Getting People On Your Side

Did you ever have the feeling that the whole world is against you? Well, sometimes it is! I’ve learned that people oppose you for one of two reasons, one good and one not so good.


That’s a Bad Idea!

They oppose you because you have a dumb idea. People legitimately oppose weak proposals, bad ideas, mistakes, wrong opinions. You wouldn’t want your friends to humor you if your idea falls in that category. They are doing you a favor by opposing you. When someone lets you know you are wrong they are acting as your friend. Early in my ministry one of our elder meetings was going to fall on April 1. The chairman of the board had wonderful (read devious) sense of humor. We conspired to create a plan to show appreciation to the ministry workers by inviting them to come to the elders meeting. We were, however, going to invite them with something like this, “It has come to the attention of the elders that there are some issues in your ministry that we need to talk about.” Our intent was to get them a little nervous, have them come to the meeting and then say, “April Fools! It has come to our attention that we need to express our heartfelt thanks to you. I asked my dad on the phone what he thought of the plan and what he would do if he received a note like that. He simply said, “I’d quit.” Nothing more. I realized he was not on board with my idea because it was a foolish one that certainly wasn’t worth the risk. People oppose good ideas, though, for yet another reason. People will oppose good ideas and bad ideas if they are not brought into the process. When they are simply told the way things will be, normal people take time to adjust. Or, they don’t adjust. Either way they push back. Deliver the news and expect trouble.

Involve me!

How do you involve people in the process? How do you preempt that natural resistance? How do you get people cheering for you instead of rooting against you? Here are a few simple ways.

  • Vote early and often. As soon as you realize you need to change, as soon as you recognize you have a decision to make, start talking about it. Give people as much lead time as possible. Bring it up frequently so no one can complain that they’ve never heard of this.
  • Ask questions. Solicit feedback. “What do you think I should do?” “What would you do if you were me?” How would you recommend I do this?” “Do you know any resources that will help me?”
  • Take the extra step. I think the reason not to involve other people is that it takes longer. It is more work. It slows you down. I would suggest, however, that it isn’t as much work as dealing with the opposition you might get because you didn’t take the extra step to involve them earlier.
  • Give them responsibility. The fastest way to get someone on your side is, well, to ask them to be on your side. Give them something they can do to help you. Not only will it help you, it will give them some investment in the success of the outcome. They will pull for your instead of against you.

It really doesn’t matter if you are changing a multi-million dollar corporation or changing plans for your family vacation, taking a few extra steps to get people on your side will pay big dividends.