Desired Change rarely takes place by only presenting consequences of not changing or benefits of changing. Effective Change Management Storytelling requires another important element.
Robert Cialdini’s book Pre-Suasion informs that as a rule, communications that present the most frightening consequences of poor health habits work better than milder messages or messages that present the positive consequences of good habits. The more prominent and attention grabbing the fearsome appeals are, the better they work.
Cialdini further explains this with an example of cigarette smoking where frightening images on the pack grab attention and create fear.
However, the most interesting thing about presenting a fearsome message alone is that, even though it succeeds in getting attention, it doesn’t fully succeed in mobilising the desired change.
It is found that high levels of fear also makes the smokers deny that they will ever encounter a health issue personally. Denial is a way for an individual to deal with the now heightened fears and anxiety.
Interestingly, there is a way to deal with this fright. Not with self-delusional baloney that deters positive action but through genuine change opportunities that mobilise change. By providing Change Assistance, when the negative consequences are paired with assistance on how to change, Change is mobilised.
A Dutch team redirected the behaviours of individuals who, after undergoing tests, were informed of their especially high vulnerability to hypoglycaemia and of its sometimes severe consequences, such as organ failure, convulsions, and depression. Paired with this alarming news, the recipients got information about a workshop that they could attend to improve their diet and health. Most of them sought out further information about the diet workshop and, compared with similar health status individuals who received a less fear-inducing message, were four times more likely to sign up for the workshop then and there. This was a way better change mobilisation strategy.
Fearsome Message + Change Assistance = Change Mobilised
How can we apply this to Change Management Storytelling?
1) To get attention, tell a story of negative consequences associated with not implementing the change.
2) Pair the negative story with change assistance. Something that will help the individuals to take the first step towards change.
You want your team to change the way they do presentations.
Tell a story of someone who was not good at presenting and what negative consequences this person had to face due that. Straight after you have told the story, provide change assistance by offering to sign them up for a workshop to learn how to present better.
Your Change Management Storytelling will mobilise change only when Change Assistance is provided.
Our Change Management Storytelling Programme is designed to help you tell the Change Story with a focus on Change Assistance, which is a great way to mobilise change.
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