We all need a nudge from time to time.
I loved the TED Radio Hour that aired on June 24, all about the gentle prods that change our behavior. Big changes really do start small, and by understanding what's right about someone's thinking - even when their intuitive framework is wrong and does not line up with reality - we can discover the best way to persuade them to change their habits.
This approach places the responsibility for changing someone's behavior on the person who wants it to change, NOT the individual whose current behavior is a problem. This is important, and usually difficult. Whether trying to change yourself or others, pausing in your judgment and considering what feels right about the intuitive framework in error is much more conducive to problem solving than blame. We often think those whose behavior consistently produces undesirable results are idiots. This is lazy and uncreative and won't lead to persuasion of any kind. There must be some reason they adopted their current framework in the first place. It's our responsibility as agents of change to find out what that reason is and address it, so the behavior we want to see can start to feel just as right.
If I want to convince a client that the cut or color she wants either is not possible with her hair type or will not flatter her, there are many ways I can go about the conversation. It's tempting just to issue my professional opinion. This my-way-or-the-highway approach is only effective with pushovers, and it necessarily takes ownership away from the person whose very image I am designing, rendering my work useless if my goal is to help her true self shine through. Unfortunately, fearing this, too many talented stylists do the opposite and just execute what the client wants, shrinking away from offending anyone with the truth.
When people bring me outlandish photos, I have one big question. What is it that you like about this photo? We also look at photos of what they hate. If I can't find a way to address what they like in their photos, my clients will not take my hand and let me lead them into better hair. They pay me the big bucks to show them more is possible than they could have envisioned on their own, but the hair at stake is the only accessory they wear every day and if it expresses just me and not them, it's like I've given them a mask to wear instead of a window into who they really are.
With stylist behavior and building their businesses, it's the same way. I could just keep issuing information - do this, do that - and get frustrated when my students don't do the things that will thrill clients enough to grow their books. I wouldn't have made it very far as a coach with that attitude, though. If I want to bring out the best in someone, I have to constantly take little steps back and check my judgement. Persuasion, like love, starts with understanding.