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.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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