7 Tips to Get A Team To Implement Your Recommendations: Tip #2

Red outline circle with the letter I in itThis is the 2nd in a series on how to get a team to implement your recommendations. Tip #1 was: Hide Your top 3 Recommendations.

Now for Tip #2. The context is that you want to see your recommendations implemented. How can you present them to a team so that they will be acted on and not dismissed?

Tip #2: Say “You”, “They”, “Customers”, “Users”, or “Research”. Don’t say “I” — The wording you use when you present your recommendations can have a subtle but important impact. Let’s say you are going to suggest that the information architecture be changed so that there are fewer choices to make from the home page. You could say,

“I think that there are too many items on the top level menu. I’d like to see us pare that down to a smaller number.”

Instead use one of the words above and reframe the recommendation so that it’s not actually YOU making the recommendation. It’s not about you. If you use the word “I” then it becomes your opinion rather than an expert source

Here are some phrases to use instead:

  • “You want to be sure that people don’t have too many choices to make at the top level. If you change the information architecture to have few items, then it will be easier for customers to make a decision quickly about where to go at the site.”
  • “Users will get confused if there are too many choices at the top level of the menu.”
  • “Research shows that if you offer too many choices, then people won’t choose anything. Sheena Iyengar and Barry Schwartz are two researchers who have some interesting studies on this. You want to limit the number of choices at the top level.”

In each of these examples you are not stating your opinion. If team members disagree they aren’t disagreeing with you. They are going against users, research, and customers. They will feel the need to present their own evidence if they are going to ignore or object to your recommendation. You are framing recommendations as being from a larger and more important source. It will be harder to push your idea aside this way. You will be more persuasive.

What do you think? Have you tried altering your wording this way? What was the result?

And in case you are interested in Sheena Iyengar or Barry Schwartz’s work, I have links to the books on Amazon below.




7 Tips To Get A Team To Implement Your Recommendations: Tip #3
7 Tips to Get A Team To Implement Your Recommendations: Tip #1

10 Replies to “7 Tips to Get A Team To Implement Your Recommendations: Tip #2”

  1. This is one series I won’t be sharing with the rest of my colleagues. Very useful advice for dealing with other decision makers.

  2. Studies have shown that by simply changing the wording, you risk simply passing your own opinion off as absolutely representing the needs of users or committing the fallacy of appeal to authority. Many of my users have told me that they would prefer that I first find out what they really need, and advocate for those needs, rather than solely relying on my own opinion…professional or otherwise.

  3. I’ve seen this in practice plenty of times, though I wouldn’t say it was a conscious decision. I’ve always been aware that design needs to take the user into account first and foremost, and as a rule my suggestions are given at the least more consideration that other member of the team who simply say ” I think this, I think that”, because, as you rightly say, it’s just perceived as an opinion rather than a considered strategy, regardless of the merits.

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  7. This is extremely powerful advice, often misapplied in the field.

    As a webmaster, I often review and reference specific and general data about my customer and their tastes. I listen to them on phone-calls (my own, and those of my sales team). I chat with them over email about our service. I represent them.

    And yet, managers and clients often misrepresent their opinions as the opinions of their customer. Literally, I heard a boss talking about how “customers don’t like our product at this price. They suggest we raise it.” Or “customer research shows that they want us to call them within 24 hours of their visiting our website”. Misrepresentation of one’s personal opinion as the customer’s opinion definitely give one’s opinion momentum — except among those that have different opinions which derive from actual customers.

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  9. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next blog post, I will try to get the hang of it! Cheers, Madelyn

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