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Engaging and communicating with the brain in mind

Musculoskeletal Disorders Symposium 2017

Engaging and communicating with the brain in mind
Presented by: Peter Kennedy Senior Manager at Ernst &  Young
Date: 20 June 2018

One of the greatest tools a leader has in their toolkit to help direct attention is effective questions. This webinar provides some practical tips on how to engage and communicate with your workforce to better manage MSDs. Peter Kennedy draws on his ten years' experience as a health, safety and wellbeing consultant to in this overview of brain fundamentals and how leaders at all levels can have better conversations to control risks in the workplace.

Peter Kennedy is a registered psychologist with more than a decade of health safety and wellbeing consulting experience.

Peter is currently a Senior Manager at Ernst & Young based in Brisbane and is primarily focused on the design and execution of long term health safety and wellbeing strategies which align workforce engagement, psychology and business-specific priorities.

Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 202MB)

Engaging and communicating with the brain in mind

Presented by Peter Kennedy, Senior Manager, Ernst & Young

Presented on: 20 June 2018

Suzanne Johnson:
Welcome, everybody. My name is Suzanne Johnson. I'm the manager of the Ergonomics Unit here at Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and the facilitator for today's webinar. This is the second of our on-call webinar series. I'm really pleased you could join us. We're running this series as a bit of an on-call from a very successful symposium that was held last year. We've created this series based on some of the more popular presentations and workshops that we held on that day. We can share them with a broader audience and yourselves and then onto your supply chain. Just to make sure you are in the right place, today's webinar is about engaging and communicating with the brain in mind. I'll get in an early disclaimer though that today is not about all the technical side of managing MSDs.

Suzanne Johnson:
When we developed the symposium, we planned this around some of the critical enablers and barriers that involved in workplace prevention of MSDs. Some of these presentations are the much broader topic. You'd appreciate one of our key initiatives is really around consulting participative ergonomics. I think communication and getting that right is very critical. You'd appreciate, also, that we might have really robust systems in place and excellent resources, but if we don't get this communication piece right, we're not going to have success. After today, our remaining webinars that we're running in July will be about performance indicators, the knots and bolts session, just to really get you started with MSD risk management. Please go ahead and register. To the other ones, go to the work safe website and get on the events page, encourage your colleagues and supply chain also.

Suzanne Johnson:
When we developed the symposium, we planned this around some of the critical enablers and barriers that involved in workplace prevention of MSDs. Some of these presentations are the much broader topic. You'd appreciate one of our key initiatives is really around consulting participative ergonomics. I think communication and getting that right is very critical. You'd appreciate, also, that we might have really robust systems in place and excellent resources, but if we don't get this communication piece right, we're not going to have success. After today, our remaining webinars that we're running in July will be about performance indicators, the knots and bolts session, just to really get you started with MSD risk management. Please go ahead and register. To the other ones, go to the work safe website and get on the events page, encourage your colleagues and supply chain also.

Suzanne Johnson:
Today's session with Peter will run for probably 35 minutes or so, around that. We'll see how we go. We'll look to have you here for 45 minutes. We are recording the webinar. If something comes up, if you're going to go and race off to a meeting, please don't worry. You'll be able to re-listen to it. Also, if you do have any questions and thoughts as they come along, please enter them into the chat box that you can see on your screens, and then send to all panellists or just type them in there and we'll be up to see them and get to as many as we can at the end of the formal presentation. If we don't get to them today, Peter has offered to provide us a written response and we'll pose that up on the webinar when we upload it.

Suzanne Johnson:
To get on with today, we're very fortunate that we've had a number of our presenters from the symposium, kindly making themselves available again to present. We really are very thankful for that. I would, now, like to introduce you to Peter, who is today's presenter. He's a registered psychologist with more than a decade of health, safety, and well-being consulting experience. He has worked across a variety of sectors ranging from power and utilities, transport, construction, government. He's partnered with the ASX 200 and global operations to help drive positive changes and safety culture maturity, leadership, capability, and corporate well-being. Very experienced presenting here today.

Suzanne Johnson:
Peter is a principal author and lead consultant in a successful work cover grant submission by designing a coaching and mentoring program for Queensland based organizations to improve young worker safety outcome. Currently, he is a senior manager at Ernst & Young (EY) based in Brisbane. He's primarily focused on the design and execution of long term health, safety, and well-being strategies, which align with workforce engagement psychology and business specific priorities. I'm going to hand it over to Peter to get started. Thanks for coming.

Peter:
Thanks very much, Suzanne, for that kind introduction. Thanks, also, goes to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland for having me back as part of the MSD symposium series. Also, thanks to all the participants who have hooked all in no doubt during their busy schedules to listen into today. Before we get started, I just mentioned that I'm currently sitting in a senior manager role within EY. Not many people know that EY look after things to do with health sector unit and environment. As a quick summary, we're one of the largest professional services firms in the world. We provide a variety of assurance tax consulting and advisory services to companies in over 150 countries. Specifically, within our sustainability practice, we are dedicated and multi-disciplinary HSC team. We're comprised with people of numerous backgrounds including OHS, psychology such as myself, law accounting and many more.

Peter:
There is no doubt that protecting the health and safety of workers in the environment has always been a focus for us at EY and also, the companies we work with. We help clients design and implement the Spoke Solutions to manage many merging risks and also, leverage opportunities across areas such as HSC governance and reporting, culture and leadership, management systems and mental health, but this is just a brief insight. If you'd like to know more about EY and what we do in the HSC space, just please don't hesitate to contact me later. Before we jump in with today's topic of engaging and communicating with the brain in mind, I believe we're just going to open a quick poll for people to respond to regarding a couple of questions. The first one being would just be great for me to understand what our listener's role within the organization is. I know that's very broad. In particular, I'm interested in, are we sitting in manager, supervisor, or leadership roles or would we just classify ourselves as a team member.

Peter:
Okay. The response is suggesting that most of us sit in the OHS or human resources specialist piece, which is good to know. Also, there's a bunch of you in managerial or supervisor roles, which is also great, particularly when it comes to us talking about these communication tools and how we can influence others to drive helpful behaviours. That's fantastic to know. I believe we'll move on to our second one. Sorry, folks. We're just closing the first polling question off. It looks like the second polling question has just opened. That's trying to give us some insight into what sector or industry you belong to. It looks like with regards to that question, folks, thanks for bearing with us. It looks like we've got a widespread across each of those sectors. In particular, education and trainee is coming through quite strong. Also, our healthcare and social assistance providers as well. No doubt, a variety of risks and HSC and MSD challenges across all those sectors. At times, I'll actually try and do my best to maybe reference examples of how we can use some of these communication tools when it comes to supporting those types of organizations.

Peter:
In order for us to move on, I'll just try to place out what our agenda or learning objective look like for the next 30 minutes or so. The scientist in me suggest that we should first take a very quick plans at the empirical evidence for communication and how the skill correlates with particular MSD outcomes. I'll try and move through that quite swiftly, so it leaves us plenty of time in terms of our next objectives, which is looking at the brain science 101 as well as an introduction of two simple communication tools or techniques that you can support, not only for your own behavioural changes, but as well as, hopefully, influencing others with regards to health and safety outcomes. Then third, I'll take you through at a very high level, some seminal research down on powerful communication by a lady called, Nancy Duarte. Of course, hopefully, we have some time for questions at the end.

Peter:
In terms of our first topic on the empirical research and what the evidence suggest for the links between communication and MSD research. At the top there, it's suggesting that work-related MSDs are one of the most common cause of occupational ill-health. From my perspective, both relevant and appropriate communication activity and tools are required to raise awareness and drive behaviour change. What I've tried to do in my scan of literature is just break it down into a few key categories there on the left-hand side. That's just, as I said, from my quick claims at the research. We know that musculoskeletal disorders constitute a substantial fraction of workplace injuries and can result in cost to employees, workers, and societies as a whole. If we don't get these prevention programs rights and attached to wider the organization approaches, it can be really costly ineffective and unmaintainable as well from a sustainability point of view.

Peter:
For that first one there around prevention, staying at open communication, coordination and that keyword of cooperation involved in the effective and sustainable prevention of work-related MSDs requires more of a promotion of a collective development of common understanding and representation of MSDs. This is a concept, actually, known as participatory ergonomics. It's a bit of a mouthful, which essentially allows us to debate amongst stakeholders about workers activity and strategies to cope with the work constraints in practice which could help them to share the representations of their work, the situation and the system, and how these all cooperate together. By allowing stakeholders to share those representations, therefore, it represents the useful tool for the prevention of MSDs and preventions should provide sufficient space and time for dialogue and discussion of workers' activities during both the conception, implementation, and management of integrated prevention programs.

Peter:
From a duration point of view, the evidence is really clear and that it shows that employer participation, early contact, and open communication between workplace and healthcare providers significantly reduces work disability duration in workers with MSD. Indeed, early intervention for workers with chronic MSD conditions is much more cost effective than paying long-term disability benefits at the backend. This is backed up in the next bit of research, which is around returns at work. Again, we're seeing that keyword of improved communication between all place leads to faster return to work unless sickness absence overall and again, is more cost-effective. Closely link the research supporting reduced duration. It's crucial that work is designed in a way that aims to prevent the occurrence or aggravation of the illness and to ensure that the ability of all the employees to work is maintained until their retirement age, but of course, if prevention is not possible, many chronic diseases can be effectively managed through appropriate workplace adjustments allowing for the return to work of employees after these periods of absences with MSDs.

Peter:
What I also noticed in the research was a key theme around roles and responsibilities. Many guidelines produced across the states including Workplace Health and Safety Queensland for the successful prevention of MSDs suggest that the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders need to be established at the early stages of strategies and initiatives. These roles need to be clearly defined and also monitored over time. Again, the interventions for MSDs are much more effective at all place, recognize their roles, take responsibility, and communicate open and positively throughout the process. Just closing the research part out then, I said it's a very, very quick glance. I think there's a few key points here to summarize. First is the idea of prevention. This idea of participatory ergonomics and these programs seek to maximize the involvement of the workers in the process based on the simple fact that the worker is an expert on his or her job.

Peter:
The participatory approach to ergonomics relies on actively involving workers in implementing their ergonomic knowledge, procedures, and changes with the intention of improving the working conditions for safety, productivity and quality of their work. The second point to note is that if prevention is not possible, employees should take a proactive approach to facilitate return to work. Well, I think all employees need education based on principles of good healthcare and workplace management. Therefore, the dissemination of good workplace preventative practices should be supported, promoted, and advertised. Again, this idea of knowledge transfer primarily comes down to good communication between all stakeholders. Finally, just to close out although it's not linked to research per se, communication is a quintessential skill when it comes to helping organizations make their legislative requirements. Just think, for those of you in leadership roles who are listening in with regards to due diligence obligations and from a risk management perspective or consultation point of view. The even better news though is that the research supports this and that overall open infrequent communication is better practiced for MSD prevention and the health, safety, and well-being of your workforce.

Peter:
I hope that's given us a brief insight into some of the BMSD research and the links between effective communication. Now, I'd like to move on to our second learning objective, which is a brief explanation of the brain combines with our two simple brain tools regarding effective communication. The brain is one of the most complex living organisms that we know of. It's actually made up of about 90% fat and water. Although it weighs approximately only 2% of our body weight, it consumes, approximately, 25 to 30% of our body's oxygen and energy resources. What we can see on our screen is a very simple brain model, which I'll now walk us through. It's probably one of the best known way for understanding the structure of the brain in relation to its evolutionary history. These three brain models actually have been around since about the 1960s. Obviously, it's been refined ever since due to advancements in technology and scanning imagery of the brain. However, the basic principles still ring through today.

Peter:
The first part I'd like to refer to is the brainstem, which is the red part there. It's the oldest and deepest area of the brain. It's often referred to as the reptilian brain because it resembles the entire brain of a reptile. Of the 12 body nerves that go into the brain, 11 of them actually end in the brainstem itself. This is where vital body functions such as heartbeat, respiration, body temperature and digestion are monitored and controlled. Importantly, for our talk today, the brainstem also has the reticular activating system, which I'll often talk about as the RAS, which is primarily responsible for the brain's alertness. The second part of the brain there in our three-part model is coloured in yellow, which is our limbic system. Most of the structures of the limbic system are duplicated in each hemisphere of the brain. These structures carry out a number of different functions including the generation of emotions and processing of emotional memories, consolidating things like learning and converting information from working memory as well as monitoring the internal systems to maintain the normal state of the body called, homeostasis.

Peter:
Many people have also heard of the part of the brain called, the amygdala, which is responsible for regulating our interactions with the environment and can quickly kick into being with our fight or flight response. This is often known as the amygdala hijack, which was a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his famous 1996 book, Emotional Intelligence. Finally, the green part there is our neocortex. It's the part of our human brain involved in that higher order thinking or brain function such as sensory, perception, cognition, degeneration of motor commands, and also things like problem solving, spatial reasoning and language. We often talk about the frontal lobes of the brain, which is just lying behind the forehead. This is often seen as the executive control centre. Before moving on, I want to reinforce that these three parts of the brain do not operate independently of one another. They have established numerous interconnections through which they influence one another. They're not mutually exclusive. For example, the neuropathways between the limbic system to the neocortex are very important and well-established when it comes to skills such as building resilience in your workforce.

Peter:
Now, we have a simple understanding of the brain, we're going to link this to the idea of communication. It goes without saying that 24 hours a day and seven days a week, we're getting million bits of data coming into your brain via your five senses. Information about your world, your body, your thoughts, your feelings and other people around you are all being processed by this wonderful piece of kit that's sticking along. Some of this information we're aware of and some that we are not. Our brain's job is to determine what we need to pay attention to in any given moment and time. One of the greatest tools that we have as both workers and leaders within industry in our leadership tool kits is to help direct people's attention through the art of good quality questioning. If we want to switch out of people's brains on to opportunities regarding the prevention of MSD within an organization, for example, we can simply do this by asking better quality questions.

Peter:
An effective question can promote a number of things including the sharing of work experience and knowledge. Again, referring back to participatory ergonomics, focusing people's attention on hazards and risks through consultation, challenging or the removal of assumptions within an organization. We can also use questions to spark the creation of ownership or building of relationships and trust. We can also ask strategic questions to help break down barriers and challenge people's mindsets on a particular topic. What we know from the research is that different types of questions elicit different responses. As such, some might be more useful for managing risk whereas, others to challenge organizational practices or even to promote individual self-reflection. We can think of questions being made up of three core principles in terms of their construction, the audience or target who is being focused on and also, the time frame involved.

Peter:
Let me just briefly explain what I mean there. What construction we're talking about, essentially, the close to open questions or what I refer to as broad versus narrow. Narrow questions often start with things like is, are or do. "Do you understand your obligations?" It could be the form of a yes, no question. "Are you resourced to perform this job?" would also be an example of another narrow-based type of question. We can then make broader-based construction questions through using statements such as what, when, where or why. Then we can also open our question with things like how or what if or if then, which really opens a window of inquiry into the listener's mind. The target refers to who we're getting people to reflect on is at an individual type base question such as, "What did you learn from that experience?" That's prompting you to self-reflect on what you might do differently.

Peter:
As a result of this webinar, you might go back to your team and your organization and say, "What does this mean for us in terms of MSD prevention?" Now, what's a much more broader question looking at a collective response in how you might engage with your wider stakeholders. Again, the audience of our questions may vary. The last one there is time. We can ask past or any type of questions, which we often do in things like instant investigations. We can ask very present focus questions around right here, right now and also get people to think about future possibilities and opportunities down the track. In terms of effective questions, I think it's really useful to think about redefining the problem or reframing, which is often about being able to ask a better question.

Peter:
In many cases, as health and safety professionals, we're often, I think, trying to solve the wrong question. Let me clarify. It's been about 40 years since research has empirically demonstrated the central role of questioning and problem reframing and things like creativity and innovation. I think it's from Albert Einstein to Peter Drucker's in business and Richard Branson and entrepreneurs have emphasized the importance of properly diagnosing your problem. Why the organization still struggle to get it right when it comes to health and safety? I think it's sometimes because we're not asking a more effective question. To give you a non-health and safety or MSD example, I'll refer to a recent article I read in HBR. It basically posed this scenario, imagine that you are the owner of an office building and your tenants are complaining about the elevator. Essentially, it's old and slow and they have to wait a lot. Several tenants are threatening to break their leases if you don't fix the problem because employees are starting to get frustrated with the white times.

Peter:
The brain can easily quickly pose the question, "Well, how do we make the elevator go faster?" When asked this question, we quickly identify some solutions. What often comes to mind are things like replace the lift, install the stronger motor, or perhaps, upgrade the algorithm that run the lift. These suggestions fall into what we call, The Solution Space, a cluster of solutions that share the same assumption about what the problem is. In this case, that the elevator is slow. However, when the problem is reframed with a completely different question such as, "What would make the weight less frustrating?" different solutions start to come to mind. The elegant answer to this question, which many have now solved is to put up mirrors next to the elevator. This simple measure has proved wonderfully effective in reducing complaints across CBDs across the globe, because people tend to lose track of time when given something utterly fascinating to look at, namely, themselves. Many foyers, also, now have coffee chats which also distract people from having to wait because they can now stand and enjoy their morning brew while waiting for the lift to arrive.

Peter:
The mirror solution is particular interesting, because in fact, it is not a solution to the originally stated problem. It doesn't make the elevator faster. Instead, it proposes a different understanding of the problem through a different question. Don't get me wrong, installing a new lift would probably work, but the point of asking a different question is to understand if there's a better question to solve. In fact, the very idea that a single root cause problem exist may even be misleading. We know from health and safety that problems are typically multi-causal and can be addressed in many ways. I think the same type of thinking can be readily applied to things like MSD prevention or improving health, safety, and well-being outcomes of workers in general. We often ask questions of people such as, "How can we improve employee well-being?"

Peter:
Again, it's not a bad question because it may lead to the quick implementation of programs such as mindfulness training, resilience programs or promoting helping eating habits or exercise programs. Again, great ideas if you have discretionary time and budget available. However, asking a different question such as, "What things contribute to a negative employee experience is likely to bring to mind a range of different answers that may include things such as psychosocial perspectives associated with poor work design, role ambiguity, lack of procedural justice or even limited decision-making latitude for employees. Now that we have this range of answers, we can be much more targeted in our approach and aim to actually implement what we call, Primary Preventative Mechanisms to better manage the risk to employee well-being. That brings us to the end of the importance of effective questioning.

Peter:
What I'd like to do now is to move on to another communication technique that is very helpful in supporting people with behavioural changes. If you try to influence people to do anything, for me, behaviour change is key. Probably, it comes as no surprise that by holding a strong goal intention doesn't guarantee goal achievement. I'm not telling you anything new here, right? Just think of how many times you've made a New Year's resolution and not follow through. This may be because of a number of reasons both individual and external. To address these issues, it is proposed that successful goal achievement is facilitated by a second apt which furnishes the goal intention with an if then plan, which specifies when, where, and how the person will instigate the response that promotes goal realization. These plans are termed, Implementation Intentions. What they are principally responsible for is addressing that intention behaviour gap which often exist when we're setting a goal.

Peter:
You can probably recall many instances where you had a good intention. For example, to order a low fat meal at a restaurant, but nonetheless, you failed to initiate on this action. Again, often for a number of reasons. There is often a trade-off between long term and short term consequences. Others might describe this common place situation as a dilemma between the head and the heart. Most of us are also highly unaware of how behaviour is guided by situational context, which is, in psychology, known as priming. Whereby, environmental cues can make us unconsciously perform certain behaviours that are not necessarily aligned to our end goal. This is where implementation plans come into play. Their often best phrase is, "If then" statements in order to facilitate the effective regulation of goal achievement.

Peter:
In short, if then plans increase the likelihood that strong goal intentions are realized. Depending on the research you read, you're potentially two to three times more likely to succeed with your goal if you use an if then plan than if you don't. For example, another analysis done about 10 years ago reviewed results from 94 independent studies that use the if then technique and found significantly moderate to high success rates for just about every goal you can think of, from using public transportation more frequently, increasing recycling behaviours, completing self-help check examinations and even, fairly enough, attending workplace health and safety training. These plans work so well because they speak the language of your brain, the language of contingencies. Humans are very good at encoding information in if X than Y terms, and then using this process often unconsciously to guide the behaviour. The creation of this mental link facilitate the goal attainment on the basis of psychological processes.

Peter:
Let me provide you with an example. Let's say, you're trying to lose weight by modifying your dietary intake. You're making if then plan. If the desert menu gets offered to me, then I'll order a cup of tea. Now, that might sound like a novel idea, but I've actually heard that one before with one of my clients when I worked within a hospital. Now, the situation of being offered the desert menu becomes highly activated. Below your awareness, what happens is your reticular activating system starts scanning the environment, searching for the situation in the if part of your plan, which has been stored in your limbic system. Specifically, the hippocampus. The great thing is, once the if part of the plan happens, the end part is likely to automatically follow because you've trained your brain using this type of communication. You don't have to consciously monitor your goal, which means, your plans often get carried out even when you are preoccupied. That saved us a lot of energy and also, requires less will power, which is fantastic for the brain.

Peter:
What I'd like you to do is think of the implications here for health and safety for our organizations and influencing people's behaviour. In fact, as I prepared for this, I could think of many examples in which you could actually use implementation intentions or if then plans. Simple examples may include, if a member of the public comes onto site while you're working, then choose to stop work and seek support. If you're completing a high risk task, then you might need a permit to work. If you hear this alarm, then move quickly towards your nearest exit. If you're driving for more than two hours consecutively, then stop revive survive. In fact, a lot of the health and safety information we provide people in a daily basis can use this if then type language to increase the likelihood that people engage with the desired behaviours. The thing is that we can provide these plans in the form of multiple areas such as emails when conducting training or even things like toolbox talks or pre-starts. They also help drive consistency of response to help achieve a great outcome.

Peter:
Okay. Very mindful of our time. Essentially, on that slide there is just a summary of what I've spoken about with regards to questions and implementation plans. Of course, if you like to learn more or if I can send you any research that I've quoted throughout that section, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. What I'd then briefly like to talk to you about now, given we have some limited time available, is to how it's highly your communications reach larger groups or audiences while using some powerful communication techniques. What you can see on the screen is, in order to do this, we're going to have a quick look at the ground-breaking work done by Nancy Duarte. She's rated as one of the world's top communication professionals. You can actually reference some of this work at a later date by looking at some of her TED Talks or even her book, Resonate, which details a persuasive way of structuring talks that deeply connects with an audience.

Peter:
What you can see is her visualization of I Have a Dream, the Martin Luther King's speech, which was publicly delivered back in 1963. The white line on the screen represents King's speech as a whole, with the bottom line representing in more current state and the top line representing a future state. Although it's arranged across quite a loose timeline, his speech moves quite eloquently from both past to present and also, to future states. There's, essentially, three key parts. Drilling down a bit, the first part of his speech is, essentially, the call to adventure. This should show the audience a gap between what is and what could be, essentially jolting the brain from complacency. When constructed effectively, an imbalance is created to the brain. The audience will want you to resolve this imbalance throughout your presentation. What you can see then in that lengthy middle part is what he uses as a call and response technique, otherwise known as comparing past versus future. For which, the audience, it creates cognitive dissonance. It actually gives us what we call a problem solving rush in the brain.

Peter:
Notice how the middle moves up and down quite frequently or back and forth between what is and what could be. He does this to create heightened energy and emotion within the audience. Again, tapping into the limbic system which we've previously explored. Third, the final turning point in this speech is the call to action which is represented by that last straight line. This transition points signifies he's coming to the presentation's conclusion, but it also clearly ends on the future bliss. This is the last thing left in the listener's mind. While focusing on this positive new feature, the listener's brain is likely to get a large sheet of the feel good chemical, dopamine, and combine with probably a little bit of adrenaline, kicks people into wanting to take action. What you can hopefully see on your screens now is some colour coding.

Peter:
Just to move through this relatively swiftly, what Nancy Duarte's has eloquently done is transcribe each of the sentences of King's speech, but then provided meaningful insights into how he structured his delivery using some techniques. The first colour we'll mention is pink, which is any time he uses visual words and metaphors. He masterfully uses descriptive language to create images in the minds. For example, at the end of his opening sequence King states, "America has given the negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds." Fairly enough, he then responds with another metaphor to describe future state. His quote is, "So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice." He uses a lot of visuals to strategically paint a picture in people's minds and again, elicit a lot of emotion. Most people know what it's like to have a bad check or no money in their account.

Peter:
King sprinkles his speech with picture words of ordinary things that are easy for the audience to imagine. Things such as flames, oceans, islands, hills and tables. He also uses a lot of action words such as people languishing or sitting down together. Again, something that the brain can easily connect with both logically and also emotionally. The blue in the speech represents any time that King uses repetition. He uses this very often. As we can see, it's in the third quarter of the speech where he engages the audience through repetition, using the phrases, "I have a dream," and then responding, "That one day." He repeats that time and time again. In fact, I only found out when researching for this webinar, the original title of King's speech was, The Fierce Urgency of Now. It was actually the audience and the people who renamed the "I Have a Dream Speech," because of this beloved sequence of repetition.

Peter:
The green buzz represents songs, hymns and spiritual literature from that era. He uses common ground by referencing these things that are familiar to the audience. Again, from a brain perspective to elicit an emotional perspective where he deliberately uses things that are precious to the audience. That's why his speech reaches a number of climaxes and engages the audience throughout the 16 minutes. The last colour we have left is orange, which I think is one of the most fascinating. This is the only time where he specifically makes a political reference such as documentation or information contained within the declaration of independence. For example, he states, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal." Again, a political reference and a promise that had been broken.

Peter:
To wrap this up, what I find personally fascinating is that in a highly memorable and political public address, there's not much politics, actually, in it. I think one of the main reason why and you might chuckle at this is due to him not relying on a PowerPoint presentation. The speech would not be stronger by showing pitches, grafts or statistics or heaven forbid, a list of bullet points outlining his complaints. Why? Because the purpose of his speech is to engage the brain and to motivate and move an audience, not necessarily to inform and instruct. Don't get me wrong, slide the best often used to transfer information, but if you want to engage and move an audience and get people to buy into your new future, then draw pictures in the minds of your listeners by using some of the skills we've covered here today, whether that'd be from King's speech, if then plans, or questions. I think if we do this more often, it's actually going to be really helpful in achieving our outcomes.

Peter:
Folks, I'm very mindful though, I'm getting to wrap up. I'll leave those key takeaways on the board. In terms of what we've covered today, we've essentially used and looked at a few communication tools such as questioning and if then statements in order to, I guess, shift people's perspectives, challenge attitudes and also encourage goal intended behaviour. Then we've just looked at a few powerful techniques that have been used by Martin Luther King in order to engage and move an audience. I'll hand back to Suzanne who might moderate the questions for me. Thank you.

Suzanne Johnson:
Thanks, Peter. Look, we've had a couple of questions coming, but feel free to pop in any queries that you've got in your chat boxes. One of the questions is probably in following on from that comment about Martin Luther King's speech and the imagery he uses mostly positive. I think it's something that I know we work talk a little bit around when you're using positive or negative language. A lot of safety language is, "Don't stop. Don't do this. Don't do that," versus should we be using more positive. Can you comment on what's maybe more effective or ...

Peter:
Great question to open. The first thing I want to say, I don't think it's about good, bad, right, wrong, positive or negative per se. I think it gets a little bit more complex than that. I totally agree with the sentiment that a lot of safety often talks about golden rules and non-negotiables and the signage and symbols we use within organizations often starts to reinforce that we can't do something or we shouldn't do this. On the flip side, I guess, I take, personally, a bit more of a safety differently approach where some listeners might be familiar with. What I mean by that is, looking at things such as positive deviance where people are looking at the variances between work as imagined and work as done. In order to understand the nuances there, we need to, I guess, look at positive questioning and communication, which is underpinned by things like trust and humility.

Peter:
I think the other technique, which I'm a big advocate of particularly as a psychologist as well as a safety professional is that idea of appreciative inquiry. Fundamentally, that model is based on the assumption that we take more of a strength based approach. Rather than asking questions such as, "What are the problems? What's wrong? What needs to be fixed?" Appreciative inquiry focuses on what works, what's at the positive core, and what people really care about. Again, that more strength based approach. I think if we look at that from a language perspective, that much more energizes people.

Suzanne Johnson:
I've got another question that's coming, Peter. How can you apply these techniques to written situations? I guess you've been talking about the verbal communication. Is there any changes there?

Peter:
Yeah. The question is the same with written situations such as emails. How much communication is done via email these days? It's a fair whack of it if I reflect on my personal experiences. Again, there's no limit to, I guess, the questions we can pose in an email, how we choose to structure an email in terms of chunking information down into bite size pieces. We know that the conscious brain has significant limitations when it comes to working memory. I know many times, we get a really long email. It's almost like a spaghetti principle, which is hoping something sticks and that the end user gets it. I think where possible keeping emails and written communication short and concise, chunking information down into key themes or bullet points.

Peter:
Again, in written communication, we can use things like repetition or metaphors or visuals to help support the words that we're using. We can also use questions at the end of the email to get the reader or end user to have a think about what this information means for them. There's lots of, I think, considerations for communication when it comes to the written form.

Suzanne Johnson:
Another one, Peter. We're slipping as many as we can while we've got you here. I guess, we had to seek and talk about culture maturity a bit last week. This one is really around. Has there been research and how much the language used within an organization tell us about the maturity of that organization, that safety maturity? Do you think there's any differences there? I don't know. You may want to park that one.

Peter:
No, that's okay. I'll jump in really briefly. Health and safety maturity and helping organizations diagnose and better understand their culture maturity and also helping them understand a future state and then addressing that depth is something I'm quite passionate about. I'll speak from an EY perspective. We have a particular health and safety maturity framework that we work towards and some of the key [inaudible 00:44:05] that we look at are things like the people and the engagement with the workforce. We look at leadership styles around, fairly enough, things like communication, reward and recognition, support the amount of consultation that's being happened. We also look at the organization's approach to things like risk and systems. I think, although it might not be explicit in our approach, definitely from a practitioner viewpoint, I'm always looking at the language that people are using.

Peter:
Apart from the visuals of first walking into an organization and having a look at the built environment in terms of how the work is structured and how the resources and workers design of supporting people, how people talk to one another and how people communicate to one another is very, very important. I probably don't have time to go into the research around things like communication and trust. We know that, I guess, how we demonstrate trust and alignment with our workforce is critical. There's bits of research that I'm familiar with which suggest that the relationship that we have with our direct leader at our work, the variance of our world being is attributed to about 50% of that relationship. For those of you who are leaders online, if you're willing to increase trust with your workforce, I think open transparent and also humble or being vulnerable in our communication is highly important from a culture perspective.

Suzanne Johnson:
One more question and then I'm going to wrap it up. I guess this one is really around some of those really long health beliefs and attitudes towards MSD prevention, the old chestnut of, we all grew up with, "Bend your knees, keep your back straight." Now, the evidence is there that that's not an effective control at all and anyone is spending time on technique training probably is wasting their money. How do we change those really embedded long health beliefs and some of the people that are out there and any amount of communication. Is it just really a repeat of what you did or ...

Peter:
To a degree. I think what makes it difficult is that, obviously, from an attitude and behavioural perspective, we've all got a different starting point. That might be based on experience or tenure within the organization or the amount of training or capabilities I have. What that often means for me within the organization is, we need to be almost thinking of the subgroups or subcultures within our organization and how we're tailoring our communication and knowledge transfer appropriately. Without going into psychological theories of change, we might have a whole range of people and what's called a pre-contemplation state where they're thinking, "Why do I need to change? What's in it for me? This is how I've always done it." The types of communication we need for those people is very different for a person who's in an attitude nor stage change of preparation or readiness. They've already got the motivation. They probably already answered the question of why and the communication then needs to be enabling them or occasionally, how can we put that motivation into action.

Peter:
You've also got other groups which are probably doing the right thing. Therefore, you need some communication around sustainable practices and monitoring of risk management and things like that. Unfortunately, I don't think it's a one size fits all approach when it comes to attitude or behavioural change, but I'm going to assume that's probably a topic for another webinar. Thank you.

Suzanne Johnson:
Thanks a lot, Peter. I know I'm in a conflative state at the moment, but look, with any other questions, we'll respond to those and pop on the website, but just thanks again for taking timeout of your busy schedule to present. We are very grateful. I'm sure everyone would agree that your presentation was insightful and we've all walked away with a couple of points to take home and work on. Thanks again for participating. Just a reminder to everyone to go on and register if you haven't already for the next couple in July. If you'd like to access more information on preventing and managing MSDs, here's the plug, go to the website. There's a lot of material there. Your feedback is always valuable. Please hang in there. There's a really short 30-second survey that's going to pop up. We'd love to get your feedback. Thank you.

Peter:
Folks, I'm just going to say, if you do want to get in touch, I did mention a number of bits of research or studies throughout the webinar. I'm more than happy for people to contact me for a variety of ways or connect with me via LinkedIn and that's also okay. Thank you so much.

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