Tag Archives: Change

Why we fail at making people change

Why we fail at making people change

People always seem to do or believe things that are destructive, inconsiderate, inefficient, ineffective, short-sighted, annoying, exasperating, etc., etc.

Those of us who know better (ahem),… would like them to stop.

But annoyingly, our efforts to cause change don’t work.

Why won’t they change dammit!

We make people wrong

Because we make people feel stupid,bad or unworthy for doing or believing as they do.

Neither the judged nor us, (the judges) make the very correct and appropriate distinction between the thing we’re trying to change and the people responsible.

Said another way: because you did something stupid, bad or silly, had a stupid idea etc., doesn’t mean that YOU are bad/silly/stupid etc.dog feeling bad

We get this intellectually but not emotionally.

In normal life, we take things personally and we process said stupid idea as if WE (not the idea) are stupid.

 We threaten their identity

We’ve come to associate our beliefs, practices, ideas and actions with our identity, our sense of self.

Not true of course; as we’re the ones merely having the beliefs, ideas etc. but since our education does not internalize this distinction most of us listen to any criticism of our ideas, beliefs etc., as a criticism (attack) on us as a person.

Consequently, our criticisms and attempts to change others’ traditional behaviours, practices or beliefs—like an unfair business practice or a personal prejudice—lands as a personal attack, and they defend, dig in and fortify positions.

and they don’t change.

We’ve all experienced this.

Hasn’t someone tried to get you to change your behaviour e.g. to stop being untidy/uncaring, drink less, eat less, do chores, do something with your life, and you feel like you—your identity, ego, your very self—are being attacked?

We’ve all felt unworthy, or like we’re bad people at those times, and we didn’t change because for us, making the change was a tacit agreement that what we were doing was wrong, which meant that WE were wrong.   (And we know how we feel about admitting that we were wrong.)

This is why it’s almost impossible to get ideological fundamentalists to change. They’ve held their unexamined positions for so long that they cannot separate themselves from their beliefs.  They see attempts to change their beliefs as an existential threat worthy of fighting to the death.

First make this one change yourself

So if you are sincere about wanting people to change, you must first make sure you are not making them (the people you want to change) feel stupid, bad or wrong.  This article called “One very useful tip for saving relationships” might help.

Knowing is not enough

In the last few weeks of Oprah’s show, I heard her say several times, “When you know better, you do better.” Catchy, makes sense, yet I couldn’t help thinking, “So what’s my problem?  “Why do I keep eating these cheese balls, and watching stupid movies I’ve seen before?  Why do I find myself doing thingsContinue Reading

“Can’t you see I’m eating?”

Here’s a reportedly true story that both asserts the state of the work ethic in Trinidad and demonstrates the deft use of a sense of humor in a maddening situation. A woman – let’s call her Rachel – went into a public service office on her lunch hour to take care of a pressing matter.Continue Reading

3 Noteworthy Developments to the Practice of Your Career

Here are three noteworthy developments that are relevant to your practice of career and/or your practice for adapting to/anticipating change. Game Crush What it is Online Video Game meets Online Dating meets Porn GamesBeat reported on a new online service called GameCrush that offers young hard-core video-game-playing males, the opportunity to indulge their addiction withoutContinue Reading

Re-learning to type – the DVORAK Typing System

Let’s see … what could I do to make it even more difficult to get things done.  Oh, I know.  I could work with one hand tied behind my back, or I could switch over to the Dvorak system.   In case you hadn’t heard, the QWERTY system was designed to slow down typing speedsContinue Reading

What we can learn from Bing vs. Google

I was reading an article recently about Bing vs. Google Search by David Pogue where he gives a very clear summary of how Bing is better.  Bing by the way is Microsoft’s answer to Google search which has become the closest connection most of us have to God. You can get an answer, or ratherContinue Reading

News at the speed of light

“My dad didn’t wake up this morning. I’m sure you’ll all hear about it. It hasn’t yet hit me but it’s about to.” This was a tweet from Billy Mays’ Jr. breaking the news of the death of his father, legendary pitch man Billy Mays on Sunday June 28th 2009. Just to get a senseContinue Reading

Move over email and Twitter, Google Wave is coming

Recently, I was reading “Why Twitter Will Soon Become Obsolete” by Jason Clark .  Very well written and insightful piece that was another reminder of how rapidly change is coming at us. Jason makes the case that while micro-blogging – the 140 character limit of posts (tweets) that Twitter pioneered – is here to stay,Continue Reading