people change behaviour
Image Source: Master Influence

Governments recently were tasked with changing people’s behaviors when the pandemic hit. Don’t go out, wear a mask. Directives were everywhere. While all of these changes were for people’s betterment, people are less likely to respond to directives. So, here’s how you can influence people’s behaviors and why directives don’t work:

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Why Don’t Directives Work?

Because we all like to feel in control of our decisions, directives aren’t particularly helpful in causing prolonged behavior change. They work in the short term. Why did I use that service, purchase that item, or carry out that action? Because of personal likes and dislikes. 

people change behaviour
Image Source: HBR

Therefore, when someone tries to sway our opinions, we don’t just go along; instead, we resist their persuasion. We do the things people ask us not to do. We avoid following their advice because we don’t want to feel like they are in charge of us. It’s about feeling in control of our decisions and actions.

Ask Questions Instead

The same idea might be expressed as a question, such as, “Do you believe not wearing a mask will not harm anyone?” If someone responds “no,” they are suddenly in a difficult situation. Encouraging everybody to express their viewpoint allows them to set down a marker and declare that such things aren’t good for them. It allows for self-reflection and self-improvement.

Highlight Inconsistencies

people change behaviour
Image Source: Inc Magazine

You could also highlight the inconsistency in their beliefs and actions. You could do this by highlighting a gap between people’s ideas and deeds. You can also show them that what they may advise others to do and what they really carry out are very different. This way you might give them a greater sense of independence and power.

Make Your Requests Smaller

Big requests and substantial ones are frequently declined. They enter what scientists refer to as “the area of rejection” and are rejected because they are so different from what people are doing at the moment. You can’t ask somebody addicted to something to drop it the same day. Instead, ask them to reduce their daily intake for example!

people change behaviour
Image Source: Healthline

It would be preferable to scale back the first request. Ask for less at first, then more later. Divide a challenging request into smaller, more manageable portions.

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