It’s just not helping anyone

I was doing my regular Twitter trawl this morning for the latest thinking on behaviour change and I came upon an initiative in the UK called the The Change Project. It’s a program designed to reduce domestic violence by encouraging men and women to reflect on and then, through support, change their abusive behaviour.

The video they created for the program is well worth a watch, especially at this time of the year when it’s well known rates of domestic violence increase.

So far, so good. Then I went on to their website, and my heart sunk. This is the first thing I read:

The Drive Project (service provider for The Change Project) is a community-based intervention for perpetrators (service users) of domestic abuse whose victims are assessed as at a high risk of significant harm or fatality, aged 16 years and over. The service will offer a risk and needs led response that proactively works with this potentially involuntary client group in a multimodal way; striving for behavioural and attitudinal change. 

What the…? I’ve never read such a load of BS to describe a really worthwhile and potentially hugely impactful program in my life.

Take this sentence for example; “The service will offer a risk and needs led response that proactively works with this potentially involuntary client group in a multimodal way…”. I consider myself a fairly intelligent man. I have done a Masters thesis in behaviour change, and worked in the field for the last 21 years, and I have absolutely no idea what that means.

How does writing like this help anyone?  I struggle to see any value in using obtuse, complex writing that’s full of terms that people struggle to comprehend. It reduces understanding, lessens impact and it doesn’t help anyone. Potential users of the service, victims of domestic abuse, people working in the program, other parts of government. Not anyone.

All of us that work in the field of changing behaviour, whatever form that takes, owe it to people we are supporting to change, our clients, and ourselves to stop writing badly like this. It doesn’t help anyone.

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