11/18/2014 05:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why Traditional Comms Fail to Engage

Every organization knows that to be successful they need to engage their people. That's why so much time and energy is spent on communication. Yet despite our best efforts, over 75% of people are disengaged or actively disengaged at work.

In collaboration with Mark Fuda at Seven Stories, we have identified four key factors that expand the gap between how we communicate and how people engage with that communication:

  • People speak intellectually but engage emotionally; in business we typically use intellectual rationalization to sell what we do. We say things like "we are the biggest" or "we are the best". The challenge is that we make decisions based on how we feel. To get people to engage you can't just speak to the head. You have to speak to the heart.
  • Facts are hard to remember and easy to challenge; while being factually accurate is important, we don't typically remember facts unless they are anchored to an emotion. We all know smoking kills but it is often not until we lose someone close to us as a result of smoking that we are able to kick the habit. People can also be distrusting of facts because it is often possible to find facts to support both sides of an argument.
  • If we only talk about our success people won't believe us. Most corporate communication talks about how great things are and will continue to be, rather than acknowledging real issues and challenges. People engage with authenticity, and you can't be authentic unless you tell the whole story.
  • If everything is important, nothing is important. Conventional thinking is "communicate more x multiple channels = greater engagement. In reality this approach results in greater NOISE. People don't want more communication; they want meaningful communication.

To engage people, communications must speak to our emotions and the simplest way to achieve this is through story.

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