Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Message from a Teacher

It has been awhile since I have posted to this blog.  Frankly I haven't had much that I felt that I wanted to share with the big wide world. But I felt the urge to write about something that I used to do when teaching.  

In starting the topic of selection (selection of employees to be specific), I would start by asking for a volunteer in the class to talk with me... and that I promised not to embarrass them.  Once I got the volunteer (I'll call her Jane), I would begin.

Me:  "Jane, I'd like for you to think of someone that you consider a friend and that you know fairly well.  I'd like for you to pick someone that you are pretty confident that you will see tomorrow. Don't tell us their name, just keep them in your mind."

Jane:  Thinks for a moment, and then says "I've got someone." 

Me:  "Please describe them to us if you would.  What are they like when you see them?  How do they behave?"


Jane:  "He comes in every day with a smile on his face.  He sometimes even whistles.  He gets a cup of coffee and says 'Hi' to everyone and then goes to his cubicle.  He will usually talk with a few of us about the news of the day."  

Me:  "Great job, Jane.  You've painted a picture of him for us.  Now I'd like to paint another picture.  Imagine that tomorrow when you see him, he brushes past you and the others.  He goes directly to his cubicle with no comment to anyone and even ignores someone when they say 'Hello'.  What is your first thought?

Jane:  "I'd say that something is wrong.  Something has happened to him.  Maybe he had a car accident on the way to work.  Maybe his wife asked him for a divorce.  Something has happened for sure."

At this point, I turn to the class as a whole and ask them if they agree with what Jane has said.  They invariably agree and think something has happened.  A very powerful assumption has come into play.  Notice that no one says, well that just happens.  They immediately assume that some outside force has caused his behavior to change.  

This is a very powerful assumption that all of us use every day, and yet we don't always think of it when making decisions.  For instance, have you ever had a friend say, "Well when we get married he will change".  Believe me, he won't.

Sometimes this is called the Principle of Behavior Consistency and has been used to develop a type of interviewing style called Behavior Description Interviewing.  

I'd like to suggest that we use this in the current election style.  What you see and hear is what you will get.  Change will NOT automatically occur when someone takes the mantle of the presidency.