When it’s an ELM. Well – we all like our little TLAs don’t we. What? TLA – sorry three-letter acronyms – do try to keep up. Now where was I? Oh yes our TLAs. So what’s this ELM stuff all about I hear you ask and can it help me at work? Well dear reader read on, and let’s start with a question. Have you ever been half listening and missed the point completely or when you half listen do you listen and often agree quite readily? If it’s the last one that’s ELM – wait for it – Elaboration Likelihood Modelling. You know they pay someone to come up with these names!
Well, ELM tells us that the way we process information depends on the way it’s presented to us. if someone makes a direct play for your attention and then gives you some serious pitch you are more likely to respond with scrutiny where as if someone takes a casual approach you’re more likely to take things on board. It’s not a soft sell, a soft sell’s still a sell, it’s more like you mentioning something in passing. People will listen to your passing comments, if you present them carefully, and are more likely to take those comments on board without any of that scrutiny stuff. Examples I hear you scream, examples….how about this. When you watch an ad on TV, which one’s make you agree with them more and which ones make you argue? The direct, confront the issue ones, like those with the celebrity selling expensive razor blades, are more likely to make you say “of course it’s not that” or “yes but what about….” whereas the fluffy nice ones where they guy gets the girl (or other way round) are supposed to make you say, “oh that sounds nice I’ll have some.”
The key is to give all the facts; you’re not hiding something. You’re just making it less important so that it ties in with people’s desire to trust others and go with the flow. So, where’s this going to be useful at work. How’s about this, ou’ve got a message to get across; you’ve got a captive audience at a staff training day about some new “stuff”.
If you make a logical and compelling presentation about “stuff” and keep peoples focus on the matter in hand you will engage them, but you will also make people use their intellectual processing – their heads – and they’ll automatically want to know about the ins, the outs and the far ends of “stuff”. If you keep your presentation low key by focusing on keeping them in a good mood, keeping the content light, you can introduce subtle clues as to the ideas you want people to pick up and the directions you want their thoughts to travel in. People will often go with the flow if they can but this peripheral route to making a decision (as the psychologists call it) can often lead to temporary changes. As the warm fuzzy feelings you created in the training room fade into distant memory then so behaviours can revert but it’s still a foot in the door.
If you’re looking to simplify, it all boils down to be nice and don’t ram it down their throat or slowly, slowly, catchy monkey. Maybe you can bring ELM into a strategy for changing things around at work. Why not let me know – love to hear.