Feelings about change: the ten second test

Instantly discover a persons main worry about an upcoming change by how they speak just five words: We cant do that here.


I found this in a book a long time ago - "The Secret Language of Success: Using Body Language to Get What You Want" by Dr. David Lewis (1989).

I confess I never got round to testing it properly but it sounded intriguing so I pass it on - "buyer beware".

Imagine you are the leader of a new team or network.

How can you quickly find out what each team member's number one concern is about working in this scenario?

Dr Lewis recommends you get each of them to repeat the following 5 words out loud without thinking about it too much:

"We can't do that here"

Listen carefully to which of the five words they stress - if its:

  1. We - they are worried about their Identity
  2. Can't - they are worried about their beliefs and values
  3. Do - they are worried about their skills
  4. That - they are worried about their behavior
  5. Here - they are worried about the environment

It might be nonsense, they might laugh at you or you might just learn something important about one of your fellow team members!

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Hi Ken,

This also relates to Robert Dilt's (of NLP fame) neuro-logical levels, which in turn probably came out of Bateson's "Towards an Ecology of Mind". To take it just a little further, change at a 'higher' level, e.g. identity, will effect change at lower levels, but the reverse is not true. So if you are trying to change a team's behaviour, while none of them shares a team identity, it won't work. But instill the identity and the behaviours will then be easier to change. I'm not sure it is that simple and tend to believe (there's that word again!) that sometimes defining behaviours is a good way to start, working up from there.


Thank you - thats very helpful background

For those not familiar with Bateson (or other pioneers such as Maturana) see http://www.oikos.org/psicen.htm




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