Have you ever tried to change someone’s behaviour? I’m quite certain you have!
When you tried to get someone to do something different, how did it go? What did you say? What did you do? How did the person react?
I’m guessing it didn’t go so well. Firstly, the person probably didn’t change. Secondly, things probably got worse as the person became angry, silent, or defensive towards you.
You not only tried to assert yourself and persuade the person to your way of thinking, but you probably pushed them further away from where you want them to be.
It’s frustrating, isn’t it? The most common communication barrier people use in this situation is giving advice.
They try to send a solution to help the person. They think they’re doing the person a favor by giving advice, but all they’re really doing is making the person feel frustrated for having received the solution.
We hate receiving solutions from people because of four reasons:
1) We lose control. The other person takes the reigns in our life as they control what we should be doing. No one likes being controlled because it impedes on their freedom. It is a fundamental human need to be in control of one’s life.
Some psychologists actually say the more a person is in control of his or her life, the more happy he or she is. Powerful people lead others without controlling so they have freedom to make their own choices.
Give people control. Lead. Stop pulling people behind you. Begin leading by doing. You’ll be surprised at who follows.
2) Creates inferiority. A side-effect of having control over someone is the feelings of inferiority in the advised person. When we lose control of ourselves, we feel like a lesser person. We seek to feel important, but solutions and advice prevent people from fulfilling this important need.
3) The problem is not that obvious. Humans are complex creatures. Even our simple processes are complex. Giving solutions to someone sub-communicates that your solution to their problem is so obvious that they are stupid, incompetent, and inferior.
Aeschylus, an ancient Greek playwright in 500 BC, said: “It is an easy thing for one whose foot is on the outside of calamity to give advice and to rebuke the sufferer.”
When you are tempted to send a solution to someone, you must acknowledge to yourself that you don’t know the whole story. Even when you think you know the truth, you probably only know one side of the story. Why?
This leads us onto the fourth reason people hate receiving solutions from others.
4) People are oblivious to the truth. Human behaviour, and everything we experience, is like an iceberg.
An iceberg’s visible tip is 10% of the entire iceberg because the ice’s density is less than the sea water’s density. The remaining 90% of the iceberg is below the water’s surface, not visible to the common eye. How the 90% of the iceberg is shaped cannot be determined by looking at the iceberg’s tip.
We are icebergs. Everything we do is icebergs. This can be a double-edged sword.
On one side, most people never concern themselves with understanding the 90% of a person or story that remains hidden to nearly everyone. They prefer to focus on themselves, stick with what they know, and never seek to fully understand people.
On the other side is tremendous potential to connect with people in a way they’ve never connected with someone before.
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