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I don’t do Twitter and it’s your fault

January 28, 2013

I don’t do Twitter and it’s your fault.

Have you ever encouraged colleagues to join Twitter to be told “I don’t do Twitter’ or “I just don’t get it”, “it’s all about tittle-tattle”? Do you feel a little frustrated by it, why don’t they get it, why can’t they see the possibilities and enormous resource this opens up for them, if only they were as enlightened as us? (ok, guess the last bits only me that thinks that then?)

paperBefore you read any further can you jot down, perhaps on a piece of paper (sorry I did say paper) five reasons why people have resisted a change you’ve proposed or been part of. Perhaps you’ve suggested a new process in your workplace, or wanted to change the layout of a room, perhaps wanted colleagues to adopt a new piece of software.

Once you’ve done that you can read on – keep your note beside you, but turn it over.

On a separate note can you write down five reasons why you have resisted a change that someone else has proposed.

Now bring both the list together. It’s very likely that in the list that relates to others (list 1) you will have written something like:

  • They are intransigent (it’s their personality, they resist anything new)
  • They are stuck in their ways, they resist every change
  • They are just bloody minded, they are being awkward
  • It’s because it wasn’t their idea
  • If you work in the health service you may also have added in ‘because they are… a GP, a doctor, a psychologist etc’, the list will depend on your own professional background and the resistance will almost always come from another profession.

The point however is that the causal factor in their resistance is external to you, or your team who are trying to implement the change – it’s because of them, the resistors!

If you now look at the reasons why you have resisted change, it’s likely to include reasons such as:

  • Not all changes are good and they didn’t really explain the benefit so why should I change
  • There are negative aspects to the change that haven’t been thought through
  • No-one asked me to be involved in the process, it’s just a fait-accompli
  • I’m too busy at the minute
  • There’s too much change already

Why ‘why’ is important

Golden Circle

The difference in the two lists is about attribution – the ‘blame’ when you resists change is primarily due to others not engaging you in the ‘why’ of the change. Have a look at this TED talk by Simon Sinek, if you want to understand why ‘why’ is important.

It’s unlikely you will have written in list 2 – “its because I resist change, I’m stuck in my ways”, “I’m just intransigent” – if you did, let me tell you you are somewhat unique. Ross (1977) calls this fundamental attribution error – the tendency to explain resistance in others to internal aspects (it’s about them), whereas when we resist it is because of external factors (it’s about the situation).

Taking the process we’ve explored above let’s think about what that might mean for us engaging our colleagues in using social media, in this case Twitter.

What’s in it for them? Perhaps it’s not that they are Luddites or living in the 20th century, perhaps no-one has actually explained or really shown them what’s in it for them. Why should they bother, they’ve been busy all day at work, “why would I want to read more stuff about work”. Although having written the last sentence I’m actually aware that part of the battle may already have been won. If that is their approach they already recognise there may be some value in SoMe, it’s about capacity or ring fencing their personal space (but that’s a blog for another day).

Some colleagues will tell you it’s all about celebrities, who’s eating what or who is at which red carpet event, a constant stream of self publication by A, B and C listers (is there anything after C?). Potentially of course this is simply an excuse not to engage with Twitter, for others it’s a genuine belief. It is these colleagues that we let down the most – we have not yet managed to share the message of engagement, of learning of access to resources and information that this new media can open up.

Is it really your fault?

So – it’s your fault, indeed it’s my fault they don’t do Twitter. But why? It’s not my job to sell Twitter or SoMe to the world. Of course it isn’t, but there again, why does it frustrate us when others ‘don’t get it”.

Standard distribution curveIn a standard distribution graph there will be people who are at the front of the curve, the innovators and early adopters, then there are the early majority, followed by the late majority. the late adopters and then of course there are always those that will never get it, until its impossible to do anything else.

Your role, as an early adopter (i.e.the first 13.5% on the graph – sorry, we’re way too late to be innovators) is to share the positive message of benefit with the early majority (the first 34%) – to demonstrate actual, real life positives; how has this helped you, what information did you get this way that you wouldn’t have got other ways or you’ve got much quicker? Have you sat down and explained it – you’re a leader, you need to share your vision, help them understand the ‘why’, not simply the how and what.

This blog from the London School of Economics suggests that, for academics, the balance is around 70% quality information, resources and 30% social engagement with others. What aspects are you introducing to your colleagues? Should it be a different ratio in your area of work?

This blog from the Harvard Business Review suggests we don’t try and do every type of social media, it will become overwhelming, it will lead us to disengage and it can lead to superficial engagement which detracts from the overall experience.

So what?

Force_field_analysis1Lewin tells us the more we push, the stronger people will push back – we need to adopt a different approach.

Here’s a little suggestion, if you like the idea, I’d encourage you to write down what your plan is.

“This week I will speak to one colleague about Twitter and give them specific examples of useful information I got from Twitter and suggest they sign up to at least see it themselves”.

Why not commit to discussing it with them at the end of the week, you can both reflect on what you got from Twitter during the week.

It’s Specific – speak to one colleague about Twitter

It’s Measureable – did you speak to one colleague?

It’s Achievable – it’s only one person

It’s Realistic – you did get info from Twitter that was useful, didn’t you?

It’s Timed – it has to happen this week

The following week – one colleague every day.

Glassborow, R (2013) SPSPMH Masterclass Edinburgh

Lewin, K. (1951) see Wikipaedia

Ross (1977) in Berkowit, L (ed) in Advances in experimental psychology

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2013 7:53 am

    I agree wholeheartedly. People have a myriad of reasons for resisting new ways of working and the more they feel pushed the harder they resist. A softly, softly approach leading by example is definitely the way to go. I have a colleague who has been resisting Social Media in the face of significant perceived pressure from others (not me!). She recently sought me out to find out how it could work for her; on her terms – oh and for some technical support to actually get it off the ground. As you say, be an advocate who celebrates and shares the benefits of Social Media without making others feel pressured or inadequate. Be approachable and someone who others chose to come to in their own time. It is SOCIAL media after all.

  2. @maidenturret permalink
    January 28, 2013 9:36 pm

    Thanks Derek, I have taken up your challenge. I totally agree with all you say regarding managing change (Having met a number of laggards in the health service!!!).
    I have been surprised how much I have enjoyed twitter and often bore colleagues/friends with useful nuggets of information I have gleaned on a daily basis. However, I would argue that social media should be engaged with purpose and in moderation. Spend time away from TMI (too-much-information). There is a danger that constant bombardment of messages can induce a sense of constant hyper-awareness Embrace social media in moderation!

    • January 28, 2013 10:07 pm

      Thanks Andrew – I agree regarding ‘in moderation’, surely though you can also indulge with it without purpose other than to engage with others? The second link (academic) in the blog inferes 30% of interaction/time is about being sociable. However, overall we agree all things in moderations. Thanks Derek

  3. lelil permalink
    February 3, 2013 8:58 am

    Great post Derek. I agree. Mostly. But what if you’ve done all of the above? (And it is – kinda – my job to ‘sell’ social media to my colleagues.) And more. Demonstrating the positives. Trying to find the ‘what’s in it for me’ hook? Answering the myriad of questions. And people still refuse to engage?

    I’m generally a pretty patient person, but I had a wee rant about this a while back: Would be interested in your thoughts. Am I being too harsh?

    • February 3, 2013 9:22 pm

      Thanks for the comments and link to your blog, I enjoyed reading it – although I’d read it before (commented on it as as ayrshirehealth), so clearly worth reading twice. Just shows there’s nothing new as I’m following a path you’ve already been trodden – wished I’d remembered about your blog and I could simply have re-blogged it. We’ve been encouraging colleagues locally to engage with Twitter, but approached it as a blanket ‘this is a good thing’ – some picked up on it (not many) others didn’t. The masterclass on ‘resistance’ made me consider if I’d sold the ‘why’ well enough. One other major problem we have is IT block access via work equipment (although that is being relaxed in some circumstances), the issue then is having to sell why people should access it in their own time and on their own equipment: in other words we start from a negative position. It seems there are some broad principles of positivity, but we need to tailor individual reasons to energise them to shift their ‘status quo’.

      Last week I had someone asking if I could provide them info on paper as they didn’t really do email – it was work related, they do have a work email – the answer was NO (not to mention the 19miles between them and me). There are different levels of luditeness (new word I’ve just invented).

      As early adopters we will need to ride the apathy wave, while continuing to lead, it’s frustrating and can feel lonely, but isn’t leadership about seeing where we can go and supporting others to get there?

      I liked the term ‘refuseniks’ – it’s got a certain onomatopoeia quality to it. How about a follow up blog ‘changing the world one refusenik at a time’ , sort of gives permission for it to be a slow steady process: good luck with it, thanks for sharing your perspective and in mine.

      • lelil permalink
        February 5, 2013 10:26 am

        Thanks Derek. One of my goals for 2013 is to be a bit more emphathetic. Not that I’m currently a sociopath, or anything… 😉 but just to be a bit better (and more consistent) at trying out the shoes of those who have different viewpoints. I’ll let you know who I get on!

  4. February 4, 2013 5:27 pm

    Really interesting blog, reminded me of a facilitation and assertiveness technique called the DESC script that uses “I statements” to change the focus from attacking someone to providing useful feedback. It’s a useful contrast to what you blog about, and whilst the consequences aspect is a bit different, it may be useful.

    Describe: The facts of the situation as objectively as possible. Your own perception of a situation is a fact
    Express: Your feelings and thoughts about the situation. You statements which start with ‘I’
    Specify: What you’d like to happen
    Consequences: State what the consequences will be you don’t get what you specified.


    • February 4, 2013 7:20 pm

      Thanks for commenting – it’s one of the really interesting things I like about blogging when others take the time to comment and to make observations/suggestions. To me it’s about shared learning and then filing ideas for use in different situations in the future. I’ll file the DESC model and will no doubt use it as a way to support change and innovations. Thanks for sharing, much appreciated. Derek


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