Patience and time in behaviour change
By Toss Gascoigne
‘New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.’ (John Locke)
If you want people to change their approach or behaviour, give them time. Recognise the pressures working against you.
It takes time for people to listen to an idea, roll it round in their heads, and then absorb its implications. Bear in mind that most people are conformists at heart. They want practical answers, they want to maintain and build social relationships, and they want to believe in themselves.
They enjoy the security of the herd, and don’t want to stand out.
So what affects the way your message may be received by people? It is likely to fail if the messenger is not liked or trusted. It won’t work if people do not see themselves winning social approval for making the change you suggest, and it won’t work if your message clashes with established patterns of behaviour.
‘To change society’s opinion, we must bring options that don’t go against what the ‘tribe’ want. Options that run in parallel to pre-existing ideas, that people can take on without standing out, are most likely to cause changes in society’s behaviours.’ (Communication Strategies for Change, post by students of the Science Communication program at the University of Western Australia)