Why don’t people listen?
The marketing ideal is to get “The right message to the right people at the right time” and while it works, it is not that easy to do. This is the third in a series looking at communication and some of the issues we face in consulting.
Part 1 covered issues around Hierarchies.
Part 2 covered issues around how you communicate, the message you think you deliver is not what is received
Here are five potential answers to the question. I discuss this communication issue in the context of change initiatives.
Diffusion model for new ideas
New ideas create a challenge for anyone wanting to drive change. The key is to understand that it takes the time needed to get a common understanding and to allow genuine and imagined problems to be worked through. Shortcut the time and effort required to bring at least 2/3 of your people along with you and you should not be surprised to see change NOT happen.
The adoption/diffusion model shown here shows how novel (perhaps innovative) ideas are gradually taken up. Taking a new idea to a group of people who have not been thinking of it beforehand means you are most likely to have everyone from Early Adopter to Laggards unwilling to accept the idea without convincing. This means you have a high likelihood of 84% of people being quite unconvinced that your idea is a good one. This model applies to transformative communication, where you are trying to introduce change in attitudes, operations or similar behavioural change. The process for getting an idea through the cycle so that you have the Late Majority on board (assuming the idea was a good one in the first place) can be understood as the three R approach 1:
- Reinforcement. Find what people think and reinforce what they think already, moving the context toward your idea.
- Relevance. If the idea is not relevant to the people you want to convince it will be Filtered. Relevance talks to values, role and timing of communication.
- Relationship. Unless the receiver of a message trusts you they are much less likely to pay much attention to you.
Think of an audience when giving a presentation. First, you make sure to tap into something that you have in common with the audience and try to establish common ground. You make sure that what you are presenting is well targeted to the audience and what they think. Building a relationship with the audience allows you to be much more persuasive and the more connected you are with more of the audience members the more nods of agreement you get.
The overall aim of transformative communication should be to shift as many people as possible into the Early Majority as fast as you can achieve it.
- See Why Dont’ People Listen, Hugh Mackay Chapter Four