1) Identify the three dominant worldviews, or Eco-Selves, amongst the target population.
2) Develop a separate sustainability communication (with images if needed) for each of these worldviews, drawing upon relevant authorities and communication sources, and using the ‘best-fit approach’ guidelines.
3) Combine the three separate communications into one, being careful not to use any of the ‘demotivators’ for any of the worldviews. As long as no ‘cold buttons’ are pressed, people will tend to ‘hear’ only that which resonates with their worldview.
For example, someone with an Eco-Manager worldview will tune into the Eco-Manager-specific communication yet pass over the part of the message tailored to the Eco-Strategist or Eco-Warrior.
This process demands that we be mindful of our own worldview. If the communication I’ve crafted sounds good to me – yet I haven’t tailored it to the audience’s worldviews – then I am most likely on the wrong track. I may be merely communicating the way I see the world, which might be either a fundamental (unconscious) dishonoring of the audience, or lazy scholarship.
Knowing that different worldviews exist, I feel a deep, internal responsibility to learn from and learn about an audience first, and then tailor the message as specifically as possible.
I believe that this depth of conscious communication is requisite for all sustainability education if we are to authentically and intelligently respond to the increasing complexity of our environmental and social challenges. This process is ultimately about 1), profoundly understanding ourselves and how we see the world, and then 2), turning that mindful engagement to our audience and striving for seamless mutual understanding.
While this approach is by no means a panacea, it is a vital part of successful communication. For years now, various senior leaders in UNICEF have successfully tailored all their communications to local worldviews. Currently, business consultants, government officials, and civil society leaders from around the world do this as well.
If this manner of meeting people where they are resonates in your heart and mind, I invite you to test it, learn more, and eventually use this approach in all your communications about sustainability.