Ranting & Raving Won’t Get You Anywhere
All of us know somebody who has an obsession about something or other. Every time you speak to them, you know that the topic’s going to come back to that issue sooner or later. So what do you do? You try and get out of the conversation as quickly as possible. Does the obsessor have a point? Who knows? It isn’t worth anybody’s while to stop and find out.
Large chunks of the green movement fall into the same trap. Believing that they are right (often about everything), self appointed activists believe it is their mission to keep up a constant barrage of pressure/slogans/abuse. If the target of this campaign clamps their hands over their ears, it’s the fault of the target rather than the campaigner.
The roots of my Green Jujitsu approach to engagement were witnessing what works (working to strengths) and what doesn’t (pressure, insults, abuse). The clever pressure groups tap into the natural competitiveness of business leaders by publishing league tables of sustainability performance like Greenpeace’s electronics firm rankings. Likewise I found that getting engineers to develop sustainable solutions was much more effective than throwing a guilt trip at them. As Socrates says, you should speak the language of your audience, not the one that resonates with you.
This takes a strange brew of humility and guile – to work out what your audience’s ‘buttons’ are and how to press them. To get what you want, you have to first think about what they want.