Let’s return to our initial question:
Why is it so difficult to change our behaviour for the better and for the long term?
We know our strengths, we know our weaknesses; we even know how we could ameliorate our weaknesses, because we are intelligent.
If, after an inspiring and informative communication seminar, the challenge consists of finally being a better listener and still there is no success — why is that?
You may now think it is related to the 70:20:10-PRINCIPLE, which claims that only 10% of personal and professional development arises through theoretical knowledge acquisition and training (e.g. in seminars); 20% arises through interaction with others (e.g. coaching on the job) and 70% through (work) experience.
For this reason, a two-day workshop is quite simply not long enough to significantly change behaviour. There is some truth to this.
You could also think that it is linked to DISCIPLINE or everyday STRESS or simply to the fact that
“most people talk so much rubbish that it isn’t worth listening to everything.”
Heard it all a thousand times before. All these statements may be right — but they are not particularly helpful in themselves.
For ease of understanding, let’s take discipline as a possible reason for me not changing my behaviour — so not listening more attentively when others are speaking.
Of course it is difficult to master the daily discipline to act differently, even if you consider everything you heard, read and learned as correct and if you practiced it consistently in the workshop. That seems quite understandable.
Understandable — but short-sighted. We all know there is no
the one cause (the one “why not?”) that explains everything.
So when we say DISCIPLINE, many deeper factors are hiding behind this term. We can describe these as
You can picture it as a hierarchy (like an organogram).
- At the top is says ‘Better listening’.
- Underneath, the word: ‘discipline.’
- Under that (each linked to ‘discipline’ with an arrow) are further terms, which describe why I do not summon up enough discipline to change my behaviour for the long term.
- These could be: (lacking) decisiveness, (lacking) conviction or (lacking) motivation. These elements are thereby the multiple causes for my lack of discipline.
Great. So what? (The second most important question in the world.) Are we now cured? Of course not. Each of these three examples of multiple causes has a series of further causes, which we can refer to as a
So, for example, why do I have too little decisiveness, to practice discipline, to practice better listening?
DECISIVENESS (or drive) means that I decide on a path and have a firm resolution to go down this path, come what may.
Although this ‘come what may’ sounds very self-assured, it actually causes mental agony and insecurity,
“because if I go down this new path, I risk failure, and I simply cannot afford this in important discussions with employees or clients”.
“I would have to accept many failed attempts until I am sure in my new handling. But I don’t have that kind of time. Moreover, I have to give up familiar patterns of behaviour — but from my perspective these have worked very well in the past.”
Do you hear this inner voice? It is loud. It is practically screaming and is skilled at looking for excuses, justifications and self-delusion. And then comes the killer statement:
“I’m not even sure if I should change my way of communication at all, or if I even want to. Really, everything is fine as it is. I’m a good communicator.”
Congratulations. Complacency at its best.
These are precisely the hardened, familiar patterns of thought. This inner voice means that my
WILLPOWER vanishes. But strength of will is the basis for
DECISION-MAKING. In turn, this is the basis for
DECISIVENESS (drive) and this is the prerequisite for
DISCIPLINE followed by
THOUGHTS & SPEECH, which ultimately result in
CONSCIOUS ACTION (= act = change in behaviour = better listening).
VOILÀ. A causal chain with many links.
Is a lack of willpower the root of all evil? Sadly no. We are not yet at the end of our causal hierarchy.
The next question is, as always: “Why not?” —
“Why do I not have enough willpower, to develop better decision-making, to then demonstrate decisiveness to practice discipline, and ultimately change my behaviour (better listening)?”
This question brings us to the next level down. We can refer to it as the
Which strong emotions hinder me in developing willpower?
STUBBORNNESS would be such a strong negative emotion. Also, PRIDE could be the main emotion.
But what feeds these emotions?
- Our blindness.
- Our mental blindness.
- Our apathy.
- Our fogged up mind. In a word:
(Careful! You have already mentally dismissed this term: “Negative“ – „Me and delusion?”)
Delusion describes the susceptibility of people to deception and self-deception. It describes the longing for superiority. The wish to be above others, arising from the fear of losing control.
Delusion is closely connected to our HYBRIS.
And it is our Hybris that makes us blind and prevents us from LISTENING.
We Are Blind and Don’t Even Realize