How small nudges can change the world

Many communicators are hoping to make a difference in their community, whether through education or persuasion. Here’s how small steps can lead to big picture progress.

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It’s easy to feel that making a difference in how humans act is possible only through seismic change.

Whether it’s building a massive wall or instituting a Green New Deal, big reforms now dwell at the center of our national rhetoric and politics.

Less discussed are smaller, but still meaningful changes that have shown to make a powerful impact on human behavior. We might call them “relatively small maneuvers,” or nudges. Consider a few:

These tactics offer hope that with important—albeit not sweeping—changes, we can make dramatic, lasting reforms in important areas such as gun safety, consumer savings and the environment.

For communicators—especially those working in issue advocacy and public affairs—this has meaningful implications. At a time of heightened partisanship locally and nationally, it’s easy to feel that making headway on issues requires Herculean effort. That’s especially true when battles are framed in terms of large, all-or-nothing endeavors.

The power of relatively small maneuvers should tell us otherwise—and offer hope for driving real change in the way people think and act.

To maximize our opportunity for achieving this positive change as communicators, three key lessons should guide us:

1. We have the power to change hearts and minds.

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