Among all things difficult for human beings, change will be part of the top 1%. We are so anti-change such that we would rather that we remained in our caves, hunting and gathering for survival than what we have now if change wasn’t forced on us. Yet, the pages of history are full of retrospective appreciation of change. Now we cannot imagine a world without a mobile phone, immersive connectivity and electricity. If it is such that change always ushers us good fortune, why do we still fight and repulse change?
The narrative of change makes us fear it. Change, especially the systemic ones, almost always promise to change the very way we live our lives (culture). And this is not something we are by nature wired to embrace. We are wired to embrace comfort and status quo, it takes extra willpower from us to embrace change. This extra willpower is more often than not difficult to get on a populace level. It is easier to get one person to embrace a new way of life than for a group of ten to embrace the same. The dynamics though is that if these individuals are approached individually, they may embrace the same more than being in a group.
To drive change and see people embrace change both on an individual level, and populace level, I have found that communication is the number one most important thing.
Communicating change to drive acceptance
The history of humankind is laden in different believe in stories. Stories matter to humans and we have developed and got better at telling these stories over the centuries. How you communicate change matters, and the best way to do so is to tell stories of the change.
In 2015, for example, we agreed with President Buhari (PMB) to change the fuel price from N97 to N145, this was a different attitude from what we had with President Goodluck (GEJ). What changed between GEJ and PMB? Simply story! Not to say that President Buhari is better at telling stories, but to point out that we chose to believe a different story from what we earlier believed.
We believed that unlike President Goodluck, President Buhari will remove subsidy and make good use of the money. Hence, no clampdown at the price hike. Whether we like it or not, how the stories of that period were shaped made us believe that. And when you think about it, the story started by parading PMB as the messiah, before we saw him clearly.
Well, that was just an example of how proper communication (storytelling of change) can help drive change acceptance where it was erstwhile rejected.
The next time you aim to implement a change in your personal life or within a group of people (company, organization, country, community etc), learn to effectively communicate the story behind the change. Story matters to humans by their nature and they tend to always buy-in to stories that even though promises a change, also promises a good end.