I have big fat pens with cushy grips printed with my logo on them. Personally, I can no longer write with a regular pen because I’ve become accustomed to using these fat pens. But why would anyone else choose to use one? I chose them because, as an occupational therapist, I often deal with arthritis in the hand. Basic ergonomic principles tell us to transfer the forces of an activity to a larger joint and to use tools that fit the hand. This pen is a tool that fits the hand better than a standard pen.
How would you approach getting an employee to embrace a safer piece of equipment–even something as simple as a pen? How people respond to new situations is based on personal experience and that experience provides a continuity of self. Every time we ask someone to change, we are asking them to alter their identity.
When I teach classes, the participants usually fall into three categories: they have tried fat pens before and liked them, they have tried fat pens before and disliked them, and there are those that have never tried to write with a pen that large. I ask the participants to try it. The question at the end of the day–which participants have integrated a different tool into a very normal activity? Instead of saying “use it because it’s good for you” what should I say?
Some examples: “It will make your joints feel better.” How about “give it a week — do me a favor — you have so much experience and I know you know how to write, but will you give it a try?” How about “Have you ever experienced hand pain? That cramp in your hand when your thumb kind of goes ‘agghhh’ — I don’t want to write anymore. Think about how maybe this pen could help.”
Nothing will happen unless you acknowledge the individual’s experience. Acknowledge that you are not trying to force change. Acknowledge that they have a right to choose to change and you are only giving them the tools. You might wonder how difficult could such a small change be? Well, when was the last time you tried a new brand of toothpaste or a new brand of peanut butter?