BY:Graeme Trayner, Owain Service, Katie Cissel, Eugene Malthouse, Umar Taj
How do we communicate on risk?
Every day we’re bombarded with demands for our attention – with the sheer volume of information often overwhelming us. How then do communicators make sure what they say and do gets noticed, and acted upon – especially when the stakes are high? The answer lies in part by drawing on the behavioral sciences – and how we can work with the grain of how people weigh up evidence and make decisions.
At Finsbury Glover Hering in partnership with The Cognition Company – set up by a founder of the UK Government’s ‘Nudge Unit’ – we conducted research in the U.S. and UK looking at how organizations should communicate on risk.
Whether we were seeking support for a transaction, spearheading a change and transformation program, or managing a crisis, the scenarios in our research point to more effective ways to communicate:
- What points of view people are willing to accept, or likely to reject, is determined by the beliefs and emotions they bring to the table
- Time and energy in communications is often spent wordsmithing what an organization says, but the messenger plays an outsized role in determining whether that message is believed
- What we believe and do is heavily influenced by those around us, and what we feel others expect of us – decision-making is social, not individual
Authors:Graeme Trayner, Partner, Washington, DC
Owain Service, CEO, Cognition Company
Katie Cissel, Partner, Washington, DC
Eugene Malthouse, Senior Researcher, Cognition Company
Umar Taj, Director of Behavioural Decision-Making, Cognition Company
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