If you work with people to train their dogs, it’s inevitable that you eventually are going to run someone who just doesn’t seem to want to do what you are suggesting. Sometimes it’s because they have a prior belief about training and – like all of us – they look for evidence that supports their beliefs and reject or ignore anything that doesn’t. So be prepared to leave some leave-behind materials with several links to credible third-party information. ScienceDirect provides access to over 2000 academic science and medical journals and is a good place to start.
But sometimes people just do not seem motivated. There could be any number of reasons, but in many cases there they stem from a more unconscious factor. In a previous article we discuss psychological reactance and how it can undermine client compliance to a dog training or behavior program. In this series of articles we outline a process that can help with that.
Step 4: Ask them why they didn’t pick a lower number.
I love this question. Pantalon in his book Instant Influence: How to Get Anyone to Do Anything–Fast says most people are surprised by it because they expect you to ask why didn’t they pick a higher number. I guess this is because we constantly try to persuade people to do what we want them to do and in turn we experience the same thing from others: our spouses, our children, teachers, bosses, friends, etc.
But asking them why they didn’t pick a lower name actually gets them to focus on what motivation they actually already have. This is one of the better ways to overcome resistance. This shifts them off the focus of why they don’t want to do something to why they might want to.
I did this with one of my daughters. I was trying to encourage her to study French over the summer because she hadn’t done that well in it during the school year. I was surprised when I found out she already had some motivation to do it. She said 5 or 10 minutes of studying (all I required) was not actually too bad and she had identified how much easier picking it back up in the fall would be. But had I told her why she would benefit from it (my ideas), or insisted she do this, she would never have discovered her own reasons for it (which we not the same as mine), and I would have encountered much more resistance. Win-win!
What if they pick a 1?
You might not experience this with the person who actually called you for the training session. However, you may encounter it with a reluctant family member. But even in that case, that family member at least turned up. There is usually something there to work with. But if your client has picked the number 1 (not ready at all), start over with a smaller, less intimidating action. Or ask them what would it take to move the 1 to a 2.
If you want to learn more, check out Instant Influence: How to Get Anyone to Do Anything–Fast. Panatlon discusses in much more detail the language that can help or undermine motivation, how to influence people who don’t want to change, how to identify change and when to move on, how to make an action plan, as well as a whole lot of suggestion on how to deal with various responses.
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