As a coach and consultant, many people approach me wanting to become better communicators, and as we explore what’s going on, this often involves becoming better listeners.

The development goal

Let’s explore a person whose goal is to become a better listener. Let’s imagine that she’s a very proficient speaker and enjoys when people are listening to her, however until now, she has been unable to really listen to and be present with others. Recently through feedback, she is becoming more aware of this dynamic and is now concerned about how this inability to listen to others is limiting her relationships and keeping her from progressing at her job.

How she defeats her goal

We discover that when other people speak, she defeats her goal of being a good listener by engaging in behaviors such as checking her cell phone, making a mental grocery list, thinking about what happened yesterday, or even what needs to be done tomorrow. As hard as she tries, she continues unconsciously defeating her goal, and until now she has been unable to change this negative pattern and loop of self-defeating behavior.

Why she defeats herself

When we dig deeper, we learn that she has fears associated with this self-defeating behavior that keep her in this loop of feeling stuck. We learn that she is afraid that if she actually listens to others, she will discover that someone else might know more than she does. As we go deeper again, we learn that her hidden commitment is to always be the smartest person in the room—that way, she does not have to face her fear.

Breaking free

As we continue to explore her inner world, we also discover that she has a belief system that if her colleagues learn that she is not the smartest person in the room, they will lose respect for her or not want to follow her anymore. This is the belief system that needs to be tested, and is also the way to break free of this negative cycle.

Her desire to become a better listener is representative of how she has one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake—her fear of not being the smartest person in the room is the foot on the brake and that which keeps her from making progress toward her goal.

To recap the scenario:

  • Her goal is to become a better listener.
  • The thing that she is doing (the behavior that defeats her goal) is to tune out (in various ways) when others are speaking.
  • Her hidden resistance is avoiding the fear of losing the respect of her friends and colleagues. She is protecting her identity as a boss and expert at any cost!
  • Examining and testing her belief system become the way to break free of the self-defeating cycle.
  • By doing so, she learns that this belief is false and that people will still respect and listen to her, even if she does not always have all the answers.

This example provides a complete map of her psychological immune system and the roadmap to make long-lasting change.

Discover the map of your own psychological immune system

Does this sound like you?  Do you have another life change you are trying to make that you are struggling with?  Are you curious what you own map looks like?

Reach out to me if you have need support, or would like to learn how I work through this process with individuals and groups.

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