Beginning to See your Way Out of the Box

boxed inIn my last two 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 that you have found yourself in.  The first one 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.

And, the second psychological truth is:

“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. This seems to be easier for us than it is for us to objectively reconsider our assessments of people. None of us can escape this truth. However, in order to be more effective we must be more aware it’s existence and how it affects us and others around us.

These are just a couple of reasons that it’s so hard to get out of the box that we find ourselves in, whether we are their because of misperceptions, rumors, or our own mistakes and failures.

The next psychological truth is a little more challenging to understand as it relates to getting out of the box. And like all these truths, it too has many more applications than simply helping you find your way out of the box.   This truth states:

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

We are probably more familiar with this truth on other levels than that of changing people’s perception of us. We have all be in situations where we presented a new, and what we thought to be, brilliant idea to a group, only to have one or more of them shut it down with negative responses about how it won’t work. Even if the idea truly is brilliant and could be highly effective, there is no way it can make sense to the receivers of novel or “new” information. That’s because they have no paradigm or “paradigmatic hooks” on which to hang this new idea. It simply does not seem to resonate with what they already know, their current way of thinking about the situation, or with what they have already bought into or attached themselves to.

The good news is that those who hear the new information or ideas do not necessarily dismiss them altogether. The information tends to stay floating around in the whirlwind of the mind from which we make sense of information. Frequently as the information floats around, it eventually lands on paradigmatic hooks that finally allow them to make sense of it. However, when they do make sense of it, to them, it doesn’t resemble what they heard from you. That’s why, six months after you presented an idea that got shot down, someone else presents a strikingly similar idea as if it were his or her own. When you tell them that this is the same thing that you presented earlier that got shot down, they may actually swear that its not.

So you ask, how does this relate to helping me get out of the box? You have to accept the truth that new behaviors, just like novel information is difficult for the receiver to incorporate. To see you in a different light requires a paradigm shift, or shift in their thinking and in belief system. And as we all know, such a shift or change is hard. In fact we are masters at resisting these changes on so many levels. That’s why there is an entire disciplined dedicated to “change management.”  Now your probably beginning to see the value of engaging an Executive Coach to guide you along this journey.

Now that you’re beginning to see that there is a way out of the box, there is one more psychological truth that is critical to helping you find your way. It is the one truth that allows us to tie all these together and begin the work of digging ourselves out of the box or hole that we are in. We will cover that truth in our next post.


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