If you wish to follow someone around who knows the right answers about behavior change but continues to do it all the wrong ways, come to Carson City, Nevada, and spend a day with me.
Things research has taught me: I know human beings don’t respond well to being told what to do. There’s this natural tendency to believe what we are telling ourselves more than what others are telling us. So if I start loading folks up with the “great ideas” I have for them, they will naturally think about all the disadvantages of taking my advice and begin reinforcing their own beliefs and behaviors. The stronger I voice my opinion, the greater they will be at defending their position.
Intellectually, I know a better starting point is to ask them about their thoughts on the subject, give them confidence I understand by reframing their opinions and inquire about other ways they may choose to handle future scenarios. The greater my openness is to their status quo, the greater the possibility they will consider alternatives.
In the real world, I’m terrible at such things.
For starters, I always think I’m right. My “know-it-all self-talk” is like an annoying GPS navigator demanding that drivers go precisely where my recalculations tell them to. I’m so anxious to inform and influence my targeted benefactors and so engrossed in preparing my salient message that I forget to listen. I interrupt. My body language isn’t so hot either.
What makes it more personally crippling is I recognize early in “my communication” exactly what I’m doing and how silly and ineffective I am behaving. A piece of me still wants to ram my self-serving message down their throats, while another piece wants to slink away embarrassed.
It’s not a pretty scene.
I need your help. Come out to Carson City and be my communications mentor. If you conclude I’m a lost cause, beautiful Lake Tahoe is right up the mountainside. You’ll find it without any recalculations from me.