Previously, we discussed how we all have habits and preferences, most of which we are not aware of. These habits and preferences unconsciously dictate our behavior throughout the day. In fact, the vast majority of the time this makes life easier. We don’t have to relearn the route to work every day. We become more efficient when our everyday habits become firmly entrenched. The other side of the coin appears when our habits and preferences go unexamined and interfere with our life.
In the first post in this series, there was a discussion of noticing other people’s habits and preferences and using that to cultivate and build a relationship. For example, we notice that someone prefers to sit in a certain chair whether it is at a business, cultural, religious or social event. We can put them at their ease by making sure they sit in their comfortable chair.
In the second post, we took notice of the power of disrupting other people’s habits and preferences. We can use this to disrupt someone’s routines and disruption to their thoughts and perspectives on the situation will follow. This can be very useful when negotiations are stuck and we are looking to spur the other side to look at a different viewpoint. It can also be useful in an adversarial situation where simply interrupting the other person’s habits and preferences can diffuse much of the adversarial energy.
We can also watch our own behavior. We can make sure that we sit in a different chair. We can use this knowledge as a means to disrupt and change our own perspectives and behavior. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work or home. Brush your teeth differently. If you usually start on the right side of your mouth, start on the left side instead. When you are in the shower, change the order in which you wash and clean the various parts of your body. Notice how you get dressed in the morning. Do you always put the right leg on first? Try putting the left leg on first.
These seemingly small changes have amazing power. They keep the brain in a mode where change is expected. It is like exercising any muscle. The more we exercise that muscle the stronger it becomes. Constantly building new neural pathways, even with something as simple as the way we brush her teeth, makes it much easier to adapt to change when it is forced upon us.
The emotional landscape is also highly relevant. We can notice any and all emotional triggers and physical reactions we experience when we sit in a different chair. Then we can explore those emotions and physical reactions and notice in greater detail their content when we are dealing with a situation that is not highly charged. We can find out how we react to change when it doesn’t really matter. When it does really matter we will be treading on familiar emotional territory and we will find that our ability to react and adapt to major change that is this thrust upon us is greatly enhanced. We will not be put off our game if someone sits in our chair and we are forced to sit in a different chair.
After all, it is often said that there is only one constant in life and that is change. Do yourself a favor and have some fun playing with changes in your life. Find out what it is like to build new neural pathways and find out something new about yourself along the way.