How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Three Ins of Communication
There are three types of communication that are common in organizations and communities, each of which begins with 'In'. If you can understand and recognize the need for these, you can help to shape your communications to target the right people in the right way.
Sometimes you just need to keep people in touch, letting them know what is going on so they can make appropriate choices, are not surprised when things happen, and can prepare themselves for any impact.
Informing people seems easy but can be difficult when they just see your communications as 'noise'. When they are not particularly interested in what you have to say at the moment, you communications can fall on deaf ears. It can also be difficult reaching a large and diverse audience with your communications. For example if you want to just send out an email message to all, you may find that some people do not have email, others do not really use it and further factors can get in your way, such as your email being caught by a spam filter.
The secret of successful information is to understand where and how your target customers listen and consequently 'fishing where the fish are'. This can need a wide range of communication types, from flyers on notice-boards to postings on websites.
Examples of informing include telling people about a summer picnic that they may attend (but need no other involvement), letting them know about holidays or closure dates, and warning people that changes are due but no involvement is required yet.
While informing people is a one-way communication, involving them is a two-way process in which they are engaged with you at some level. Given this, the degree and type of involvement can vary significantly, from a one-off conversation to a high degree of engagement over a long period.
Aside just from reaching your target audience, you may find that many people do not want to be involved or simply do not have the time (in which case you will also need to engage in influencing). It is often important to be honest up-front in describing exactly what kind of involvement you want, so people can organize their time to enable them make an effective contribution.
It is also important in this to discover how supportive people are for what you want to achieve. Sometimes people get involved not so much to contribute to your goals and more to protect their own interests -- which can mean sabotaging what you are trying to achieve. If you find you are facing objections and resistance then you need to be able to address this.
Positive involvement occurs where people are listened to and given a say in decisions, rather than just being directed as to what they should do. If people buy what you are doing and can see how they can benefit, then they are far more likely to be positively involved.
Examples of involvement include holding focus groups, joint design teams and
sharing meetings between teams.
The third type of communication is where you want to change what people think, feel, believe or do. This type of communication is particularly found in such activities as change, negotiation, marketing and sales. It also appears in many situations, including what appears initially to be simple informing or involving.
There are two main ways of influence which can be described as push and pull. Pushing is more coercive, telling people what they should think. Pulling is softer, letting them decide for themselves, albeit with gentle nudging along the way.
Influence can include direct face-to-face persuasion, but is often remote, as in advertising, where the person you want to influence can only see your words (or maybe video) but you have no feedback that lets you modulate what you are saying to respond to their apparent mood. Influence may also be a dripping tap, gradually nudging them in the right direction, in the way that repeated TV adverts gradually persuade viewers to change their purchasing habits and try out the advertised product.
Examples of influence include making visionary speeches, door-to-door
canvassing and producing persuasive advertisements.