If you have ever led a change, you will be familiar with this experience:

You make your pitch to someone affected. You pitch your change proposition with passion and enthusiasm.

However, as you talk, the other person does not mirror your enthusiasm. In fact, you feel a huge yebbut coming ("Yeah, but..."). Your enthusiasm begins oozing out of your feet as you listen to them explain why it won't or shouldn't work.

I thought I'd share the video below. It forms part of our new Exploring People Engagement online coaching programme. In this video, I rehearse the 5 TONIC ​responses that cover most of the sources of objection to our change.

So, what's the point? Simply this: the TONIC list helps me prepare before I present a change proposition. If I'm giving a formal presentation to a larger group, I might include some of these objections in my presentation, such as the organisation's recent history and the type of change I'm proposing, and deal with those concerns as part of my presentation.

Most responses to change can be explained from five core areas.

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If I'm meeting a key individual, one-to-one, I might sensitively study how they might react from what I know about them, their role, their style of working and what I know they hold as their operating values. This helps me avoid causing unnecessary anxiety or offence.

Finally, I'd like to attribute the original list to the work of Esther Cameron and Mike Green, as it appears in their Making Sense of Change Management. MSCM, as it was known, was for a number of years the core reference for APMG's qualification in Change Management. 'TONIC' was the acronym one of the pearcemayfield delegates on the  Change Management Practitioner course came up with and it stuck for John Edmonds and me.

Then APMG moved to The Effective Change Manager's Handbook as the core reference for this qualification, a tome which I had a hand in writing one of the chapters. And, sadly, TONIC didn't make the transition to the new curriculum, which I think is a shame.

So I've kept it in my writing and training. I hope you agree it's a valuable framework.

Copyright: racorn / 123RF Stock Photo

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