How communication strategies can be used to influence behavior change

The art of influence is one of the most powerful tools and assets in an organization. As a CEO, department head, investor or even as an individual, mastering the art and power of influence will keep you at the top when it comes to achieving the organizational goals and maintaining your professional reputation. You need to also understand the working culture and psychology of the group of people you want to effect behavior change. Influencing behavior is not a one-time activity. It cannot happen overnight. It requires investing time and effort and using proven and effective communication strategies. Influence on behavior requires patience as some of the strategies require long-term tactics.

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Some of the strategies that organizations could embrace to effect behavior change include:

  1. Empowerment

Empowering your staff by involving them in the organization’s decision-making processes sends a message that they are part and parcel of the organization. This depicts that they are valued and recognized. Managers who fail to recognize their staff’s success publicly risk losing the staff’s determination and hard work. Empowering your staff members cultivates a culture of gratitude and mutual respect. This is one of those strategies you need to place at the center of the organization’s activities if you want to yield great results.

  1. Identifying other people’s concerns through interpersonal awareness

As a manager, you ought to understand that your staff members are built differently. They have different personalities. Some are more vocal while others are reserved. Identifying techniques on how to reach out to all personalities only assures your staff members of your efficiency. To do so, you need to develop a good interpersonal relationship with them. Affirm mutual trust and provide a safe space where they can voice their concerns.

  1. Building a friendly communication relationship

For you to influence behavior, communication is a tool that you must not leave out of the picture. Communication allows you to learn and understand what your colleagues like, their interests and even their boundaries. Friendly and healthy relationships among staff members increase work efficiency in an organization. It ensures that your colleagues support you and are available when you need them. However, maintaining this relationship requires you, as a manager to also show up when you are needed. It requires constant effort, contact and even emotional energy.

  1. Developing organizational awareness

To effectively influence behavior in an organization, you need to first have a clear understanding of the organizational structure. This means you need to know key actors and decision-makers in that particular organization. You need to understand the “company politics” and align yourself strategically to achieve your goals.

  1. Finding a common ground

Finding a common ground where you prove that your ideas align with the organization’s overall vision is an art that will yield more wins for you. This is a strategy that goes unnoticed yet can be leveraged by staff members to gain prominence. This strategy requires extensive research and a clear understanding of the organization’s goals. As a manager, you have to show shared interests with the organization by going the extra mile in the execution of your duties.

  1. Using creativity in your idea presentation

Do you want your ideas to be at the fingertips of your leaders and staff members? Make the idea presentations creative, interesting and memorable. Make it fun. Nobody wants to sit through a boring presentation that might be duplicated. If you want to stand out from the crowd, make your ideas authentic and people will always look forward to listening to your pitches. Make sure you understand your audience to ascertain whether they appeal more to logos or pathos. Only then will you be able to draft a presentation that will have an appeal to them.

  1. Using threats and reprimands

This sounds controversial and unethical. However, it does not read coercion. Using threats and reprimands has in the past been proven as a good strategy to influence behavior. Human beings respond efficiently to threats and reprimands as they do rewards and praises. As a manager, you don’t have to throw fists or a pile of papers at your staff members. Again, creativity is key. Choose your words wisely. Let your staff members know that a goal failed to get accomplished will results in a cut in their bonuses at the end of the year. At this stage, you have already developed a friendship with them and you know to what extent they can go to ensure that the organizational goals are met.

Written by Leshan Charles, a Communication Consultant and edited by Solomon Irungu