How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
When you are introducing something that is unpalatable or unpleasant in some way, offer to phase it in over time.
The reverse may also be done: phasing out something that is desirable.
Sometimes you can do this in one go. Announce it at one point and then delay the introduction.
A salesperson makes an offer to phase payments over time in return for signing the deal today.
A change manager phases in difficult changes over time, whilst phasing out some of the benefits that can no longer be afforded.
A government announces a tax increase, but defers it for six months. This results in a muted response from the general public.
When something painful happens, there is a double blow in the pain of the announcement and the pain of it actually happening. If the occurrence is delayed, then by the time the event occurs the people involved will have adjusted and be emotionally ready for the event.
Phasing a thing over time makes the pain more frequent, but also more tolerable each time. This may range from financial pain (whereby the person simply could not afford it in a single go) to emotional pain, where the pain of loss (for example) can be particularly upsetting.