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How to get people to act?

People have a deep inherent need to (have the feeling that they) control their lives. Take that away, even if it’s just a little bit, and you will often face resistance. Understanding this is super important if you ever aim to get people to do something, for example, behave more sustainably. But how do you avoid resistance and get people to act?

One of the most effective ways to create change is through self-persuasion; placing people in situations where they are motivated to persuade themselves to change their own attitudes or behavior. In one study, smokers were exposed to messages about the health risks of smoking. In the first case, someone read the script to them; in another case, the smoker had to read the script out loud themselves. In that latter case, people found the ideas more persuasive than when the very same evidence and data were read by someone else. Merely the act of reading the message, as opposed to listening to the very same message, changed the ownership that people felt in relation to the idea.

The same concept can be applied in meetings as well. You’ve probably found yourself in meetings in which you disagree with the direction your team was taking. Instead of giving counterarguments immediately, first get people to tell you they’re open to what you have to say. How? Listen very closely and then ask the question: Are you open to a different point of view? I see the merits of your position, but I have some concerns. When you ask that question to people, the vast majority will say yes, and simply getting people to say yes, in fact, makes them more open to your point of view.

In short, we are most effectively and profoundly influenced, not by ideas and data and evidence that people give to us or force upon us, but rather by ideas and evidence we generate on our own (or at least feel like we did).

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Author

Kim Pillen

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Kim Pillen

Consultant

Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips, bol.com, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff

Researcher

Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.

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Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist