Question 12 of 365: Which words cause us to act?

Action is a relative term.

Is action the clicking of a button on a webpage? Is action the filling out of a form? Is action telling a friend or coworker about an idea? Is action standing outside holding up a sign, or waiting in a line? Or is action simply taking an interest where apathy and doing nothing is the alternative.

There is a science to persuasion, to getting others to do what it is that you would like. We see this every day in the decisions we make to advertise for ourselves, for our ideas, and for our products. Whether we like to admit it or not, each blogger or YouTuber or teacher or entrepreneur is trying to convince anyone who will listen to pay attention for one minute more. We are trying to convince someone to care about what it is that we are saying. We are trying to get someone else to act engaged or act like they want what we have to offer, whether they really do or not.

So, if that is what I am doing, which words are the ones that cause that action as much of the time as possible? People are turned off by simple commands. Look here or Click this have their place, but it isn’t a substitute for actual engagement. At the end of the day, I want actions that are authentic. I want people to want to build something with me.

I guess the words must be authentic too.

If I am asking for others to respond with genuine interest, I had better be genuinely interested in the problems that they are having. I had better find a way to express the feelings that they would express themselves if they had only typed the blog post with their own fingers. And, I guess I better have a solution too. The solution is what will cause someone really to turn from a passive viewer to an active participant. I must solve the thing that has been eating away at someone for too long. I must resolve the issue that has plagued someone, create peace within a tortured experience.

So, I will. I will put the solution into words. I will make the pitch that allows someone else to take part. And, I hope to do this without telling lies or trying to be something that I am not. I hope to do this without selling out or selling air. I hope to solve problems by starting with my own.

I guess other people might have the same problems too.

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  1. My G11 kids are working on solutions now. Before they move on to their action or solution, I'm having them outline the problem. When I was putting the sheet together, I originally had one box marked “Causes.” It didn't sit right with me. Causes of problems are more complex. The finished sheet has two boxes, “Visible Causes” and “Hidden Causes.” I want them to realize the need to see what most people can't. I think this affects our willingness to take action.
    In the spring and summer Greenpeace gets going gangbusters around Rittenhouse Square in downtown Philly. I can't walk from one corner to another without being asked to sign a petition on climate change or endangered species. Other NGOs are out in force as well. I am the source of much chagrin for them. I ask whether I can sign their petitions online after I've had a chance to research the issue on my own.
    As you point out, I'm complex. We all are. For me to take action, an issue must cause me to act for the visible and hidden reasons that trip the switches in my brain.
    I tell my students they are the first generation to be advertised to directly since before they were born. As such, they're going to need the most finely tuned sense of BS of any generation before them. It's also exactly why we should be asking them the questions of what will make people act.

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