Use nouns rather than verbs to get people to change behavior

Discussion created by perduejm on Dec 18, 2015
Latest reply on Dec 18, 2015 by islin.munisteri

Using verbs to get people to do things makes you sound bossy, like you are telling them what to do.

Example: Don't drink and drive.


People tend to rebel or look for loopholes when they hear commands like that, human nature being what it is.


On the other hand, look at what my company, Occidental Petroleum, has as our core principles:

"Integrity, Investment, Innovation"


Those are nouns, and when they are set before people as goals, people strive to achieve these things, doing whatever it takes.


So using nouns may be more effective than giving commands (verbs) in getting people to change their behavior.


Here is what behavioral psychologist Susan Weinschenk, who wrote the book How to Get People to Do Stuff, says on the subject:


"People need to belong.... If you use nouns when making a request, rather than verbs - for example: 'Be a donor' versus 'Donate now' - it results in more people taking action. That's because nouns invoke group identity."


So try this and see if it works, and I will do the same.