Getting people to do what you want them to do

I'm racing through the last bit of Your Brain at Work by David Rock because my dad is making noises about wanting it back (I mean, really!) and I just have to share some bits from the chapter on influencing or changing other people.

Rock spends a bit of time on what he calls the SCARF principle. The brain naturally moves towards and seeks out these five concepts: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness. All of these are their own rewards, and the brain will avoid their opposites. 

So, given the SCARF principles, Rock writes, on leadership.

"Many great leaders understand intuitively that they need to work hard to create a sense of safety in others. (CP: Safety is essential if you want someone to listen to you.) In this way, great leaders are often humble leaders, thereby reducing the status threat. Great leaders provide clear expectations and talk a lot about the future, helping to increase certainty. Great leaders let others take charge and make decisions, increasing autonomy. Great leaders often have a strong presence, which comes from working hard to be authentic and real with other people, to create to a sense of relatedness. And great leaders keep their promises, taking care to be perceived as fair.

On the other hand, ineffective leaders tend to make people feel even less safe, by being too directive, which attacks status. They are not clear with goals and expectations, which impacts certainty. They micromanage, impacting autonomy, and don't connect on a human level, so there's little relatedness. And they often don't understand the importance of fairness. 

Creating a sense of safety is the first step to transforming a culture, whether that culture involves two people at home or twenty thousand at work... People will be paying attention either to you, or to their fears. There isn't enough room for both at once."

And as for making change, Rock argues that it's pretty hard. Giving solutions, feedback or ideas to other people is basically a waste of time. Much better is to get them to collaborate or to find their own solutions, in an atmosphere of safety. Asking questions like: What is the most important thing here? What do you need? What would it take to do this more often? helps people to redirect their thinking and answers their need for status, autonomy, relatedness and fairness.

I need to remember these principles with my children. I think I might put the acronym up on my kitchen wall to help me focus.

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