One of the morning workshops on Saturday was “Communicating Transition Effectively”, led by Nick Osborne and based on concepts borrowed from Integral theory and Spiral Dynamics that identify different categories of worldview commonly held by people. These categories range from autocratic and authoritarian systems of belief on one end of the spectrum, to more modern, technophilic, green and “integral” belief systems on the other.
There’s much more to this, of course, but the practice of grouping people psychographically, that is, according to values, attitudes, and beliefs, has been going on for decades and is used by political consultants, marketers and advertising firms to inform communications strategies. Depending on the psychographic profile of the “target” audience, messages can be crafted to maximise influence. For example, people with traditional worldviews value authority, clear definitions of right and wrong, and a strong sense of morality, therefore messages, such as “acting to make the economy more equitable is our moral duty” may resonate more effectively than “we must overturn the corporate capitalist system”.
The aim of the workshop was to impart some of this know-how to help Transitioners to preach beyond the converted. It included role play with small groups play acting various worldviews, while other groups practiced communicating typical Transition messages. What Nick pointed out, and what was by now abundantly evident, the messages we tend to construct in our transition work are crafted by folks of a particular world view for those who share that worldview. To reach people with different views, values, and philosophical proclivities we’ll need to develop empathy for where other people are and how they view the world. We’ll also need to become more flexible in how we communicate. The last part of the workshop focused on practicing those skills, translating and re-articulating messages.
The implication in the session is that groups are working to communicate and influence outside the typical “green” people, the converted, who are naturally drawn to Transition. Whether groups are doing this or not is an interesting question. But if we’re truly in this together, then surely we much find ways of connecting with diverse groups, tribes, and political parties, speaking their language, and finding common ground.
Image: the Universal Translator Reference Sheet, from Intregral Institute.