Great communication is about getting people to believe what you believe and do what you want them to do.
For instance, if your organisation is going through a programme of transformation, telling people how things are going to be different is not as effective as getting them to actually behave differently. Thanks to recent advances in the science of human behaviour, you can now start with the behaviours you want to provoke and work back from there to develop your communications strategy . In fact ‘Communication Strategy’ is now a misnomer, what you really need is a Behaviour Strategy.
We human beings are extraordinary; we are at the cutting edge of evolution, and we now know more about how we work than we ever did before. Just like with your sat nav or a new app on your phone, when you know how something works you’re much more likely to get it to do the thing you want it to do.
What makes us human is that we are sentient – we are aware that we are aware. Work in the field of applied neuroscience can now tell us in detail the process by which we take in and use the information we are exposed to. Their work also shows us how we use that information when making choices about what we believe and what we do as a result. In short we are aware of how we are aware. That simple sentence changes everything.
Steven Covey’s second habit of highly effective people is ‘Begin with the end in mind.’ So how can we use that behavioural insight to harness what we now know about how we think and behave, to shape communications, and engage our audience?
Well, the ultimate end goal of any business is of course to drive the commercial strategy of the organisation. As we all know commercial success is ultimately based on what people do. Whether it’s the employees, leaders, stakeholders or customers, unless some one actually does something nothing happens. It so simple it’s too easily missed.
We also used to miss it because trying to figure out not just what you wanted people to do, but also how you went about successfully getting them to do that, was more art than a science. Not any more.
By starting with a Behaviour Strategy that’s led by what we want to see and hear people do, rather that by what we want to say to those people, we engage more successfully and take the guesswork out and make it happen. Simple.
After all we’re only human!
Tom Griffin: at The 4th Wave www.the4thwave.co.uk