George Lakoff, a familiar name in these Daily Thoughts, is on a mission. The US cognitive psychology specialist, emeritus professor, political adviser and communications expert, wants to convince those who dislike, disagree, detest or are enraged by Trump’s tweets, not to reply, engage or forward. These behaviours would only reinforce the sender’s message by simply repeating it or giving it air time.
Translation, you don’t fight a negative (communications) frame by repeating the very same frame. Example: ‘This is an obvious toxic product. What do you plan to do with it?. Reply:’ ‘No, it’s not toxic, because…’. What comes after the word because is now irrelevant. You just got ‘toxic’ twice, not once, in seconds’. Congrats. On TV, you can distinguish media-trained politicians from the others by simply observing the above pattern. What you give airtime to, wins. Full stop.
I am a collector of bad-behaviour-warning-signs. I take pictures when I see them. It’s not difficult. But my favourites are in hospitals and airports.
‘Any form of violence against staff is unacceptable. Aggressive, abusive or threatening behaviour will not be tolerated’. Frankly, avoid that hospital if you can. Violence against staff, aggressive clients, abusers, people who threaten all over the place. A package.
You wanted to prevent abuse, you have just told me that abuse is prevalent here, which is in fact an invitation to abuse. After all, there seems to be a lot of it. Experts perhaps.
Like those broken windows in the neighbourhood, that tells you that throwing stones to windows is a skillful local sport, and you should feel free to practice it.
My all times favourite is ‘Don’t abuse the nurses’. And also, more prosaic, yet equally alarming: ‘Don’t feed the ducks, they produce faeces in the patio’. By the way, that was in a hospital as well. True story.
For schools, you can buy in the web a ready made sign saying: ‘Violence abuse and threatening behaviour against school staff or other members of the school community will not be tolerated’. It’s cheap. Delivered to you door.
The same pattern is all over airport security, where men in uniforms shout thinks like ‘liquids’ and ‘belts’. But apparently they are also abused like those nurses.
Against widespread negative, you launch widespread positive. ‘Thanks for being so kind to us. Appreciated. We are trying hard to improve things. As a result of you being so nice and able to recognise our hard work, we have now shortened the lines by 15 min. Or our nurses and staff can be less stressed and look after to very ill.
Please edit! I’m not giving you a product, just the idea.
Epidemic of nastiness? Never fight it from within. Create a counter-epidemic of goodness or kindness.
Choose your frame, or the frame will choose you.