Speaker Event - Vijay Padaki

“We are all in the Change Business,” says Rtn. Vijay Padaki.

President Rtn. Vivek Prabhu looked cool, calm and collected when he announced that the guest speaker of the day, Mr. M N Sreehari was stuck in an emergency and could not make it !!

Then he gave us the good news. Rtn. Vijay Padaki had consented to give a talk on Public Image Building. Rtn. Vincent introduced Rtn. Vijay, saying that RCB had known him as a great Theatre personality but today, RCB was lucky to witness the other side of the thespian. With four decades of experience in Behavioural Science and Organizational Development  Rtn. Vijay was a part of the founding faculty at IIM Bangalore; and was an accomplished author with 4 books published and a 5th on the way.

Rtn. Vijay started his talk by stating that creating a Public Image is all about bringing about change in the Thinking and Behaviour. He used simple English to explain the science behind bringing about Attitude and Behaviour Change. A Human being is an animal  constantly trying to influence and change the behaviour of other animals. As he succinctly put it, “We are all in the Change Business. Most of the time, we do it intuitively. Most Human communication, Advertising, Sales, Politics, Social Organization, Religion, deal with influencing change in behaviour.“

The need to  change behaviour was felt 50,000 years ago, when humans started living and hunting in groups. The advantages of hunting in groups were many. But this new way demanded that one had to accept that people had different abilities, and hence there was a distribution of Roles and Responsibilities. Mankind was forced to discover Co-Operation, and hence became less aggressive. Thus, the need to influence or change behaviour through co-operation and communication developed

Rtn. Vijay asked us to fast forward to the modern day living in cities. Now the need to change behaviour is applied to many more situations, and in the last 100 years, there has been much scientific study on how to bring about change in behaviour. Put in simple terms, a human being’s personality is made up of three components…Thinking, Feeling (Emotions), and Behaviour. Change in Thinking influences Change in Behaviour, but is affected or filtered by Emotions. Change in Behaviour can also bring about change in Thinking (again, filtered by Emotions).

More than 80 percent of the tools and techniques adapted by people to change behaviour in others are through changing the thinking of the person. That is to say, we give information to a person and try to change the way a person thinks or feels about something, leading to change in behaviour. This approach is most used since it is easier.

Very few try to do it the other way round. That is, to make the person do something or behave in a certain way, leading to change in the thinking, which reinforces the desired behaviour. This approach is difficult, but more effective and has long lasting impact.

The most dramatic example of this was in the 1950’s. When US prisoners of  war returned home from the Korean war, they were found to have been deeply indoctrinated in the communist philosophy. Upon further investigation, the Americans researchers were shocked that this indoctrination was achieved through innocuous and fun games and activities that the prisoners were made to do during their time spent in the prison camp!!

Upon request from the president, Rtn. Padaki narrated another example of changing attitude or thinking through making people do some activity. This was his personal experience in the Maharashtra – Andhra border, during a training workshop. He noticed that after the workshop all participants were going to attend a religious bhajan programme organised by a visiting Godman in the village. So, he divided the participants into 2 groups, requested one group to participate fully in the bhajan programme and other activities. The second group was requested to just observe but not participate in the activities like bhajan and any other games. Next morning, it was noticed that the majority opinion in the second group was that the Godman was a fraud, while most people in the first group who did the singing and activities, tended to believe in the Godman’s doctrine.

Rtn. Padaki concluded his talk here, stating that the most effective way to influence people is through making them DO things and participate in activities which reinforce the desired behaviour, rather than telling them. He urged that we spend time and explore on how to use this technique in Rotary Image Building.  

We thank Rtn. Vijay Padaki for making us enlightened on the wonderful subject in such a simple and succinct manner. We greatly appreciate the fact that despite being an unplanned, unprepared, unrehearsed talk, Rtn. Vijay managed to captivate, entertain and educate the audience.

Rtn. Sanjay Asher

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