At a “mandatory” meeting the other day. On the way to the meeting, I remarked to my travelling companion that I didn’t think we’d start on time, attendance would be light, and the message predictable. The message predictability was the least accurate of my assessments.At the prescribed starting time, we were told that since everyone wasn’t yet there and the message was really important, we’d not start for another 15 minutes. Mingle and enjoy some snacks, after all, “the early bird gets the worm!“. What?! I came on time at great personal sacrifice and my reward is to start 15 minutes later. Some reward. Attendance for the mandatory meeting ran at about 1/3 of the consituency, and the message was actually surprisingly pertinent, had great relevance to my service in the organization, and was well communicated, with one exception.The exception was a closing plea to do a certain activity a certain way. The reason? “This is very important to me, and I want you to do it this way.” I didn’t find the request a problem at all — in fact, I didn’t have a better idea. But communicating to your audience that the reason for doing something is because you want it done that way generates all sorts of ill will and questions, even if you’re “in charge”. Most people will have some hesitation to follow such an edict, even if they agree with it. Human nature or some such thing, I suppose. Parents don’t have much success with this tactic. How many kids have felt “because I told you so, that’s why!” was a suitable explanation for a reason? It just doesn’t work except in fanatic or military devotion (and even better if it’s both). But most people who have a following are smart enough not to make commands “because I told you so”.The reason it doesn’t work is the message isn’t given from the POV of the listener. It’s centered on the giver, not the receiver. Don’t forget rule #1… Today’s lesson is a corollary…Always give reasons from the listeners point of view.

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