Up until today, not playing shows has made me feel somewhat restricted from being an activist. This is because many of my songs have activist angles to them, and I believe people can potentially begin thinking about new things when they see/hear the songs.
But recently, I’ve had some micro-results in the mega-corporation office I work in — which has given me some solace. A guy I work with today told me he purchased his first organic produce — oranges. “It was tastier!” he exclaimed. I know his purchase took place in part thanks to my blabbering about the benefits of eating organic food. We discussed the topic a little more after he told me.
When I conveyed this phenomenon to an organic-eating friend of mine she said, “I try to tell people things like that, but they frown or want to discontinue the conversation.”
I replied with sympathy, since I used to receive the same responses as well (and still might), but I’ve been learning how to “work somebody up” to my heaviest thoughts over a period of time.
At work, I have had some other micro-successes, including having our shoes people consider buying non-leather shoes for our stores (we are a retail department store chain) after my mention of it.
Here’s how I suggest trying to micro-influence others positively in the workplace.
1. Don’t mention heavy-heavy things in a topic the first time a topic comes up. In my white-collar environment where people usually only talk about the weather, offering a strong set of beliefs to anybody usually gets received poorly.
2. Make stereotyping your advantage. I am quickly stereotyped when I give somebody even relatively harmless info on a touchy subject like meat eating. I don’t begin with, “Meat is bad!” or, “You know animals suffer needlessly everywhere, right?” Such strong statements upset people and shut them down. Instead, I approach people with something like, “I enjoy being vegetarian.” Such discourse is very non-chalant, very downplayed. I might even try to steer the conversation AWAY from the topic thereafter and return to the exciting topic of weather.
3. Give your co-worker heavier info (but friendly) at the next comfortable encounter. People will often without my encouragement ask me more about the topic I had opened. This is thanks to the “friendly” stereotype of me they created. And by empathizing with the person, I can determine just how little I should say, and ALWAYS favour saying less over more.
4. Give your deepest thoughts on a topic by the 3rd or 4th encounter. Only do this if it feels right. There may of course never be such an opportunity, and some people will reject your information no matter what. But more often, people by now have an open mind and do not reject the information. Things that are unusual can be intriguing to others, and your activist perspective is unusual, right? Put yourself in a curious person’s mind and approach them with this awareness in your own mind.
Convincing somebody to buy organic oranges for the first time may not be a big deal to some people, but I’m trying to feel good about succeeding small where I think it will help the planet.