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.




100 Things You Should Know About People: #31 — The Desire For Control And Choice Is Built In

picture of book coverI’ve just started reading Sheena Iyengar’s new book, The Art of Choosing. I’ve been a fan of Dr. Iyengar’s work for a while. She’s the author of the famous “jam study”, that I talked about in a previous blog.   (I’ll do a book review of the new book in a future post). Early in the book she talks about some of the research on choosing and control.

The paradox of choosing — In his book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz talks about how much we want to have lots of choices. The paradox is that if we have lots of choices then we tend not to choose at all. I have a chapter in my book Neuro Web Design: What makes them click devoted to our need to have choices, and the resulting inability to choose.

The innate desire to control — The desire to control our environment is built into us. This makes sense, since by controlling our environment we likely increase our chances of surviving. Iyengar’s discussion in her new book about choices got me thinking about control, and the relationship between having lots of choices and being in control.  The desire to control is related to the desire to have choices.

The need to control starts young — In a study of infants as young as 4 months, the researchers attached babies’ hands to a string. The infants could move their hands to pull a string which would cause music to play. Then the researchers would then detach the string from the music control. They would play music at the same intervals, but the infant had no control over when the music would play. The babies would become sad and angry, even though the music was still playing at the same intervals. They wanted to control when the music played.

We think that choices = control — In an experiment with rats, the rats were given a choice of a direct path to food or a path that had branches and therefore required choices to be made. The rats preferred the path with branches. Monkeys and pigeons learn to press buttons to get food, but they prefer to have more than one button even though it doesn’t get them any more food. Even though it isn’t necessarily true, we equate having choices with having control. If are to feel in control, then we need to feel that our actions are powerful and that we have choices to make. Sometimes having a lot of choices makes it harder to get what we want, but we still want the choices so that we feel in control of the decision.

For more information about the books mentioned in this post (affiliate links):


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