Why is communication planning so important? As it would seem, everyone can communicate now more than ever before. It is, now common sense that we are in an era of information overload, and it is becoming much harder to cut through with your brand or business communication. This is also true for internal communication.
Communication itself is an art and a dark one at that. It can evoke emotion, thought, understanding, and it can provide unity in times of difference. However, it can also create panic, fear, misunderstanding, separation and, as we discuss here, alter the mindset. In a world where fake news has become rife, and able to spread nine times faster than an official news story, what we say, hear and read matters more than we know.
Below are findings that will help any business leader ensure their internal communications are working hard enough to help keep teams motivated, especially during times of great change and challenge.
Changing Mindsets With One Sentence
A famous study, conducted by Alexander O’Connor at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012, discovered that people’s mindsets could be influenced by just reading a set of statements. They divided a group of university students into two groups to look at mindset and performance.
The participants read a total of eight quotes on the nature of creativity. Both groups of students read nearly the same list of quotes except for one.
O’Connor presented group one with the following as its final quote:
“Most artists and supposed creative types just copy someone else. They adjust, tweak a little, but overall it’s just the same thing. But some people have some inherent quality that lets them see the bigger picture and do something truly creative.”
The second group read this quote instead:
“Most artists and supposed creative types just copy someone else. They adjust, tweak a little, but overall, it’s just the same thing. But some people work to a point that lets them see the bigger picture and do something truly creative.”
When the two groups of students were then asked to complete several tests of creativity, the researchers found that those in the second group were significantly more inventive. This is because the second group’s final quote was designed to evoke a growth mindset. In comparison, the first group’s final quote was designed to encourage a gifted mindset.
Just one sentence had rebooted people’s beliefs about the nature of creativity, which subsequently affected their resourcefulness.
Gift‐mindset and Growth mindset
Rob Yeung, (PhD) psychologist, business speaker and management author identifies two mindsets that people usually adopt when it comes to self-belief in ability and personal development.
Gift-mindset is the belief that the natural traits people have are innate and can’t be learned, such as creativity, leadership, charisma. People with a gift-mind set reach a level of personal development and stop being open to further change.
A growth-mindset is the belief that these traits can be learned and those with a growth mindset are open to learning or activity trying to build new skills continuously. The research shows that these two mindsets can be triggered by the communication that people are exposed to.
If we go back to the first group, the quote stating that creativity is an “inherent quality” plunged those who read it into a gift mind set – it strengthened in them the belief that creativity is simply something innate, you either have it, or you don’t. So, quite unknowingly, this group tried less on the test of creativity.
Conversely, the second quote stating that “some people work to a point that lets them see the bigger picture and do something truly creative” helped to shift the thinking of the students who read it, into the growth mindset. As a consequence, these students became “sparky” and more imaginative.
It demonstrates that just a single sentence was able to instil in people, a special way of thinking that allowed them to achieve more. So imagine what power each word has.
What Can Leaders Learn?
Experiments and findings like this, suggests that internal communication that evokes a growth mindset could be an essential tool to improve productivity. Using language that encourages a growth mindset, in addition to a management structure that cultivates this for its employees, could lead to businesses being more adaptable and open to change.
This is also worth considering the above points when speaking to those who are re-skilling, since self-belief in one’s ability to adapt is the key to how quickly, and confidently, people can take on board new skills. After all, as the saying goes - “Never underestimate the power of planting a seed”, don’t forget to water and nature it either.
Rasha El-Shirbini is founder of marketing consultancy Social Jaguar and Marketing Director at Qalhata Technologies.
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