Getting Out of the Box: Not for the Faint of Heart.

In previous posts you have become familiar with a couple of psychological truths that you must grasp if you hope to find your way out of the box in which you have found yourself.

The first of these four truths is:

“If you are in a box, you don’t get out until they let you out.”

Meaning, regardless of how you got there, or whether it is fair, you often find yourself in a box that only they can let you out of.

The second truth:

“People buy with their emotions and justify with facts.”

Meaning that it is either human nature or human laziness that lead us to look for facts or behaviors that confirm what we already hold to be true, or to which we are emotionally attached. It seems to be easier for us to keep people in the box we have them in than it is for us to objectively reconsider our assessments of them.

The third psychological truth:

“The receiver of novel information has no paradigmatic hooks to make sense of the new information (or behavior) they have just heard (or seen).”

Meaning that people are not accustomed to incorporating new ideas or behaviors that will change their assumptions, paradigms or belief systems.  Until they do so, they will not let you out of the box, regardless of how hard you work at it.

But thankfully there is a fourth psychological truth that is foundational to the strategy for getting out of the box. That truth states:

“People learn to believe what they hear themselves say.”

Those rumors, those evaluations, those conversations in the hallways, management meetings, or succession planning discussions . . . those are the things that keep you in the box. You cannot get out of the box until the conversation about you changes.  Because people do not believe what they cannot hear themselves say with confidence.

Those of you who are in business can accept this truth on a public relations level. Once again, there is an entire discipline, dedicated to one of this truth.  Companies spend billions of dollars each year ensuring that the conversations that people are sharing about them or their products are positive and accurate depictions, that will keep consumers engaged.  Think Apple! What’s the conversation about Apple and their products? It would take a lot to sway the public’s opinion of them.

I saw a humorous satirical cartoon that depicted PR at its worst:

Hillary Propped by Media

Now, in order to get out of the box, we are not talking about putting a political spin or cover up on our mistakes. But we are talking about changing the conversation so that it takes into account the new behaviors we are working on and trying to exhibit more consistently.

After covering these four psychological truths, you at least know what got you in the box, what keeps you there, and the challenges you face in developing a strategy to get out of the box.   Or maybe these truths are new to you and you can see how easy it is to be placed in a box, and now you are going to use everything at your disposal to keep from ever being put in a negative box that you don’t want to be in.

Like a true Executive Coach, I don’t want to leave you in the dark.  Our next post will outline some steps you can take to get out of the box you find yourself in. Or should I say, the steps you can take to increase the likelihood that they will let you out of the negative box, and at place you in a more positive one.

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