Non-Compliance – Is it communication failure or people failure?

Three months into the new decade and the world’s focus continues to be on the pandemic and vaccination. In India also, the second wave of the virus and the vaccination drive remains a key focal point in all conversations, offline and online.

Governments and organisations and other establishments such as resident welfare associations continue to drill the need to wear the mask, maintain social distancing, and frequently wash hands. It is necessary, immaterial of whether one has been vaccinated or had tested positive earlier and recovered. Despite what we went through the whole of 2020, it is not easy for us to comply with these simple asks.

I have observed a few patterns of behaviour about why people behave the way they behave. These are neither comprehensive nor imply that everyone falls into one or the other behaviour slot.

I am ok. You are not ok.

This behaviour stems from the belief that one’s immunity level is good. One is healthy and fit as a fiddle. Their food habits and physical fitness regimen have carried them this far and will continue in the future. People around them may not be ok, but they are ok.

Not Invented Here (NIH) Syndrome

It is the behaviour where one does not agree to comply because an external party, be it the government or their organisation, is telling them.  The Dos and Don’ts are not laid out by them but by someone else. Hence it does not apply to them.

Past is Past

Some believe that the pandemic phase is over. It is not going to impact them. They may have either tested positive in the past or may have got vaccinated now. The second wave and rising instance of cases are not worrisome for these folks.

Rebel Without a Cause

These are people who reject the pandemic norms and does not want to comply. Also, they do not assign any reason for their non-compliance.

During my recent domestic travel, I noticed several passengers not complying with the respective state government’s regulation despite repeated and the airline communicating multiple times. The behaviour is the same, be it one is inside the aircraft or at the airport. I wonder why one is oblivion to the fact that they risk their own health and wellbeing by discarding safety measures. Besides, it leads to wasting time at airports filling up forms and procuring permissions.

Despite communicating every step of the way that the only way to ensure we remain safe is by wearing the mask, washing hands, and maintaining social distance; if people do not comply, is it communication failure or people’s failure? I would say it is the latter. Because, as the saying goes, you can take the horse to the water. You cannot make it drink. Communication can increase awareness, heighten the caution, and warn about the consequence of non-compliance. This communication is done in several ways, such as hard-hitting, laced with humour, using sarcasm and so on. Ultimately people need to act. It is in their interest first and in the interest of their near and dear ones.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Radha Radhakrishnan
Radha Radhakrishnan has over 25 years of experience in corporate communications and marketing across different industries and geographies. She has built a reputation as a storyteller and a creative thinker. She has mentored social entrepreneurial startups and has been a visiting faculty at premier communications institutes in India. She is currently the global head of corporate communications at Wipro Enterprises. She anchors the weekly PR and Communication podcast, Mrigashira.

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