I blurted out the above statement during a lightning talk recently at the Northern California Earthquake Hazards Workshop. I was presenting social science research conducted in Christchurch, New Zealand, during the Canterbury earthquake sequence, specifically regarding earthquake forecasts and their communication. My statement was met with bouts of laughter and a few claps. Reflecting back, I regret being so blunt with my colleagues, but here is what the social science research suggests: Likeability and relatability are key factors in whether people listen to you or not.

Relationships and relatability are essential parts of good communication; their importance tends to be...

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