Setting the context is one of the most important things you can share when trying to enact a change. Too many times people jump right in to communicate what they want changed without spending the time to explain the problem they are trying to solve, the reasons that led to their conclusion or what prompted the change in the first place.

Without the context, the recipient of a proposal has a much harder time understanding whether the recommendations make sense or are appropriate for the circumstances. It often leads to questions about the proposal or resistance to the change that could have been averted if you had more effectively set the stage.

If you anticipate the questions that may be raised and address them in light of what you are proposing, you can help others see the logic behind your choices before they automatically jump in with objections to your content. You are helping steer them to reach the same conclusion you did, rather than leaving it wide open for their interpretation.

Most proposals are rational, even if you don’t agree with them. Sharing the context first will help others understand your point of view and allow them to consider the changes you propose from that perspective as well as their own. If you find that there is agreement on the context, it can be the first step toward reaching agreement on the content.

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