extroversion, openness, or risk tolerance—the list goes on.

But another reason merits further discussion. People may respond differently to the same forces because they actually do not see the same forces. One person sees one force, another person sees another force, and a third person sees the forces as identical. For example, the figure on the opposite page shows a train in motion. Is the train coming or going? Or is it even in motion? It might be interesting to ask several people and see how they respond.

One way people unintentionally create their own realities is through heuristics and cognitive biases. A heuristic is a “rule of thumb” or pattern that people create to respond quickly to similar situations. A cognitive bias is a tendency to think a certain way. People adopt different heuristics and cognitive biases as shortcuts to avoid more difficult analysis and take quicker action. When they do this, they create different realities for themselves.

What I Need to Do

Be cognizant of people’s differing views of reality.

Decide what is more expeditious: (a) helping the customer within the reality the customer has created, or (b) helping the customer see a different view. Each situation is different. Sometimes you will be able to operate easily within the customer’s mental framework. In other situations you will have no choice but to show the customer evidence of another reality.

Be on the lookout for your customer’s reliance on biases and heuristics that may prejudice her views. Often, once a person realizes she has used an invalid assumption, she will reformulate her conclusions.
As irrational as people’s realities may seem to you, their realities are very real to them. Imagine yourself in their situations and try to see what they see. If you were that person in that situation, what would you do? Remember, the question is not what you would do in that situation!

Action Summary

  • Always assume people see the same thing differently.
  • Understand the logic, regardless of its soundness, used to arrive at conclusions.
  • Put yourself in the other people’s shoes and see what they see.
Change Leadership Secret - 40 Do A Reality Check
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About Brett Clay

Clay is the author of “Selling Change,” named the best business book and best sales book of 2010, and is the CEO of Change Leadership Group, LLC, a firm that helps clients improve their sales, marketing, and leadership capabilities. A veteran of 20 years in international sales and marketing management, most recently with Microsoft Corporation, he is an award-winning author, award-winning marketer, trainer, speaker, consultant, and business leader.

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