Neuro-hacks are small, deliberate interventions that drive a specific response. They come from the latest neuroscience about how our brains process information and take decisions.
We increase the chances of persuading our stakeholders to act by matching our messages to how brains work. By communicating in a brain-friendly way, we reduce the amount of persuading we do. Our messages are assessed by the brain as sensible, logical, and desirable.
This is a smarter working approach than sharing the benefits of the change, role-modelling or telling inspiring stories, which create positive feelings about the change but don’t necessarily lead to action.
Neuro-hacks are a turbo-charged way of cutting through fatigue and resistance to get the results we need. For example, our stakeholders will make changes if we trigger the primal urge for predictability using a “cohesive picture” technique.
Predictability is the deep need we have for certainty. We need to know what will happen next and that what is happening is expected. Our brains find reassurance in predictable patterns of behaviour. We continuously assess our environment and our experiences, analysing what has happened before to create an expectation of what will happen next.
When we don’t know what is going to happen next, we experience stress. Similarly, if we get an unexpected result, we suffer shock, a negative reaction caused by the difference between what did happen and what we expected to happen.
For example, if I go to open a door, my brain has already set out an expected pattern for what will happen based on the last time I opened that door. It has worked out that I need to turn the handle, not push it down. It expects me to pull the door towards me to open it. If this pattern is broken because the door doesn’t open then I become instantly stressed. If the door opens as expected, my brain moves to the next task.
We can create predictability even when we are describing our change. We can create the feeling that the change is an expected result by demonstrating that it is the natural outcome of what has already happened. It flows from the changes that have already taken place by making use of what happens now and by building on this capability with more new ways of working.
If we are really good at this technique, we can extend the feeling of predictability by describing how our change is an enabler of what comes next.
The need for predictability is met, and our brain approves the change, which triggers engagement with the change.