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Winning cooperation from naysayers

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

A single uncooperative person can throw a whole team out of synch, particularly when you're facing rapidly changing demands and opportunities. It's important to identify uncooperative people quickly and effectively and start working immediately to win them over. Here's how the pros do it:

Understand why the person is not cooperating. Teenagers are notorious for disagreeing and not cooperating with those in authority. But beyond the teenage years, people generally have specific reasons for not cooperating with their managers. These reasons nearly always include:

  • Satisfaction with the status quo. In most working situations, the people on your team will like their work, their co-workers, their responsibilities and duties, and even their manager (you). They'll resist the call for the change.
  • A lack of commitment to your goals. Most people are reluctant to support a change unless they have participated in the process that brought it about—analyzing the problem, determining the solution and creating an implementation plan. If you want people to willingly embrace a change, give them a chance to buy into your plans.
  • Fear of change. As we get older, we tend to get less comfortable with the new and more fearful of it. But people of all ages have this fear to some degree, and you must address it when your team is faced with an operational change.

Supply the right reasons for cooperating. Learn to perceive and understand exactly which of these three attitudes is driving the individual's reluctance to go along with the changes you want. Then deal with this underlying reason, rather than the simple lack of cooperation.

For example, you may want to make sure that under your new plan of action, the satisfied individual retains her title and gets to work with the same group of people. You may want to have the uncommitted person select his or her own role in the changeover. Or you may want to give the fearful person more time to learn the new procedures or master the new equipment.

Sometimes a private conversation will help the other person revise his or her attitude toward the changes you want. Other times, you'll have to adjust your plan of action to focus on winning the cooperation you'll need before your team can make much progress toward its goals.

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