The Cold Machine Part II

The resistance to opinion change also applies to our opinions about our selves.  Do you fully acknowledge your accomplishments and contributions to your family, friends, and colleagues?  What negative opinions do you have of yourself? Is there a voice in your head holding you back? I recently learned a 6-step method of opinion change, that we could apply to our misconceptions of the world around us, as well as the world inside of us. Each step is in the form of a question. They are based on the scientific method of inquiry.


1-What do you really believe anyway?


2-How well based is the opinion that you already hold (data vs. personal experience)?


3-How good is the evidence?


4-Does the current evidence really contradict what you already believe?


5-If the current evidence is not enough to change your mind, what would be enough to change your mind?


6-Is it worth finding out about or is it just a case of why not? (If you believe that drinking a class of water before you take an exam helps you do better, why not just continue to do it? No harm done.)


I am happy to be able to share this with you, and hope that you will give it a try. Evidence is not enough to change opinion, you need to create a story that goes with it, and these questions are a useful guide to doing just that.  As for me, I no longer care about which side of the penny is showing and enjoy a good pear. For those who play the slots, here is something you can believe:


Two friends, Smith and Jones, went together to play the slot machines at the casino. Each agreed that when his allotted money was gone, he would go to the front of the casino and sit on the bench to wait for his friend. Jones quickly lost all of his money and went to sit on the bench. He waited and waited and waited and waited. After what seemed an eternity, he saw Smith coming toward him carrying a huge sack of coins. “Hey, Jones,” said Smith, “how’d you do?” “Well, Smith”, said Jones, “you see me here on this bench- what do you think? It looks like you hit it big, though.” “Oh yeah,” said Smith, “did I find a good machine! It’s way in the back. I’ll show it to you-you can’t lose! Every time you put in a dollar four quarters come out!!!”

The Cold Machine Part I

There are so many experiments that prove that you have no clue as to what motivates you. Take the sock experiment. Four pairs of socks are laid out on a table and passers by are asked to pick the pair they like the best. They are labeled 1-4, with 1 being on the left side. Invariably, a majority picks the fourth pair, the one to the extreme right. 12% pick #1, 17% pick #2, 31% pick #3, and 40% pick #4. The socks are all exactly the same, but people have a natural bias to things that are on the right. Then the experiment is repeated, and this time after the person picks the pair they think are the best they are told that they are all the same, and they are surprised and skeptical. They are also told of the right side bias. Nobody believes it!

We all underestimate how much our beliefs and theories contribute to our observations and opinions, and are not all that open to how many other ways what we see could have been interpreted.

There is a ton of evidence that it is hard for us to reconcile our previous beliefs with new data that prove we are wrong. We have all experienced this. When I was a teenager I came down with an awful flu, I ran a fever that spiked up to 105 degrees. The last thing I ate before I got sick was a pear. For years I thought the pear had something to do with why I became so ill and couldn’t eat one. I also used to be a firm believer in not picking up heads down pennies to avoid bad luck. Do you believe the gambler’s fallacy? If you flip a coin and it comes up heads six times in a row, is a tail more likely on the seventh flip? No it is not, but try convincing the person that is hanging on at that losing slot machine because it has got to produce a win after so many loses. The hard cold data shows that each coin flip and each pull of the lever is an act not related to the one before.

Spite: Cut Off Your Nose

On my way to an event precipitated by spite,I listened to the Freakamonics podcast called Spite Happens to get in the right mood.

It begins with the gruesome etymology of the phrase “cut off your nose to spite your face” which involves medieval nuns cutting off their noses and their upper lips to prevent invaders from raping them. It worked. The podcast goes on to support the notion that people have a propensity to do things for spite even if it hurts them. At that moment it matched my experience. It was hard to take the high road.

I habitually hold the door for the person behind me, at this event I felt a bit of joy when I let the door go. Even though I could not resist the opportunity to let the door go, I believe that what others do is their karma and how you react is yours. So I brought a bit of bad karma into my life, and got right back on the good karma wagon.

It is hard to feel neutral when someone wants you to suffer. Lashing back puts a downward spiral into motion. As you go down, down into the rabbit hole, you can feel anxious, powerless, frustrated and trapped. Spite takes control.

You can take charge. If at all possible, just don’t take the invitation to be involved. In my case that was not an option, but if it is an option for you, consider it. Any initial discomfort that you experience has got to be better then walking into the trap set by spite.

A highly effective response to spite or just about any conflict, is to react with curiosity. If you have the opportunity to ask questions that will clarify the position of the other person you can take the heat out of the situation. When it worksits magical.

The ultimate way to respond to spite is best stated by Don Miguel Ruiz. This is from his book The Four Agreements.”The second agreement – don’t take things personally – cautions us not to take anything said to heart. Most of the time, few things people say or do is about us personally; their thoughts are rooted in their individual perception. Others should not control our moods. By not taking things personally, we immunize ourselves to others’ efforts to manipulate our emotions or beliefs, and in turn, we experience less conflict.”

Spiteful behavior that is aimed at you, says nothing about you and volumes about the person who is being spiteful.

Spite isn’t all bad. The infamous Topeka Westboro Baptist Church is known for homophobia.The members of the church are notorious for appearing at the funerals of celebrities and soldiers to parade their placards and bring attention to their doctrine. Aaron Jackson, co-founder of Planting Peace, was inspired when he heard about 9 year old Josef Miles picketing the church with a sign saying God Hates No One. He bought a property across the street and painted it the colors of the gay pride flag-so there Westboro Church!

And Enzo Ferrari once said, “You know how to drive a tractor but you will never know how to drive a truck.” He said it to Ferruccio Lamborghini who then made a car of his own. Hey, Enzo, who knows how to drive what now?

Why Are There Lousy Bosses?

Seth Godin says that if you treat your employees like “mushrooms” keep them in the dark and through crap on them, you will get the kind of work you deserve in return. It is widely documented that the way you treat your employees is they way they treat your clients, how productive they are, and ultimately the bottom line.  It got me thinking,  since this is well known, why do some leaders take the mushroom approach?

You might think it is ignorance, however, this is not likely, since it is so easy to find and learn best practices for managing staff. I coach and train managers on this, and start by saying it is not rocket science. If you are willing, you can gain the skills to be a great manager. I have also come up against managers who refuse to engage in the discovery and learning process.

I find that there are generally two reasons for this refusal, which is the proverbial putting your head in the sand. The first is that they boss has personality traits that keep her or him stuck in this counter-productive style. It could be an extreme lack of trust, low self-confidence, a high need for control,  or any combination of these traits. If you add resistance to personal awareness, you have a boss stuck in a destructive pattern. The second reason is putting the mission in second or third place. A leader at any level makes the best decisions when they are guided first by the mission, whether it is to serve customers or make the best quality widgets. If personal needs, dictated by personality, guide decisions and behavior, mission takes a back seat and best practice goes out the window.




The 24 Personality Traits/Self-Control Traits/Control

#24 Control is the degree to which you speak or act after careful deliberation or calculation.

If you are above average you are deliberate, analytical, and hesitant. You may also be indecisive and procrastinate.

If you are below average you are decisive and act quickly. You may also be impulsive and not consider consequences.

Based on where you are on the continuum, you may push yourself to act without every single detail nailed down or you may need to hold yourself back and be more considerate of outcomes.


#18 Leadership is the degree to which you have a strong desire to control, influence, and direct others.

If you are above average you enjoy being in charge and are quick to take control. You may also have difficulty being a good team member.

If you are below average you prefer to be a follower or the team member. You may also be limiting your opportunities.

Based on where you are on the continuum you may need to be more aware of when you need to let go of control or when you need to step up to the plate.


Contact Us
For More

Call 347.964.6983 or e-mail me.

“Ettie is an excellent and inspiring coach! I was so pleased to have such positive outcomes as a result of our meetings. Ettie has a superb ability to listen and offer clear guidance. I highly recommend Ettie to anyone looking for some inspiration and clear techniques to create their own success!”

— Ruah Bhay,
owner Ruah Yoga


Top of Page