The Writer Words can change behaviours

Words can change behaviours – if there’s a will and a way

Our new visual identity has thrown a few people out of kilter. The website’s hit the spot (thanks for all the positive comments). But getting to grips with new PowerPoint templates and fonts is like trying to write with the wrong hand.

Yep, changing behaviours is tricky. We need to want to do it (The Will) and be able to do it (The Way). And the parts of the brain in charge of motivation and learning new skills are completely separate. So if you want people to change, you need to work on both.

Trying to get people to change the way they write is no different. Like with a tone of voice project, all our clients are looking to change something through words. It might be brand perception, customer satisfaction, conversion rates or more efficient comms. Tone can do all of that.

But after a bit of digging, we usually find that what they really need is a cultural change. To help people live their brand values, communicate better with customers and each other, and be more efficient and productive. A well embedded tone can do all that, too.

You just need to give people The Will and The Way.

First, prove the value of change

Motivate people by making sure they know the benefits of writing in a new way (or in psychology lingo, the ‘reward value’). We run sessions with clients to get people talking about what tone can do for them, their brand and their customers. And to win over the sceptics and prove that the change is worth it. Like when we showed HSBC’s people how their colleagues saved £1.2m by writing better letters (and reducing call volumes).

Take the effort out of learning

Learning new skills and breaking old habits is hard. So we tailor training for different people’s learning styles. A mix of 90-minute sessions and shorter bursts can work well. Or you can run weekly drop-in sessions for people who prefer to learn on real-life projects. They simply drop in and get help on the spot.

Keep momentum and ‘change your culture by stealth’

That’s what our BT client said their writing did, back when we did their first tone of voice. If all your people write in a way that reflects your brand values, your culture will begin to change. Which filters out to customer experience and sets standards for new starters.

We’re still grappling with a new colour palettes and header styles. Your teams might be grappling with a new way of writing. Make it clear why you want people to change – and make it easy – and new will become normal in no time.

Is your tone of voice driving change? Or is it languishing unloved in a drawer? See how it measures up with our interactive Tone of Voice guide.

0 min read, posted in Culture, by The Writer, on 29 Mar 2021