Effective communication can be one of our biggest challenges both in our professional and personal lives. Talking about climate change can be difficult and uncomfortable at times. Thankfully British communications specialist and writer George Marshall has a few tips on how we can effectively message Climate Change here in Alberta.
According to George Marshall, arguing or discussing the science (my source says this, your source says that) is counter productive. The discussion tends to get bogged down. It’s best to find something you both agree on, as in “the weather is definitely changing” and work from there. Show respect for the other persons beliefs but stick to your position on Climate Change and state why. Try to find shared values and identity as in, “we both care about future generations and the well-being of all Albertans”. Part of being a good communicator is being a good listener. Seek to understand the concerns of others.
Often our basic concerns are similar, jobs, the economy and family. It would be prudent to show appreciation for the people in the oil, gas and coal industries who have contributed to our prosperity and way of life. We are a resource economy. As we have seen all to often relying on one recourse leads to the boom and bust cycle. Highlighting the opportunities in transitioning to a lower carbon economy would create a positive outlook. One could mention the Iron and Earth initiative that aims to retrain oil workers to the renewable energy industry as many of the skills are transferable.
Alberta is uniquely positioned to be a leader nationally with abundant solar, wind and geothermal resources. We could be international leaders in renewable energy technology and could consult on how we transformed our economy. Again, focus your communication on a positive transition. State that there will be exciting changes and many new opportunities in the low carbon future. Albertans are hard working and entrepreneurial and will have a prosperous future if they embrace change.
One takeaway I got from reading George Marshall’s book “Don’t Even Think About it” (why our brains are hardwired to ignore Climate Change) was to try and talk to someone new about Climate Change every day. It can be a challenge at times but I have enjoyed the conversational experience. I believe it gets people thinking. We are not discussing Climate Change nearly enough. Never miss an opportunity to discuss Climate Change and our options going forward in Alberta.