Communicate Change Effectively – Understand Language Patterns

This 3 part blog series will focus on three specific patterns of thinking relating to one’s motivation traits that you can uncover in the people you communicate with:

Part 1: How to adapt your language patterns to bring about change: Change Pattern

Part 2: Source of Motivation Pattern ( link to blog 2)

Part 3: Options and Procedures Pattern ( link to blog 3)

Part 1: How to adapt your language patterns to bring about change  –

On Wednesday 27 May 2015, Beth Nurnberger, Senior Consultant and Facilitator, Alive & Kicking Solutions presented at the HR Summit 2015.  This 3 part blog has been compiled to complement the presentation. 

Humans communicate so many things when they speak. Words choices, speed, diction, volume, body language, and vocabulary are all evidence of different ways of thinking and being. Our language is a bucket of evidence who we are, where we come from AND what makes us tick. As leaders – if we can understand through people’s language patterns the ways that they think and are motivated we have greater tools of awareness to bring about change.

My talk at the HR Summit 2015 was designed to shed some light in ways of communicating that can be identified as patterns. When you have the ability to recognise these patterns you can identify why an individual may perhaps be resisting suggestions you may be making or changes that are being implemented. With an understanding of these patterns you can positively influence others by speaking to their patterns and be more successful in bringing about change.

By developing your skills to recognise and respond to language at a deeper level, to decode conversations to uncover specific preferences, and to adapt your language you are able to communicate in the most effective way to each individual.


The Change Pattern

Overview of the pattern and how to recognise it

This category relates to a person’s internal ‘time clock’ and how often the bell rings for change. People can be motivated by evolution, by revolution, by both, or by stability. In the presentation I spoke of three patterns, and mentioned there are four.

Today, most people consider lifetime employment as something of the past. Given that the only certainty is that things will change, it’s difficult to predict how a company will look like in 5 years, and even more difficult which jobs will be required. Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor indicate that between 1979 and 1999 the average person in the United States held 9.2 jobs from age 18 to age 34, and has as many as 3 to 4 careers during one’s lifetime. Both a company and the employee need to take this new element into account. Some people have no problems adapting to change; they even like it and get bored if things don’t change enough. The IT industry and other technological fields are on a track of rapid change. For instance, the most advanced PC you buy today will be considered out-dated in 3 years’ time. Other people require more certainty and security, and would prefer their job to stay the same for years. Indeed, some jobs, like bookkeeping, don’t change much over the years.

This leads us to the following questions. What is a person’s cycle time for projects, tasks, and jobs? Does a person want a fast cycle, moving from one thing to another quickly, or do they prefer things to remain stable for a long period of time?


People with this pattern want their situation in a specified context to stay the same. The do not like change and they may even refuse to accept it. They may accept a major change once every ten years, however they will instigate change once every 15 to 25 years. This category represents 5% of people in a work context.



People with this pattern like a specified context to stay mainly the same, however they will accept change once a year if the change is not too drastic. They prefer situations to evolve slowly over time. They tend to resist major change except when the changes are perceived to be gradual, evolving, progressive. These people need change once every 5 – 7 years. This category represents the largest percentage of people in a work context at 65%.


This pattern is considered to be a double pattern, and people with this pattern like change and revolutionary shifts yet they are also comfortable where things are evolving. They are happy with both revolution and evolution. They need major change every 3-4 years. This category represents 10% of people in a work context.


People with this pattern love change. They LOVE change. The seek it out, they thrive on it and want it to be constant and major. They will resist static or stable situations. They need major change approximately every 1-2 years, and if they do not get it they may leave. They like to be dramatically different, revolutionary. This category represents 20% of people in a work context.

Questions to ask to elicit one of the above patterns:

What is the relationship between your work this year and last? [or your holiday, or this home and the last one…. to identify different contexts to which this pattern applies]


what is the relationship between this job and your last one?

When answering one of these questions, those that identify strongly as preferring DIFFERENCE may be easily identified as not understanding what is meant by the term ‘relationship’ and they may reinterpret the question themselves to mean how is it different. You can prompt a reply by asking them what was similar and what they would say is different if they don’t know how to respond; then, listen carefully to their reply. Once they understand what you are referring to they will reply with an answer that demonstrates their preference or what is most significant for them.

Recognising the pattern


  • Will describe how things are identical or the same
  • What they have in common
  • How things or the job have not changed


  • Will use language that describes how it has evolved over time
  • They will make comparisons that are on a sliding scale, and will use descriptions such as: more of something, less of something, better than …., worse than …, how it is improving
  • They will focus more on the journey and less on arriving at a destination
  1. b best project management app.      SAMENESS WITH EXCEPTION and DIFFERENCE PATTERN
  • They will use the language from both categories: DIFFERENCE and SAMENESS WITH EXCEPTION


  • May not understand the word relationship
  • Will use language that describes things as being totally different
  • They are likely to use words such as new, different, changes, transformed, revolutionary
  • Their language highlights an immediate switch
  • They focus on the destination rather than the journey

You can test the identification of the pattern in the context of work by asking them how often they have changed what they were doing on the job. Even though the title of their job may remain the same, what you want to identify is how often they changed responsibilities to identify the pattern preference here. Their responses will usually match the ‘time clocks’ referred to with each pattern [how often they desire change].

Remember, people can have different patterns in use in different contexts. For example, someone who is identified as having a SAMENESS pattern at work, may describe their work as being “exactly the same. I am still serving customers” yet they may adopt a DIFFERENCE pattern when it comes to the holidays they go on, saying “I love to go to a new and completely different destination every year! I just love all the new and different things I can experience!.”

Best language to use and ways to motive the change pattern
PATTERN Do say…. Do not say….
Sameness This computer system has the same basic structure as the one you are already familiar with, it uses the same coding and we have also kept the personal fields the same too ( find commonalities) The new computer system is going to be totally different, it will solve all the old problems and make your life so much easier ( Find differences)
Sameness with Exception This computer system is so similar to the one you have been using and this one has some new features that will make things easier/ faster/ better for you so that things will gradually change in how you approach your work This is going to be radically different and so unlike anything you have ever worked with before. The way you do your work will be unrecognisable, that is how cutting edge it is and how much things have changed.
Difference The new computer system is going to be totally different, it will solve all the old problems and make your life so much easier ( Find differences) Things are going to be the same and you will find it is really nice and easy to do things just like you always have been able to do. There is nothing to worry about because you will recognise how similar this new system is to the old one, it’s hardly new at all!
Difference and Sameness with Exception Use the language from both categories: DIFFERENCE, and SAMENESS WITH EXCEPTION  


To find out more about other specific patterns of thinking relating to one’s motivation traits that you can uncover in the people you communicate with follow the links below:

Part 2: Source of Motivation Pattern          

Part 3: Options and Procedures Pattern 

Beth Nurnberger – Senior Consultant and Facilitator with Perth’s leading training development, design and delivery experts.  

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