If you want people to act on what you say, an important element is knowing WHEN to say your piece and when to hold your peace.

I have seen many conversations fail, not because the words weren’t right but because the timing was so poor that the words couldn’t even be heard.

So here are some guidelines to help you facilitate change by managing the receptivity factor:

1. Approach at a time when emotions aren’t high.  Your natural tendency will be to approach the other person while it is still “fresh” on your mind.  This leads you to dump on the other person while they are still in a fragile stage because they have just completed the tasks.  Their brain will immediately try to defend and see you as the obstacle.

2. Pick a quiet peaceful time generally about 24 hours AFTER the event.

3. Time it to coincide with their own goals.  So instead of pointing out “you lost your audience yesterday when you asked them to…” you tie it to their own goals- “as a valuable leader people look to you to direct them on context, therefore, yesterday when you asked them to… without setting context you cause them to feel lost.  This lost feeling will cause them to pull away from you.”  Notice that I have aligned with the person’s goal of being a valuable leader.  This moves it from a “mistake” to being an “opportunity” for improvement.  Small difference but huge to a person’s brain.

4. Give them digestive time.  People need time to take in what you say and process it.  So waiting 24 hours and then telling the person right before they head in to a big meeting is counterproductive as their brain will be angry that they have to stuff what you just told them in order to move to their next meeting.  So make sure there is adequate time to “hear” the information, digest it and then process it.

If you follow these four you should be able to have robust conversations.  I also find that the 24 hour rule of waiting to approach the person allows ME time to digest and see if MY perspective is right.  Nine times out of 10 I find that I am reacting to something and blowing it out of proportion so this allows me to pull the perspective in so I gain a wider viewpoint.

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