Choice theory not only explains why people whine, criticize, complain, nag, threaten and blame. It also shows you how to deal with these behaviors quickly and effectively.
The Seven Key Choice Theory’s™ Principles
There are seven principles which will provide the basis for you to communicate effectively with difficult people. Knowing them will give you an understanding of why people are perceived as difficult and using them will enable you to deal with difficult people much more effectively. Let’s look at each right now.
Principle # 1 You were born with Genetic needs of body and mind.
Some say there is a connection between your body and mind. The truth is your body and mind are not just connected they are one unified system. Your hand is an excellent metaphor for your genetic needs. Your thumb can represent the needs of your body while your fingers are your mind’s needs.
Let’s look at their unique needs.
- The needs of your body are:
- Be safe from harm to it.
- Air to sustain it.
- Nutrition and wafted to nourish it.
- Movement to maintain it.
- Sex to reproduce it.
- Rest to restore it.
The needs of your mind are:
- Freedom to make choices.
- Power to influence others.
- Love to and from others.
- Fun of Learning.
You are driven genetically to get all these needs met regularly. Each behavior you display is your attempt to do so.
For example, when you have lunch with a friend to discuss your significant other you are getting many of your body and mind’s needs met simultaneously. You are safe with your friend; you are getting air, food and wafted from your surroundings; you are able to move your body and rest it as you wish and you are ensuring your reproductive future with the topic under discussion. Mentally you have the freedom to make choices, you can influence your friend, you can notice you love and are loved and you can learn important things for your future.
So just like picking up your coffee cup uses your thumb and fingers so also with your body and mind combining to ensure your survival.
Principle # 2 You create a Value System to motivate yourself.
From your experiences you unconsciously create a fantasy version of the world, where there is pleasure and no pain. This idealized view is displayed by your value system. Your value system then motivates you in all areas of life to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
Metaphorically, you, like everyone else, wears an invisible pair of prescription eye glasses which determine what you consider pleasurable or painful. You use these glasses to judge the world around you and ensure your survival.
For example, if you had an experience of someone expecting you to eat broccoli and the taste was bitter (a pain) to you then you would add “not eating broccoli” to your value system and avoid the pain of it (a pleasure).
Principle # 3 Your Value System is special.
Your perception of the world is determined by your personal experiences so your value system is a unique personal view of the world and like no other.
For example, because I experienced childhood asthma, excema and allergies I placed high value on the health of my lungs and skin. So I am very health conscious and like to jog and use moisturizers.
Principle # 4 You have over 4600 choices in how to behave.
There are over 4600 unique behaviors which you can use to try to make the world more like the one in your value system. These behaviors can be considered positive or negative depending on the value system of who is judging. So any behavior can be either positive or negative depending on who judges it and when they judge it.
For example, contacting another person at 3 a.m. in the morning will be judged by the recipient as either positive or negative, not based on your value system but on their value system. So every behavior has the poftential to be both positive and negative.
Principle # 5 Every behavior has four parts.
Each behavior you use is composed of four parts with the first two parts controlling the second two parts. The first two controlling parts of every behavior are your action and your simultaneous thinking. The two controlled parts of each behaviors are the feelings and physiology you generate.
A good metaphor to understand Principle #5 is a front wheel drive automobile. (See Figure 4.2) he energy of the motor is connected directly to the front two wheels which determine the direction and pull the back two wheels in that direction. What you decide to do and think determine the feelings in your mind and the physiology in your body.
For example your hobby is an excellent demonstration of this principle. My hobby is building stone walls. The doing part is collecting, moving and placing stones; the thinking part is making a stable, balanced pattern with them. When I choose to do this I generate feelings of satisfaction which also generates exercise for my heart, lungs, muscles and other body parts.
Think of your hobby and uncover the four parts of it noticing what you decide to do and think generates what you feel and your body’s responses.
Principle # 6 here are two levels of your thinking.
Humans are the only animal which uses two levels of thinking simultaneously. First, you can think about the situation you are in from the information from your senses. Second, you can also think about yourself being in that situation from an outside perspective. This outside perspective is often called your “self talk.”
For example, if when I am building stone walls I say to myself, “This is good exercise for my body and mind!” then I generate positive feelings like empowerment and self satisfaction. If instead I say to myself, “his is bad for my back and I could hurt myself!” then I generate feelings of fear and dissatisfaction.
Principle # 7 The second level of thinking creates your feelings.
You may not realize yet but it is your self talk which creates your feelings. This means your feelings are under your direct control because you control what you decide to think. This also means you are much more powerful and have much more self control than you thought.
For example, if you won a million dollars today how you decided to think about yourself in this situation will determine how you will feel about it. If you say to yourself things like, “I am debt free and able to travel!” you will generate positive feelings. If you say to yourself things like, “Everyone is after my money and I don’t know who my friends are anymore!” you will generate negative feelings.
These principles are very important!
These principles are important because they demonstrate how you can gain self control and help others learn it. Using these principles will enable you to deal with difficult people where ever you find them.
However, this awareness of your self-talk’s ability to determine your feelings and physiology comes with increased accountability to yourself and others.
Here are just a couple of examples.
You control how you feel!
First, since you now know you create how you feel by what you decide to do and think, this also means you have control of how you feel all the time. And this means no one can make you feel anything without your prior permission. And this also means you always have control of how you feel if you take the responsibility for choosing the doing and thinking parts of your behavior. So you have control of how you feel in all times and in all places. You are a very powerful person.
You create most of your own diseases.
Second, eighty-five percent of people who access our medical systems do so for “psychosomatic” diseases. The other fifteen percent are caused by genetics, environment or accidents. The word psychosomatic comes from the Greek words for mind (psyche) and body (soma).
Psychosomatic diseases are now called “Life Style Diseases” because they are caused by our life style; caused by what we do with our body (behaviors) and think with our mind (value system).
The current list of psych-somatic diseases includes most heart disease, headaches, skin conditions, ulcers, allergies, arthritis, cancer, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and type II diabetes. The list grows each year.
This means eighty-five percent of your disease is unconsciously being created with your “Lifestyle”… by what you do and think. This applies to everyone. You can use these two implications to empower yourself toward more health both mentally and physically.
Choice Theory’s Seven Hidden Tools
Applying these seven principles creates seven hidden tools for dealing effectively with difficult people which you can start using today. Using these tools will enable you to deal more effectively with difficult people immediately. Watch for the impact these tools have on your interactions with difficult people.
Tool # 1 Assume their primary motive is always survival.
Every person is trying to survive and so well intentioned. There is no real good person or bad person. A difficult person can’t ignore or change their needs, but they can change their behavior to get their need met in another way! Remember they have over 4600 options.
This is an essential tool for dealing with difficult people. Without it you cannot be effective in communicating with them. While you may not like their current behavior choice, they are truthfully just trying to survive.
Tool # 2 Assume every behavior has a purpose!
They won’t move a muscle without a motive. Each person is motivated to get their needs met at every second so they can continue to live. That is why difficult people seems unable to change their annoying behaviors. From their perspective, within their value system, it is life threatening to do so.
Tool # 3 Assume every person is responsible for meeting their own needs and can learn a better way!
Learning is a lifelong process. Since it never really ends, any difficult person can learn new ways of communicating if they choose to do so. If they feel unthreatened they are more likely to learn other ways to satisfy their needs.
Tool # 4 Assume a difficult person will always need to make choices.
Since one of our basic needs is to make choices, it is vital a difficult person has choices which motivate and empower them to learn.
Tool # 5 Assume a difficult person will not change if there is no clear pay of for them.
Since all the behaviors of a difficult person are motivated by their value system, if a behavior is not need- fulfilling, that is, honors their value system, then it will not be chosen by them.
Tool # 6 Assume a difficult person’s behavior is their best choice at that moment.
A difficult person’s current behavior is their best attempt to get their needs met, at that point, given the options they are aware of and believe are available to them.
Tool # 7 Assume there is only one way to efectively communicate with a difficult person.
There are really three ways to communicate with another person:
care-lessly, (self righteous) care-fully (self wrongeous) and care-ingly (respectful). But only one will work.
Now let’s got to Chapter 5 and look in more detail at the 3 kinds of communication and how to make it happen with anyone at any time.