THESE ARE LIFELONG PATTERNS we re talking about. I m not sure that I or any of the people around me can actually change. Reading is a lot easier than actually acting differently.
It s easy to get discouraged when staring into the face of habit. When it comes to human interaction, much of what we do, we do almost without thinking. We follow lifelong scripts: well worn, familiar, and nearly automatic. We lay into our kids with the same ease and lack of thought typical of ordering fast food. We know what we re going to say, we know what others are going to say, and we don t even have to think about it. We could play either part.
How do you break away from lifelong habits?
It s also easy to get discouraged when we know that we tried to make improvements in the past and failed. Ninety percent of those of us who have attempted to lose a few pounds have dropped and then regained the same weight so many times that we no longer believe our own stories: This time I m going to keep it off for sure. This time it s different. Or maybe it s been an exercise program that has yielded a different mechanical contraption every year until the garage is bursting with nearly new aerobic ab machines, yet we still break into a sweat trying to open a jar of pickles. Or perhaps we made a commitment to eating healthier foods but sort of lost steam when we found ourselves stopping at a Fat Burger for a pick-me-up on the way to the health food store.
Accustomed to talking ourselves into short- term action that can t be sustained, we become cynical self-doubters who are reluctant to start down one more trail we ll never follow to the end.
So how do we stick to a plan?
The good news is that nothing in this book is new or the least bit alien. The skills we teach weren t discovered on the planet Krilnack. On your best day you do much of what every interpersonally smart person does. You step up to a crucial confrontation, work hard to ensure that you don t fly off the handle or otherwise act stupid, and do a pretty good job. On your best day you are the kind of person the authors were studying when they isolated the best practices for dealing with failed promises.
You don t have to change everything ”just a few things ”and maybe be a bit more consistent. Better still, you don t have to change your underlying, immutable, I-can t-help-it-if-I-was-born-this-way personality. To improve your results, you need to reshape a few of your thoughts and alter a few of your actions. That s it. There is no need for a full-fledged genetic intervention, and frontal lobotomies are out of the question (save for recreational purposes).
To make this tweaking of thoughts and words easier, we have a few suggestions. First, studying this book is best done in pairs. Find one or more other people and share ideas. Develop goals, practice together, and support each other as you step up to new and untested crucial confrontations .
Whether you re working in pairs or alone, pick one skill and work on it. Then do the same thing with another skill. Devote one hour a week for 10 weeks. That s all it takes to bring about important changes. Set aside a time at home and at work when you will talk about issues that normally you would leave untouched. Finally, check out the support materials available at www.crucialconfrontations.com/book. Download the free material. Watch the video examples. Sign up for ongoing assistance and reminders. Pick one skill and work on it for a week. Eat the elephant of personal change one bite at a time.