Changing People’s Mindset and Shifting Culture

Several recent letters in the newsletters were talking about the need for mindset change and culture shift, and that it is up to us to make a difference for a gracious or sustainable Singapore.

I think it is getting harder to change mindset, culture and behaviour in this digital and fast-paced age, as compared to the past when there are only few channels of communications and limited mental entertainment. Now we are bombarded by messages daily such that we feel numb and resist change.

How then can we change people’s mindset and shift culture? Maybe we can do it through two ways:

1) Moving from education to engagement

We probably need to focus less on mass campaigns, one-off events, and education through mass media, and emphasise more on involving stakeholders in direct action over a period of time and also through targeted groups and media channels.

To build engagement, we need to understand the targeted group through regular conversations, build relevance of our message into what they are already doing and their daily lives, develop commitment with specific actions they can take and follow-through, use specific media that they are already using, and have the means of measuring success and feedback to them.

2) Using stories to invoke emotions

Humans are not really rational and many of our actions are resulting from our emotional needs and wants. We also love stories which inspire, touch, and entertain us. Good stories can stir our emotions and make us change. The advertising and branding industry are experts in using stories to change our mindset and behaviour.

We probably need to have more personal and inspiring stories to help us feel the need to change. One way is to have different groups of people such as parents with newborn kids to share their narratives and stories. Can we get them to tell their stories of why they adopt green practices, and their hopes and aspirations for their kids?

The other way is through the power of films, which use stories to not just entertain us but also to invoke our emotions to think and feel deeper. One recent film, Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above, uses aerial shots to show the beauty of Taiwan’s natural landscape but also to expose human’s impacts on the environment. Through simple narratives and music, the film manages to invoke our sense of belonging and protection of our environment. This is the power and beauty of storytelling.

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