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The Pistachio Principle and the Art of Internal Communication Dieting

Is your internal communication clogging staff’s mailboxes? Do your stakeholders engage intently with their communication to reduce flab? Are your efforts in sharing ‘bite’ size chunks of information adding up?

If you have ever been tempted to share more information so that your team ‘gets’ all they need or of passing on content without including context you could be guilty of adding ‘communication calories’. You probably need to take pointers from the ‘Pistachio Principle’.

 Dr. James Painter, a behavioral eating expert coined this technique to eat ‘right’ and yet keep people from feeling deprived.  I believe these tips can work wonders when you extend it to your communication effort.

Moored boats

For starters, visual cues help people soak in how much they have eaten if pistachios are in-shell. In his study participants ate lesser and consumed lower calories when they left behind empty shells.

Allowing your leaders and users to engage with content and get a ‘line of sight’ or ‘trail of communication’ helps them appreciate what it means to stay ‘light’ with messages.

Allowing self-selection helped people choose intake and therefore reduce calories.

Internal communication isn’t a volume game. Also from usability studies we are aware that users scan for information and don’t read every line that is written, especially online.

Therefore the recommendation is to keep communication simple, provide multiple avenues for information sharing and allow employees the options for having ‘served’ to them.

Healthier choices may not always be equal to lesser calories according to Dr. Painter’s research especially when they weigh one food vs another (be it a sandwich vs a burger or oil vs butter).

Content which works for one audience may not be of relevance to another. Consider the outcome of your communication and tailor your messages to suit your audiences. As a leader and communicator you are expected to help your employees make the right choices.

Less is more when it comes to using bowls and glasses. People feel full while eating or drinking from smaller plates and tall, slender glasses.

Likewise, presenting information succinctly gives communicators and employees the impression that they can ‘manage’ what is expected from their roles. Well structured communication wins you the battle of the mind.

Picked a ‘family’ pack and regretted later? The study shows that buying single serve packets improves your chances of staying slim.

In this age of information overload there can be nothing more empowering for a team whose supervisor or leader who shares ‘bite’ size chunks for easy digestion. Break up your communication into relevant sections that simplifies intake and action.

Your environment has an important part to play in your consumption habits. Bright lights and fast music encourages you to eat more and faster. Also whom you accompany for meals makes a difference too!

Often employees are overwhelmed by many messages simultaneously reaching them. As a leader and communicator you are responsible for reducing ‘noise’, managing traffic and employees’ ability to assimilate information. Remove roadblocks that undermine your communication effort and engage in active listening to know what they expect.

Lastly, ‘lean’ communication hinges on your ability to reflect on what makes the most sense for your audiences. It is vital to share messages consistently and periodically to create a climate of stability and trust, essential for the success of any communication.

3 thoughts on “The Pistachio Principle and the Art of Internal Communication Dieting

  1. Hi! My name is Anita. Was introduced to your blog by my professor, Mr Ray Titus who writes a blog called
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts.
    I currently work as a qualitative market researcher with an agency in Bangalore and am considering a switch to Internal Communications.
    However with regards to ‘what this line of work entails’ and ‘what is required of somebody working in this division’, do see some disparity on some profiles on and your blogposts.
    Would be grateful if you could help me gain clarity, and answer some queries I had for you.
    Please let me know if you had be okay taking them. If yes, where could I address them? (on your blog/by email/on facebook/others..)
    Await your revert.
    Thanks & regards,

  2. Hi Anita,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    I am not surprised by your observation on the profile of people in Internal Communication and what is expected of them. From my experience most have this portfolio of work thrust upon them or are merely seeking a job to keep their careers going.

    My sense is that internal communication isn’t given as much attention since the function is ‘internal’ and therefore not ‘visible’ enough for those who take up the career.

    However research reports and thought leaders have highlighted the importance and relevance of this function in how organizations functions and are perceived by stakeholders.

    My recommendation is that you look up this post on Careers in Internal Commmunication I wrote recently. It might give you pointers.

    Keep in touch and let me know if you have any further questions.



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