Communication is trickier than you think. I earned a college degree in it, write and speak about it, talk on the phone six hours a day, and average hundreds of emails each week. I’m a communications professional by every definition of the word. And I’m still sometimes astoundingly bad at it.

We recently launched a new initiative aimed at helping employers with less than 50 employees transition to individual coverage. It keeps the broker engaged in business they are in danger of losing due to PPACA and it creates tremendous opportunities for voluntary.

To me, keeping you engaged in groups you’re in real danger of losing, offering solutions to real problems, saving policyholders and employers money, and keeping small business clients compliant are all good things.

So imagine my surprise when a broker called to inform me that our new program is, in his estimation, a bad thing.

Him: “You’re telling me to give up all my group business! Are you insane?”

Me: “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”

Him: “Do have any idea how I get paid, you dope?”

And there it was.

I think this new plan is the best news for brokers since Section 125, and I said as much. The best part of the equation is that the broker maintains his/her relationship with the group and solves very real problems in a unique way. But this broker didn’t see that. Instead, he interpreted my message as the death knell for his business. My intent was the exact opposite!

Ideas that violate prior beliefs are hard to embrace. Have you ever experienced this?

You have a new plan design or communication tool that you know will make life easier for them and you’re excited about it. “Only an idiot would say no to this,” you think. Only, when you present it, they call you the idiot and ask you to leave.

I’ve spent a career bringing “new” things to people, and I’ve learned the biggest obstacle is the recipient’s fear of change. We all hate change. But do people really reject good things just because they’re different?

People once called surgical anesthesia a “needless luxury.” Seriously.

When introducing a new idea, you must factor fear of change into your presentation. If you don’t, your clients will be downing a shot of whiskey before cutting into their benefits plan while the world around them is finding less painful ways to do the same thing. And you’ll be out of business faster than the Bengals exiting the playoffs.