So far we've talked about two strategies that are useful to help people change minds by reducing reactants. And I want to give you one more. It's called highlighting a gap, which is essentially pointing out a disconnect between someone's thoughts and actions. A disparity between what they might recommend to someone else versus what they're actually doing themselves. And to help us understand this principle, I want to show you a quick video. This is from an organization in Thailand that wanted to get people to quit smoking. They had tried a number of different approaches, encouraging people to call quitlines. Giving out more information about why smoking was a bad idea, but not enough people are calling the quitline. And so they tried to figure out what else they could do differently, and they hit upon this really clever strategy. So I'm going to show you this quick video and then we'll talk about it briefly. So here we go. [MUSIC] >> [FOREIGN] [MUSIC] >> This is a pretty amazing video, right? It's really powerful to watch a kid asked a smoker for a pack of cigarettes. And of course the smoker said no. Who would say yes to a kid, right? No one would give a kid a pack of cigarettes. If you listen to the smoker though, they not only said no, it's clear that they know a lot of information. It's not that smokers are smoking because they think smoking is healthy. That guy knows more than a doctor about all the reasons why smoking is a bad idea. And he was very happy to reel them off to a child who was thinking about smoking. Yet he was still smoking himself. The Thai campaign was hugely successful. As noted in the end of the campaign, it got more than 40% more people to call the quitline than it had before. The video went viral on social media, millions of people around the world saw it. And it helped more people quit smoking other countries than most other campaigns ever had. But it worked by doing something very subtle. It worked because it highlighted a gap, or a disconnect between what smokers were suggesting to others. In this case, kids and what they were doing for themselves because most people strive for internal consistency. They want their attitudes, their beliefs and their behaviors to align. If I say I care a lot about the environment for example, well, then I better do my best job to recycle and reduce my carbon footprint. If I say that being honest is really important then I probably shouldn't tell lies. So people want those two things to line up. Importantly though, when they don't line up, when my attitudes and my behaviors conflict, we tend to get uncomfortable. And to reduce this discomfort or what scientists often call cognitive dissonance, people take steps to bring things back in line. The smokers in the Thai campaign face this exact discord. They were already smoking and they were pretty happy doing it. But after telling kids that smoking was a bad idea, in some ways they were stuck, right? They had told people that they shouldn't smoke, yet they were smoking themselves. Their attitudes, or what they were recommending for others, and their behaviors weren't lining up. And to reduce that discord something had to give, they either had to stop smoking or tell the kid that smoking was okay. And which of those do you think is more likely? The same ideas been used in a number of different context. A number of years ago at the University of California Santa Cruz there was a water shortage. As we know California often runs out of water, and so the university was trying to get students to use less water. They asked students to use less water. They encourage students to use less water but students weren't doing it. And so some scientists had a clever idea to try to get students to actually do what they wanted. And so in this particular case, instead of asking people to save more water, scientists just asked them to sign a petition. Asking them to recommend that other people save more water. Other people say more water, of course people are more than happy to recommend that. They signed the petition, but then for some of those people on their way into the gym, the researchers intercepted them and asked them to fill out a survey about their own behaviors. Not ask them to change those behaviors, just fill out what those behaviors were. Highlighting for them that they weren't always necessarily taking a short shower or saving water. And then when those people got into the gym, and went to take a shower after they worked out. The scientist hid in the showers and actually timed how long they took. Imagine by the way, as an aside here being the research assistant tasked with doing that study. You're sitting with a pair of swim goggles and a shower with a swimsuit on, a little stopwatch measuring how often people are showering, how long they're taking. Well, the researchers found that people who had both filled out that petition and filled out the survey. People would recommend that other save water but recognized they weren't saving water themselves, shorten their showers by more than a minute, or over 25%. By highlighting a gap between their actions and their recommendations, what they were suggesting that others do and what they were doing themselves. By highlighting that gap, they changed behavior. We can apply this idea in a variety of situations. Think about at the office, for example, when there's an old project that's not working. We've invested a couple years in it and a bunch of money, but people don't want to kill it. They have inertia or the status quo bias and they don't want to kill an old thing. They're wedded to that old thing even though it's not working. Telling them to kill that thing is not going to work. They feel bad about the fact that it's not working so they're not going to kill it. But take a subtly different approach, rather than asking people to kill the project, ask them what they would recommend for someone else. Imagine we have a new manager for example. There's someone else in another company asking whether this project has worked out or whether they should start something similar. What would you tell them? Well, of course the person is going to say no, we know it didn't work here. It's losing money and we haven't killed it yet, but it's not the best idea. And after that you can say, well, if it's not the best idea, if you wouldn't recommend it for someone else, why are we still doing it here? Why are we still continuing something you wouldn't recommend for someone else? By highlighting that gap, by pointing out that what they would recommend for someone else is not the same thing they're doing themselves. You can make them more likely to change their own behavior. And so rather than trying to persuade, rather than pushing harder, we need to start with understanding. It's almost like weeding a garden in some ways. There's a fast way to weed a garden. If there's lots of different weeds that are stuck up, just pull the tops off, right? That's the easy way to do it. But that's also going to cause you more problems in the long run because if all you get is the top of the weeds, they grow back. And the same thing is true of change, if we don't understand the core problem, it's going to be really hard to fix it in the long term. We need to find the root. We need to figure out what that key thing is that's causing someone to be unwilling to change, figure that out and mitigate it. When people feel like someone's pushing or trying to convince them, they often push back. They dig in their heels and they resist, and so to change minds, to change action, to change organizations. We need to stop trying to persuade and encourage people to persuade themselves. We need to do things like providing a menu, set of guided choices that allow people to pick their path to their desired outcome. Let them feel like they're in control of where they're going. Like Nafeez Amin, we need to ask rather than tell. We use things like questions to encourage people to commit to the conclusion. Or like the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, we need to highlight a gap. A disconnect between what people might recommend for others versus what they're doing themselves. No one likes feeling like someone is trying to influence them. Anytime someone feels like someone's pushing or trying to persuade them, they push back. After all, when's the last time you changed your mind because someone told you to?