Changing Behavior through Switching Beliefs

One Coin, Two Sides

A change in someone’s beliefs can lead to a change in his behavior. In order to influence and change the behavior of participants you should attempt to influence and change their beliefs. Beliefs and behavior are two sides of the same coin. If behavior of a person does not mirror a belief he claims to be holding then he is not truly holding such belief he is claiming to be holding.

The 3 Elements

Behavior or attitude is one of the 3 main elements a trainer attempts to make positive change in besides skills and knowledge of trainees. In fact, changing behavior is the most difficult of the three and has the strongest and most lasting effect. But how can the trainer influence trainees so as to change their behavior? Here I will show you a powerful method for changing participant beliefs and thus in effect changing their behavior.

Logic

Some may think that providing logical explanations and guiding trainees to logical deductions and conclusions can be the right way to influence and change their beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Such method may indeed silence participants and prevent them from arguing yet it will not shake off the original belief they are holding to.

Storytelling

A much more effective method and a really powerful one is to provide real stories of actual cases that attest to the validity of the belief you want trainees to be holding.

The strongest type of story would be one that you have gone through yourself and in which you have gone through the journey of holding the wrong belief followed by going through a personal experience that made you lay down such wrong belief and hold a new one. This is the most powerful type of story that creates instant belief switching in the minds and hearts of participants.

If you do not have a personal story of such a belief change you may narrate the story of someone else who had such a belief change after going through some personal experience. If still such a change-of-belief story is not available then you can narrate a true story the events of which attest to the validity of the new belief you want participants to be holding.

Quitting Smoking

Let’s take an example to make this method clearer. Let us say there is a group of participants who are carrying out the harmful behavior of smoking. Let us assume that their subconscious minds are holding twisted beliefs that smoking might not be very harmful due to seeing many people around them who smoke yet are not greatly suffering health wise. If the trainer attempts to give hard facts about how smoking has been scientifically proven to harm the body, such numbers and logical explanations may still not effect change in the behavior of participants.

If rather than that a trainer narrates his own true story in which he had been a smoker not really believing so much in the harmful effect of smoking then going through a difficult experience of sharply deteriorated health resulting in a change in his beliefs about smoking consequently resulting in a change in his behavior then such a story can be a real influencer and would probably have a strong and powerful effect on participants making many of them change their beliefs about smoking and probably changing their behavior as well in the form of attempting to cut down on smoking or quit smoking altogether.

Conclusion

So, next time you are trying to convince someone with something do not try and argue using hard facts but use a true story to get your point through. This could lead to a change in his beliefs leading to a change in his behavior.

How else can you influence the behavior of a smoker to help him quit smoking?

Story of my Learning Systems Analysis

Child doing Computer Programming

I started to do computer programming since the time I was a child at primary school. By the time I attended university I had been programming for years and wanted to advance to the next level. I had heard about systems analysis and reckoned that it would be the next step to take. At that time I had a totally wrong idea about what systems analysis really was. Maybe I thought it was the way by which one can know how to write complex programming code.

Systems Analysis Book

Anyway, my eagerness to learn systems analysis, despite my wrong idea about what it really was, made me buy a big fat book of around 800 pages about systems analysis. The book was titled Systems Analysis and Design. I set on a long journey of reading in that meaty book bit by bit. To my astonishment, I was introduced to a whole new world that I had earlier not known anything about. I was surprised to know that systems analysis was all about information systems and how to build them in a structured way. I enjoyed reading the book and learned a great deal from it.

Teaching Systems Analysis

Years later I was teaching Systems Analysis and Design at IBM Authorized Training Centers in Cairo yet it was object oriented analysis and design by then. Sure my earlier background with systems analysis and design helped me a lot with that.

Lessons Learnt

There are many lessons to be learnt from this story. One lesson is that one might set about going towards one direction based upon a certain perspective only to find that what he is going after is totally different from what he had thought it was yet still find it useful and interesting. New doors that the person had not been aware existed in the first place start to open up taking him to a whole new world he had known nothing about.

Another lesson is that reading and using books can be a very powerful means of learning. Still a further lesson learnt from this story is that skills you learn or knowledge you gain can turn out to be useful years later as you make use of them.

Follow your Passion

It is thus advisable to follow your passion and go to wherever it leads you for new unexpected worlds can open up for you and the skills you will gain, no matter what they are, may turn out to be handy one day.

What other lessons can you come up with from this story?

Switching Attitude 180 Degrees

Avid Explorer

I remember my aunt telling my mom about her son, that is my cousin, that one of his amazing characteristics is that he tries everything and never says no to trying something new. My aunt was saying this about my cousin in a very cheerful and energetic manner. My cousin at that time was perhaps around 14 years old. Upon hearing her words describing what she perceived as an innate characteristic of her son my mind instantly flashed back to a scene from the past when that very cousin of mine was perhaps only 3 or 4 years old.

Never Tries Twice

I remember him standing there in the balcony with his older brother with a deeply sad face due to finding himself unable to ride the skateboard successfully like his older brother. His older brother was trying repeatedly to convince him to give the skateboard another try and that through repeated trials he will eventually be able to use the skateboard successfully.

My younger cousin however was so stubborn and broke up crying while refusing completely to give the skateboard another try. That was the very cousin whom my aunt was praising years later and mentioning that he does not hesitate to try new things and she spoke as though it was some intrinsic characteristic he had!

Attitude Switching

As my mind flashed back to such a childhood scene while listening in great surprise to what my aunt was saying I had an aha moment. I realized that indeed people can and do change drastically in life and even switch completely from one extreme to its complete opposite.

This story really gives hope to those who think they can never change and that whatever characteristics they have are permanent.

Do you remember holding on to some belief in the past or having a certain attitude that you have now completely switched to its opposite?