A common rut to get stuck in as an environment and sustainability professional is assuming others should be energised by the same messages as us.
We can end up banging the same old drum, thinking if we keep shouting, maybe a little bit louder, people will ‘get it’ eventually and take action. It’s obvious right - why wouldn’t they?!
The truth is - different people find different things motivating, and if everyone was going to be motivated by the reality of climate change etc we’d already have much less of a problem.
We need to shift our thinking to tap into other motivations, ones that can appeal to broader audiences. Competition, ‘what’s in it for me’, esteem of self or others, incentives, and rules.
Find the 'hook' and align to the motivations of your audience.
We can do this within organisations by aligning to company objectives and the prevailing culture or ‘personality’ of the business, and by keeping communications fresh, and positive. No polar bears sat on icebergs please.
Nobody wants to feel persecuted for doing something wrong, or like they are giving something up. The ethical argument may also fall on deaf ears if it feels self-righteous, not relatable, or immediately urgent.
Sustained and self-directed action is much more likely from a place of positivity. We can apply similar thinking to societal behaviour change too.
It can however feel like a difficult and illogical puzzle to solve, when there is such a compelling scientific case for action. It can be tiring and difficult to work through, and easy to fall into old habits.
So it’s important to find ways to recycle yourself too, don’t burn out. Go back to an earlier stage in the process, repurpose your messaging.
I always find it reassuring and inspiring talking to other professionals who are working at this. Recycle your messaging, and recycle yourself.
This blog is intended to share opinion for informational purposes only, not to provide advice or represent any organisation. Facts and figures are accurate to the best of my knowledge but should not be relied upon.