How to Get Your Fraternity Brothers to Agree with Big Changes

Has this ever happened at one of your fraternity meetings?

An excited brother has a great idea.  It could be the fraternity president or a brother in crowd – it really doesn’t matter.

This great idea will cause some type of departure from normal chapter operations.  This change will seem dramatic to some brothers.

This handful of brothers will be vocal in their opposition to the idea.  Before you know it they will have persuaded the entire brotherhood to shoot it down. 

The fraternity then resorts to the old, stagnant ways of doing business and the excited brother is dejected.

I know this has happened at one of your meetings because that scene plays out in chapter houses everywhere.  I want to tell you a secret though – it doesn’t have to be this way.

You should never, ever present a major idea or change at a meeting unless you know if it will be accepted with near certainty.

To make sure the meeting will go your way, you need to do the legwork before the meeting.  You need to present your idea to brothers in individual conversations.  You need to get their buy in during these one on one conversations.

The brothers will have suggestions, and be sure to incorporate them into your original idea.  The more input you get an incorporate, the more your idea becomes theirs.

And most importantly, be sure to ask the brothers the question if they will support the idea in the fraternity meeting.

If you do this legwork, you will know with near certainty that your idea will be approved by the brotherhood.   You will get what you want, and hopefully your fraternity will improve as a result.

One thought on “How to Get Your Fraternity Brothers to Agree with Big Changes

  1. In addition to the all sales are personal bit above, don’t show up with an idea scratched out on a proverbial cocktail napkin. I’ve come up with some good stuff sitting around watching football or at the bar more than a few times in life. But, I wouldn’t take raw form of that into a board room and try to give a series pitch. That’s just dumb.

    I’ve cited this example before, but this is more about the process so I’ll bring it up again. We got in trouble for hazing when I was an active and needed to come up with a new pledge program that would remain rigorous but not be hazing and still be the constructive learning process the chapter demanded. So, I worked with my roommate to craft a program from scratch. Almost everything about it was a new way of doing business. We ended up putting together a pledge manual with daily schedules, professional development on the principles ect. Long story short, you show up to an election or to pitch an idea and you’re the guy with the couple hundred page bound program full of great ideas, you’re going to win over the guy(s) winging it. Put together a professional product. If you’re proposing an event, then go to the Treasurer and maybe the social chair for help, have a legitimately researched budget, show layouts and concepts in visual ways. When you get to the real world this is how you sell complicated ideas. You might as well get a head start now. That’s actually why fraternity members are successful in the real world, not because they shook the right hands.

    Also, while this is clearly your idea, you want the group to take ownership. That starts in the building process as you go through those pre-proposal conversations. Incorporating those at least a semblance of those ideas makes the suggesters feel like this big concept is partly theirs. Ultimately you want the group to see your idea as a supporting subset of the vision they’ve agreed on for the chapter. You want to put them in bandwagon mode rather than make this difficult. If you can establish integral links between what you’re doing and the larger thing they’re already committed to accomplishing, then they’ll find it easier to get on board.

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