You Got This!

Changing Your Mind


Okay. Great. Hey, everyone. Thanks for that welcome. I hope that you can hear me all okay. Welcome to a talk that I wrote very quickly after being invited to this event about changing your mind. I'm by no means an expert. But I have been changing my mind a lot lately and I thought I would do some talking about it and kind of share some of my really awkward moments, some of my enlightening moments and hopefully help you all come to a sort of sense of piece around the idea of changing your mind. If previously, like me, the thought of changing your mind, like changing yeses into noes or even noes into yeses has left you terrified or just incredibly avoidant of those situations.

So, hopefully, there will be some useful stuff for you here. So, this is who I am. I thought I would intro myself. I'm Eriol, happy to meet you all. My pronouns are they/them. I have been in the Digital UX space for around 12 years, probably a little bit longer now. And working in the humanitarian third sector and NGO work for about 9 years now. Which is super-stressful. Also super-exciting. Would love to talk about that. But this is not what this talk is about. I have been doing lots of stuff within the open source space for 5 years. Particularly in the design side of things and I've also been researching how designers get involved in open source software that has humanitarian and human rights focus. If you're into those things, you can message me. Not what we're here to talk about today. I call myself a human rights centered designer which is a fun title. Not here to talk about that today. But always happy to talk about that as a term.

So, let's get into it. Okay. I would like you to take a few moments. I'm going to be quiet. Have a think about when and why it you last say yes so something that was asked of you? It doesn't have to be a big ask. It doesn't have to be something really, really super-important. It could be something quite small that you were asked to do. But I would like you to have a think about the last time that you said yes to something that was asked of you. You can take a moment to write it down as well. If you want to. We're gonna be coming back to that.

I'm gonna do a quick story before we come back to the last time that you said yes to something. So, the most recent time that I've changed my mind was quite -- quite a big one for me. I agreed to do an unpaid conference talk. Unpaid is important to say because of the context of changing my mind here. But I spoke at this conference previously. So, I felt reasonably familiar with it I was doing some talking about something I had never spoken about before. But it wasn't a subject that I initiated. It was a subject that the conference organizers really wanted me to talk about. But it wasn't a general topic that I could do research about. It was one that was really specific to the inner workings of some of the conference work.

And alongside being asked to do a talk at this conference, a colleague was asked to do a completely separate talk at the same conference. So, as I was being asked to do this particular talk that they wanted me to do about the inner workings of the conference, I knew I had some support. And I also really wanted to support my colleague. They were talking in front of a big crowd for one of the first times in a really long time as many of us perhaps are more recently. And they were nervous so I wanted to support them.

And I couldn't really think of a good reason to say no. Even though I kind of wanted to at the time. I was a little bit uncomfortable about my decision making process. But I could -- I could think of reasons to say yes. And I could they have reasons to say yes, but... and the "But" included asking the organizers to send me what they wanted covered in the talk, what think expected of me, images and content and guidance that I wanted to be ongoing as I developed this talk.

And fast forward to about a month away from the conference. And I hadn't gotten the things in the yes, but. The things I asked for to set the yes. I was busy working and I was unsure how much I could push them on what I needed. I was feeling generally awful about the whole thing. In front of many tens of people talking about a subject that I didn't have the preparation or materials for because they were not openly accessible for me to find

I was dreading the preparation and the event. But I said yes. I couldn't let them down, could I? That's what it means. It means when you say yes, that's a yes. And you carry through with it. But I ended up doing something both terrifying and brave for me. I changed my mind. I let them know I could no longer do the talk. And that was that. And everything was okay.

So, going back to the last time that you said yes, whether it was a big thing or a small thing or anywhere in between, have a think about was the yes easy or difficult? And what was involved in you choosing the yes? And what would it feel like to change your mind on that yes? To change it into a yes, but... or perhaps even a no?

You can take some time to think about your answers in the yes that you thought of previously, you can write them down, or you can take a screenshot of these questions. But I would really like more people and I would like to explore the idea that you can interrogate why you're saying yeses. And you can also allow those interrogations and those explorations of why you want to say yes or whether you want to say yes to inform whether or not you need to change your mind. Or want to change your mind.

So, I have a lot of things that I often think about when I say yes. There's a lot of things that I think are just universal truths about whether -- when I say yes to something. And I'm -- I'm like, I don't know if there will be another opportunity like this one so I should say yes, right? And maybe something bad would happen. I don't know what the bad is, but maybe it would happen if I said no. So, maybe I should, you know, just be saying yes. And someone else really, really wants you to say yes, you know? Sometimes you can really kind of tell that they really want you to say yes and it's really, really hard to communicate what you want in that situation.

And also, you know, if you don't say yes, you might be letting someone down. Or you might be labeled as unreliable or something similar. But a lot of these things are things I'm nervous about or afraid of when I think about what it is to say yes and change my mind or to say no.

When faced with a yes or a no or a maybe ask, I recommend and I have practiced this a lot more. About giving yourself time. So, you can't -- you don't need to be afraid about giving yourself time. Or asking for time. And it's really okay and it should be a standard, in fact, that we take time to consider our choices. As well as making it more acceptable to change our minds when we've made a decision at one point in time and maybe the information changed. Maybe it's not. But changing our mind as well as asking for time should be completely acceptable and should be the standard, really.

So, next time you're asked -- asked something, and it's a yes/no or a yes, but... or a maybe, even if you're pretty certain of the answer at that given time, have a practice about what it might be, what it might feel like, to give yourself more time and to ask for more time. And to spend some time thinking about some of the earlier questions about why you're saying yes. What it might feel like to say no. And what are the criteria involved in saying that yes? And make it really clear you can write these things down or you can just take time to explore them. But I really want us to consider how we're answering our requests and asks. And considering what it might be like to change our mind if we needed to.

So, a question that I ask myself periodically now around these kinds of requests is do I have enough support to carry through with this "Yes"? And do I have everything that I need for this yes? And I think the tricky thing here is making sure that you keep asking yourself these questions. So, that you can know whether you want to change your mind and whether you need to communicate that at any point. So, it's not just about saying the yes whether it's first asked. It's about -- or saying the answer to how you want to answer something at the -- at the first point of when you're asked something. But it's about periodically checking in with you're and saying, do I have support to carry through with this yes? Or no? And do I have everything that I need for this answer?

I'm a really big fan of borrowing templates from other industries and other spaces and using them to help with things like in my professional tech career. This template is from negotiating and sharing different things that you're interested in trying in intimate relationships and partnered relationships. And it's something called a will, won't, want list. If you look at templates on the Internet, you will get lots of things about sex education and relationship education. Don't be afraid if you do a search that you'll get some results like that. But I've adapted this exercise to help me when I want to try to decide how I want to answer a request and whether or not I need to change my mind at any point. This practice really helps me consistently assess and physically move where I want to spend energy. And whether saying a yes is right at that moment, or whether I might be ready to change my mind by physically moving something. And just on the screen at the moment salutogenic three-sectioned -- three-coupled chart with want, will, won't. You can do it in any kind of configuration that you want. And it has ideals, ambitions and preferences in want. Things you'll try, and common ground in will, and hard limits and no way in won't. And the way that I use this, I might put something like, want to do more conference talks. When I'm asked to do conference talks, I will look at my will want, will, we want to chart. I have it in the want chart or won't chart. It helps me feel more confident.

It prompts me to say, huh. Is that still in the column that I want at the moment? Is it still accurate to the way that I want to answer that request? And do I need to change my mind? And like the questions, I periodically check in with this chart and make sure things are that I feel comfortable with where they are. And how to communicate changing my mind at any point.

So, the scary kind of -- potentially scary -- conversation part. Okay. Moving into the part where you have changed your mind and you need to communicate it. And I haven't said it explicitly yet, I don't think so. But I hope it's implicit with what I have been talking about. Changing your mind is very much okay. I do think that the idea of changing our minds is really got a bad reputation. That -- for all of the reasons I kind of covered earlier. We might be labeled as a certain type of way. We might not get opportunities. But changing your mind is totally okay. It's really healthy, in fact. It allows you to keep checking in with yourself and understand how you want to approach different things in your life, career, and otherwise.

So, it's really -- it's totally okay both in a personal capacity and a professional capacity where it's really discouraged, I think a lot of the time, in the professional capacity. But if you go into these conversations not believing you deserve to change your mind, then it's likely to be a lot harder than it needs to be.

But before you go into the conversation where you have changed your mind, it's really -- I find it's really useful to consider how much detail and information you're comfortable sharing? At what points during the conversation? Does written work better for you than spoken? And do you want direct responses? And in what time frame? So, these are some of the things that really helped me when I needed to change my mind and needed to communicate changing my mind about a particular decision.

So, we've talked a lot about turning yeses into noes. Not noes into yeses when you change your mind. So, a lot of the same questions and a lot of the same approaches still matter and can still be useful and relevant. And how you set expectations for the ask and the time period for the yes/no or maybe is really important within a no.

So, I have used these in the past around turning no's into yes'. Which are conversation structures like "I need specific amount of time to consider my answer to this offer or request. Can I ask whether if I say no or unsure right now, what is the time limit? What would the time limit be if I say no now? Can I change my mind?"

And it really can be as -- dare I say -- simple as that. As asking whether changing your mind is a viable option. There's also the template which is around "I can't say yes to this unless I get X, Y, or Z support or resources. And I don't think I will be likely changing my yes into -- if I don't get those things, I won't be changing my yes into a no. I will be liking changing my yes into a no." Apologies. If you don't get certain things, you will be changing the yes into a no. This is about helping people when you're communicating with them around an answer to a request, it's clear communication. And changing your mind is a valid option. It's an option that will be -- that will be happening if certain criteria are not met. And again, it can seem a little bit odd and a little bit scary. But they really do help the overall clarity of where you're at in the point in the decision. Which is generally best for everyone involved. If you're being open, honest, and clear with whether or not you'll change your mind and what criteria are involved in changing your mind.

As I come up to my 15 minutes time, I wanted to spend some time noting towards -- noting something towards people managers or people that support and mentor other people in their work place or in their industries. So, as a person manager myself, as somebody that mentors staff in an official capacity, I want to really make sure that any junior and mid-level teammates are probing the request and ask before they say yes or no. Just because some are perceived as hierarchically in a less-responsible role or however we want to categorize like levels of hierarchy and management within organizations. People should still be able to consider how they're saying yes or no and be able to change their mind. So, I make it consistently clear with every yes/no/maybe situation that I talk to my direct reports with that they can change their mind. And that that is okay.

I don't just say this once. I repeat this every single time that I have a request. Hey, we've got some work come in. Would you like to work on this project? Or would you like to work on this project? Hey. It's okay to change your mind if you say yes or if you say no to this. There are ways in which we can make that work. Even managers, even when it's getting convenient for you, there is something so powerful about being able to allow your direct reports and the people that you work with change their mind given more information, given different information, given time or whatever they need in order to make a more considered yes/no, or yes, but answer.

So, make sure that you leave space for team members to change their minds. So, a little bit of story just to round out my time on. I did this recently working one-on-one with a direct report. Where they really weren't sure whether they wanted to do a certain kind of design work anymore. In the design world, there's lots of different kinds of functions you can do, user research or UI, lots of different things. And they were really unsure whether there was this particular skill they had been doing lots of recently. They didn't know if they enjoyed it or wanted to progress it. But because of where they were, they felt like they should say yes to projects that included that kind of work because they had done them previously. There had been no indication that they didn't enjoy them. They felt really uncomfortable being sure about whether they wanted to continue to take on those -- those kinds of projects with that kind of skill involved. So, at that point I offered the chance for them to stop and ask these questions. Why are you saying yes? What are the criteria involved when you're saying yes? What are the feelings? What would it feel like to say no? And what would it feel like to say yes and change your mind? It really was that easy. They spent the time thinking about why they wanted to say yes. What it would feel like to say no. And what they actually needed in order to feel really happy, fulfilled and that they were progressing skills. And they knew that the opportunity wasn't closed to them forever. That it wasn't a no that wouldn't be able to be changed into a yes should they decide at a future point that they wanted to change their mind.

So, with that, I've gone a little bit over my time. I would like to say thank you. There are some various places you can find me on the Internet. On GitHub. For my Ph.D. research, you can find me at my web page there, And my page, Thanks for listening, everyone. And I hope that you feel a little bit more comfortable about changing your mind in the future should you need to.