Change related Acquiescence Effects

As mentioned in my last post, I will continue writing about the “psychology of change”. In a first instance I would like to deal with the so called “acquiescence effect”.

What is the “acquiescence effect”?
Imagine that you get asked something by another person. Now consider your answer. By doing so closely you will realize that you do not simply answer to him but include rational considerations related to what has been asked. In other words, your sameness necessities define how you will react towards other in order to appear “compliant“.

Consequently you will tend to answer more positive rather than negative, notably if a leading question is used. Summing up one can state, that anyone seeks to acquiesce to the direction of others, especially when:

  • Dominance: The person asking is superior to you or at least seems to be
  • Mercy: The person asking has a special need, that you can easily ease
  • Dreariness: The person asking is boring you to death and it is just to exhausting to meet him

How to use it within Change:
When talking to employees (e.g. when telling them new facts) or executives (in order to present the new vision), most CXOs use leading questions (often even under the advise of consultants or their heads of communications). When using these leading questions the CXO will get people to agree with him, but this also has counter-productive effects – acquiescence.
Therefore it is more applicable to use neutral questions to receive more honest responses.


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