Talking to others is one of the best ways to motivate people to join your cause. What you say is key, but how you deliver your message can be even more important. Differences in opinion, a lack of trust, or misinterpreted words can make things complicated. To get started, dip your toes into this section to learn which communication tactics will equip you to effectively engage with others.
Sometimes when we talk to people, it seems as if words go in one ear and out the other. What’s preventing people from really hearing you? This video breaks down the four most common barriers: perceptual, emotional, cultural, and physical. By identifying which barrier stands in your way, you can adjust your tactics to have a more meaningful conversation.
With thousands of communication methods to choose from, how do you decide which to lead with? We focus on empathy, active listening, mirroring, and non-verbal communication. The techniques described in this video will help you hone your communication skills to deliver your message to others in a manner which will resonate with them.
Knowing the communication barriers you might encounter and how to address them by changing your tactics sets you up for a good conversation, but a great conversation requires a balance between talking and listening. Learn more about the reciprocity of conversations based upon ten simple rules used by industry interviewers to lay the foundation for both solid interactions and better relationships.
True listening requires a setting aside of one’s self.
– Scott Peck
Communications Strategy: Storytelling
Sometimes communicators have to speak to our emotions in order to be truly effective, and stories are the easiest way to accomplish this. Our brains don’t distinguish between fact and fiction well, so we tend to immerse ourselves in stories as if we were a part of them. When a narrative is used, we experience the information instead of just consuming it.1 Stories provide people with a new perspective and sharing yours shows others that you’re part of a movement bigger than yourself.
Nat Kendall-Taylor, a psychological anthropologist, explains why an understanding of culture, storytelling, framing, and science can improve your communication skills and ability to lead change.
You don’t have to be a bearded old man in front of a fireplace with a dark voice in order to be a great storyteller.
– David JP Phillips
Why Talk About Climate Change?
Climate change does not communicate itself. With dense climate science research and lengthy reports, it is a difficult arena to navigate that many tend to avoid. However, we need to be talking about climate change with others as often as we can. According to the graphs below, people are worried about it and know it is happening, but it barely gets any media coverage. That’s why we all have a play a role in engaging the public on this topic.2
So, it’s important to talk about climate change, but how should you do it? There’s no one-size-fits-all framework. You need to know who you’re talking to, anticipate their reactions, and change your tactics accordingly. These resources can help guide you through climate change communication with ease.
How to Respond to Common Misconceptions
Do you have unanswered climate misconceptions about extreme weather, rising temperatures, and renewable sources? Debunk clean energy myths by relying on these facts and figures with optimism on your side.3 4
Myth: Are renewables affordable without subsidies?
Friendly Response: “Yes, absolutely. Any industry which exists largely due to subsidies is something we should be watchful for, but that’s why it’s important to recognize that oil, gas, and coal all get billions of dollars per year in subsidies. As it turns out, every source of energy gets some amount of subsidies. What’s really impressive, though, is that once you take away the subsidies, do you know which forms of energy are the cheapest? Wind and solar.”
Myth: Is solar energy really a clean energy source? What about the panels?
Friendly Response: “I share your concern about the toxicity of our energy production, and I agree that we should pursue the types of energy that involve the smallest possible amounts of pollution. Every source of energy has some environmental drawbacks. If reducing pollution is your priority, then we surely need to steer clear of fossil fuels. While no form of electricity generation is entirely free from impacts, solar and wind are far cleaner options for us all.”
Myth: Are wind turbines bad for wildlife?
Friendly Response: “I hear you, and I am right there with you when it comes to wanting to protect wildlife. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an energy source that does not have some type of impact on the environment, but we can choose energy sources that have a smaller toll. Without question, wind and solar energy offer the best outcomes for birds and wildlife. Coal and natural gas disrupt wildlife over much larger areas, with fossil fuels causing 35 times more bird deaths per unit of energy generation. The best we can do is choose the cleanest, most efficient, and least-damaging forms of energy.”
Myth: Is clean coal a viable option?
Friendly Response: “While any type of coal mining would still be destructive to the environment, I sympathize with wanting to protect the people employed by the coal industry. However, in order to truly be clean and environmentally competitive, carbon emissions from coal would have to be mitigated through carbon capture and storage. Studies show that this process would have a price tag of two to three times higher than the unsubsidized price of wind and solar. Thankfully there are ways for coal communities to transition to clean energy in a just and equitable way.”
A key component of effective communication is knowing your audience. People vary in their people psychological, cultural, and political reasons for acting. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication has identified Six audience types that each respond to climate change differently.5
Global Warming’s Six Americas 6
The groups differ in their beliefs and knowledge, risk perceptions, political engagement, and behaviors. Take this short quiz to find out which segment you belong to.