Your memo did not change my life—sorry

We’re hopeful creatures.  We want people to think and behave rationally, and to respond well to facts and rational arguments.  In business, we just know that if we explain things well enough, everyone will a) understand, b) agree, c) feel enthused and d) take a new course of action.

Never mind that this is contrary to our own experience.  Research continues to show that the place inside us that weighs attitude changes is much nearer the heart than the head.  And the kinds of evidence that we admit — or the kind of person who delivers it — don’t capture our attention just because they seem rational.

Marketers, who place high value on word-of-mouth and third-party validation, know this.  But somehow this recognition hasn’t jumped over into organizational communications that assume that Facts Delivered By The CEO are the key to behavior change.

This article from the New York Times Magazine last Sunday leads with the topic of moral beliefs and the phenomenon of political flip-flopping, but you’ll see the relevance to how businesses might better achieve a), b), c) and d) above.  There’s probably a comms plan in your email that shows the messages and vehicles and delivery dates and audiences for an upcoming announcement or campaign, but where is the column in the plan that weights the potential effectiveness of each tactic?  That memo you’re editing may be efficient, but it may also be useless.

How can you plan to really communicate with employees in ways that matter to them and to your bottom line?


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