"I thought you'd given up, so that you'd not get migraines any more?" "Ahh, but you know what I'm like..."
We've all heard people say this, in many contexts. Sometimes, it's even us that says it. And yet we don't seem to learn. Don't seem to be able to do 'better', to stick to our guns. It's incredibly frustrating as a manager to hear this. Often, its related to a stressful situation that could have been avoided. We just don't seem to be able to help ourselves!
What can we do about it?
What often lies behind these words is something like this: "It's not my fault, I'm just made like this. I'm powerless to change"
The challenge is that what often lies behind these words is something like this: "It's not my fault, I'm just made like this, I'm powerless to change". One thing we can be sure of is that they (ok, we!) are right. What we believe in our hearts we achieve in our lives. Especially when it's negative.
What we don't know, in most cases, is what to say or do when these limiting beliefs show up.
As always, it depends. Not just on our knowledge, mutual respect and rapport, but on how it's said - where the emphasis is placed.
Imagine hearing it with the emphasis on each key word: You. I'm. Like... Where we 'tonally mark' indicates what's really important and therefore what the belief is founded on. A strong "You" could mean only you (the listener) can help. Strength in the "I" could point to lower self esteem of the form "I'm so much less able than you".
Emphasis placed on 'Like' is slightly different. A good question might be "Yes, but do you like it?"
As always, we need to seek first to understand. By asking a good open question. And once their thinking opens up, we can extend well by exploring what they want instead - as there's usually an implied "but" at the end. So why not ask about that.
Feedback is the key
Giving useful feedback using the NICER model (here...) you might say something like:
"I've noticed that you often say that and how it impacts on how you're feeling. So I'm wondering if you mean it to tell me that you're powerless to do otherwise. Is that right? What would have to happen for it to be different? Because that could have a profound effect for your future, couldn't it?"
What's your part in this?
Lastly, it's important to consider how you personally might have inadvertently conditioned or encouraged this way of thinking. So don't agree - which is the easiest thing to do - but instead, ask a useful question or two. Give some feedback.
And if it's you saying it? Consider this: How hard have you tried for it to be otherwise?
As always, these are just some ingredients. Now its your turn to cook.