Influence to change actions not beliefs
People have the natural desire to want to change the beliefs of others to the belief of their group. We want to change others beliefs because we are social animals. An import part of being a social animal is identifying with a group and its culture. Culture refers to the values and beliefs which the members of the group share. It is programmed into human nature to want to protect the values and beliefs of the group and at the same time attempt to recruit more members to your group. By attempting to change the values of others, you are subconsciously attempting to recruit more members for your group. Everyone, including myself, forgets that the goal of influence is to change the person’s actions, not their beliefs. In this post, I will examine how to reframe points to fit the other person’s beliefs, that way you can change their actions but first we need to learn how human beings process information.
To understand framing and reframing arguments one needs to understand what Michael Gazzaniga, a pioneer of cognitive neuroscience, calls the Interpretor. The human brain is comprised of different parts, each part having a different function. The job of the interpreter is to take all of these inputs from the different part of our brains and to combine them into a narrative that makes sense. Neuroscientists have no discovered where this interpreter exists in the brain but they can prove its existence.
Everything you see with your eyes is an illusion. The way the optic nerve is connected to the eyeball creates a blind spot. Each eyeball transmits vision data with a big hole in the middle. The interpreter in the human brain fills in this hole. What you are looking at is an illusion. For the most part, the human brain does a good job interpreting reality but there are exceptions. Optical illusions are an example of where the interpreter malfunctions. With an optical illusion, the brain compares a central object against surrounding objects. It then frames it, in the case of the optical illusion, incorrectly. Everyone has seen a sentence like this one Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Here your interpreter is filling in the blanks. The interpreter takes input and then modifies it to fit your belief system, this occurs at the subconscious level. Where does the interpreter get the information to fill in or correct these blanks?
The brain comes prewired with defaults, as Steven Pinker shows in The Blank Slate, most people have an innate fear of snakes and spiders. Even infants have a fear of snakes and spiders which indicate it isn’t a learned behavior. What would be the evolutionary explanation for this? Most snakes and spiders are harmless but getting bitten by a poisonous snake or spider is a Black Swan event, meaning if you get bitten by a poisonous snake or spider, you will probably die. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense to error on the side of caution.
Then there are brain defaults which are from gender differences, Louann Brizendine the Neuropsychiatrist, provides an overview of them in her books The Female Brain and The Male Brain: A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think. With gender differences in thinking, there is a spectrum, lesbians, for example, have essential a male brain in a female body. Finally one has the beliefs created by our experiences, one of the big influences is culture. Most Hindus find the idea of eating beef repulsive, culture affects brain programming at an early age. Your beliefs can be changed by your experiences, the snake or spider fear can be overcome by being exposed to snakes.
You do not need to know how the brain’s interpreter works, just it is always there, always running. This post is about changing people’s actions as opposed to their beliefs, to do this we use re-framing.
Richard Bandler is a fat slob who is a self-confessed charlatan. As he says, the difference between me and other mental health professions, I tell you straight out I am a fraud. Despite all of this, he has a certain charm. It was through Bandler I first encountered re-framing.
I’ve always thought that John Rosen’s approach to psychosis was the most useful: enter the psychotic’s reality and then spoil it for him. There are a lot of ways you can do this, and some of them aren’t obvious. For instance, I had one guy who heard a voice coming out of electrical outlets, and the voice forced him to do things. I figured if I made his hallucinations real, he wouldn’t be schizophrenic anymore. So I hid a speaker in an outlet in my waiting room. When he came into the room, the outlet said “Hello.”. The guy turned around and looked at it and said,
“You don’t sound the same.”
“I’m a new voice. Did you think there was only one?”
Where did you come from?”
“Mind your own business.”
That got him going, Since he had to obey the voice, I used that new voice to give him the instructions he needed to chance what he was doing. Most people get a handle on reality and respond to it. When I get a handle on reality, I twist it! Using Your Brain–For a Change
Most people would argue with the psychotic whether or not electrical outlets can talk. The brain’s interpretor can usually find a way to rationalize why the person has these beliefs. The interpreter defends the person’s belief systems. If you would accept all new beliefs given to you, you would be open to manipulation. Michael Gazzaniga talk about how he was working with a patient who believed she was always in her house. When he was examining her, she was in his office. He then asked her, where are you? She replied I am at my house. Mr. Gazzaniga then opened his office door and showed the lady the row of elevators, he then asked, how can you this be your house? Houses do not contain rows of elevators. The lady replied it cost me a fortune to get all those elevators installed.
Instead of attempting to change the psychosis’s reality, Bandler instead enters the psychosis’s reality. In this reality, for some reason, electrical outlets can talk. The problem isn’t that the electrical outlets talk but that the voices coming out of the socket told the psychotic to do antisocial things. The psychotic believes he has to obey the voices from the electrical outlets. Bandler then reframes the problem by replacing the old voice in the electrical outlet with his own. He then tells the psychotic to stop doing antisocial things and how he can improve his life.
psychosis - a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
The story also shows that whether or not a behavior is classified as psychosis is largely cultural dependent. A person who claims to talk to a divine entity, depending on your religious beliefs, is viewed as someone who is special. A facebook post by a mental health professional stated that since Trump was elected she was terrified of being raped. She then stated her feelings were real and not to be questioned. In my opinion, it is improbable that her chances of rape have increased due to Trump getting elected. Therefore her emotional feelings appear to have lost contact with external reality. She argued that I am the one out of touch with reality. Somehow the election of Trump will cause millions of men to become rapists. Interestingly enough, the mental health professionals patients commented they had the same fears. This indicates that some forms of psychosis are socially acceptable other are not.
My post Myths - reflections of our cultural subconscious showed how cultural beliefs which are reflected in myths affect our subconscious. Even when a person no longer believes in these myths they subconsciously affect their decisions. An example of this is former Hindus who become atheists, despite their change in religious beliefs, they still find the idea of eating meat, especially beef repulsive. If your goal is to get the former Hindu to eat beef, it will be difficult to re-frame this action. Some actions, on the other hand, can be re-framed.
Two religion pushers visited my house, I am always interested in why people believe certain things, so I invited them in. I have a large dog, if a person is nervous around a dog, it upsets the dog. I then noticed on the religion pushers appeared nervous, so I asked her why is she nervous. She replied, she was scared of the dog. I then stated, when Daniel was thrown into the furnace his faith was being tested. Maybe my dog has been sent to test her faith. If her faith is as strong as she claims, she should not be afraid. She then laughed, appeared to calm down and my dog was no longer agitated.
People inherently frame things, often men and women think they want the same think when they actually don’t. In my post, What Men fail to understand, Men solve, Women affirm I showed men want to solve problems versus women want someone to affirm them. Men frame things that when there is a problem, they should offer a solution. Women frame problems that they want someone to affirm there is a problem. This causes all sorts of problems, most of the time, men should just shut up and listen. I, of course, do not follow my own advice, the woman then claims I lack sensitivity etc.
Time can be used to frame situations. The man asks a woman to dance in a club. The woman replies no, the man reframes with, I don’t want to marry you, I just want to have a dance with you. Here he has reframed his request from a lifetime to ten minutes. Usually, the woman would laugh and say lets dance. Similar methods can be used with online dating, a woman has a shopping list of all the qualities she desires in a man. She states she wants these qualities for a long term relationship. The man can reframe by asked her, what is the woman doing right now? She replies that she is waiting for Mr. Right. The man says while you are waiting for Mr. Right, why not have some fun with Mr. Wrong? What do you plan to do if Mr. Right never comes along? Here the man has changed the frame.
It is only by entering the other person’s frame or reality one can frame things correctly. My post, Understanding metaphor to understand frame and re-framing that all language is metaphor and simile. As in all words are comparing something to a fixed reference point. Here you need to verify that both of you are using the same reference point. The same word can mean different things to different people.
The purpose of this post was to show it is better to attempt to change the person’s actions as opposed to their beliefs. To do this, you need to know what the person’s beliefs are. You then need to re-frame your point so the action is within their beliefs. The difference between influence and fraud is the second uses deception to re-frame your points so they match the other person’s belief system. If your deception comes to light, it inevitably will have negative consequences.
How to do the reframe requires research and looking at things from different perspectives. The techniques discussed in my post Finding better solutions by thinking inside the box sometimes are helpful for reframing. Talking to the person, asking questions can help in finding out what their belief systems are.
Finally, do not attempt to change the person’s belief systems. It is our innate nature to attempt to do this but usually it accomplishes little.
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