We code our messages in values the audience doesn’t share.
Climate activists talk about saving the planet. Consumers care about electricity companies ripping them off.
When we talk in different values, our messages don’t get through. They could be supremely well written, funny, and embrace every tool in the speechwriter’s toolbox. It’s not going to happen.
If you talk to a high-achiever about the power of group’s coming together, you’re always going to be pushing the boulder uphill. But if you tell the high achiever about how to achieve more or stories of individual success, you’re going downhill all the way.
You might not stay on the track for the entire journey, but you’re not handicapping yourself before the race begins.
Schwartz identified (and largely verified) 10 broad universal values. These are:
Openness To Change
This provides you with ten powerful options to encode any message. Let’s imagine you want people to share more information. You have so many potential values in which to encode this knowledge.
You could, for example, say:
- Share more knowledge to build a wiki of your best work.
- Share more knowledge to increase your reputation.
- Share knowledge about what you enjoy.
- What knowledge do you think deserves more attention? Share it!
- Share knowledge to ensure it doesn’t get lost when you leave.
- Everyone else is sharing knowledge, you should too.
- It’s standard practice here for everyone to share their knowledge.
- Share knowledge to help the group.
- You have great knowledge that can improve the sector. Share it.
The amazing thing is this is testable. You can come up with 10 different options for each message and try them out on the audience. See what they respond to. See what they think of themselves. See what they’re proud of and orientate your messages (and actions) around those values.
Being more persuasive is the highest value skill you can learn to drive long-term engagement. It’s a skill we’re going to cover in huge depth during Advanced Engagement Methods. If you have the means to take the program and want to reach a higher level in your field, I hope you will join us.