‘‘If you change the belief first, changing the action is easier’’
I lived 20 years with a specific belief, and it took me one day to change it. This day was during a training that I was attending, where the instructor asked us- as attendees- to split in order to form 4 groups, each group contains 4 people, and that we should form a square where the 4 angles of this square are the 4 groups.
After this, he chose one of the attendees and asked him to sit on a chair in the middle of the square and not to speak to anyone at all. Then he asked each of the four groups to act as if they were four different departments in a company, and to treat this person- who is now sitting in the middle of the square- as if he is a new hire which is having a very great resume and experience, and to try to convince him to join their departments. The only condition was that the 4 groups are able to talk to that person, but in return, he cannot answer back to them. He can only listen.
Moreover, in order to increase the suspense of this exercise, if this person in the middle of the square was influenced by the words of a specific group to join their ‘’Department’’, then he should move silently with his chair towards this group. And the more distance that he moves with his chair towards a specific group, the more that he shows the intensity of the influence of the words of this group on him.
So we started, and in order to regulate the exercise and manage time effectively, we decided that each group should choose one person to represent them, and to speak on their behalf to the person sitting in the middle of the square. And from our group, this person was me.
So I started preparing some points and structure on a piece of paper, then I looked at him in very motivated shiny eyes and I started telling him in a confident manner: ‘’ with us you will achieve greatness. We will work together as one team and you will face a lot of challenges. And if your performance is great, you will get recognized and you can climb the career ladder fast. On the other hand, I am sure that we can find a financial compensation for you which makes you feel happy’’. This was just a small part of what I told him.
However, after I finished, I was expecting that he will ‘’jump’’ directly with his chair into our group after this motivational speech.
But I was wrong!!
I found him slightly moving towards us with his chair to the extent that I barely saw his chair moving. And even though it was just an exercise, but I was really disappointed. After our group, the other groups also tried the same scenario with him, but in the end, he did not move with his chair towards any group.
After we finished the exercise and the instructor asked him to speak to tell us what motivates him, we discovered that it was totally another factor which no group mentioned to him. He didn’t care about climbing the career ladder or earning extra money to buy a house or something. He just cared to earn what is enough to cover his family expenses and to have a stable life. He was looking for an optimum work-life balance.
This day I learned two important lessons in my life which changed the way I see things forever. And I was really happy that I learned these lessons in an exercise and not in a real life situation which can cause me to learn the ‘’hard way’’.
The first lesson that I learned was that we –as human beings- are different. We come from different backgrounds, cultures, and environments, and we passed through different life experiences, and this affects the way we see things and the way we form our beliefs. As a result of this, our targets are maybe different from each other as well as our motives. So if I really want to convince someone or influence him, I should not pre-assume or expect that what influences me ‘’should’’ influence him because maybe I do not see the things the way he sees it.
And how can I try to reach a middle point by seeing the things the way he sees it? This is the second lesson that I learned which is ‘’Communication’’.
I learned that I have to communicate with this person first and let him open up to me in order to understand how he thinks, what drives him and his life’s purpose. Only then, I am able to see things through his own eyes, then I can simplify my message in order to be accepted by him.
Without communication, it’s exactly as if you speak Chinese and expecting the other person to understand you while the other person understands only English.
So the next time I will be involved in a similar exercise or even a real life situation, I will first find a way to communicate with the person in front of me in order to know more about him, then I will say what I want to say in a way that he can understand and fits his blueprint in life. And that was exactly the purpose of this exercise in the training. To understand this simple message.
Author Misty Lynn Walker summarized it one time by saying: ‘’A lack of Communication breeds assumptions of what the other is thinking or feeling; and assumptions are, more often than not, incorrect.’’