“While at Change.org, I got a unique perspective into the world of decision-makers because of the more than one thousand campaigns started every day on the site asking people and institutions for change. From the data, I’ve seen that there are a series of predictable stages decision-makers tend to go through as they react to campaigns that are directed at them. I call them the Five Stages of Engagement: denial, listening, acceptance, embracing, and empowering. Not all decision-makers go through each of the five stages, but we do see each of these stages play out on a regular basis.
Understanding the stages can help you be more effective in persuading decision-makers that you are working to influence. In particular, helping decision-makers see the risks that come from denial and the benefits that come from listening and then acting can help you make your own case more persuasive. For the purposes of describing each stage briefly below, I’ve referenced petitions to corporate decision-makers, since they take place in a shorter time frame and clearly demonstrate each stage. Nevertheless, these stories illustrate the way decision-makers of all types react to appeals for change.”