THEY say change is the only constant thing in this world.
Yet we can get so stubborn and stuck in our own ways that we could not see the years turning. The resolution we hold still contains the same items as that in 2015.
Despite our achievements, our insecurities are still as strong as that of when we were teenagers. Our view of the world is still encoded with obsolete programming made by people who are no longer significant.
We also know of people who refuse to entertain any other idea except theirs even when it’s so obvious that their ways are no longer working. We see leaders losing great people simply because they refuse to listen to unconventional views or try out new paths. We hear of business or corporations disappearing because of arrogance, thinking they’re too big to be ever touched by disruptive innovations.
This very common phenomenon is known as “Entrained Thinking.”
According to Dave Snowden and Mary Boone in their Harvard Business Review article entitled “A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making,” “Entrained thinking is a conditioned response that occurs when people are blinded to new ways of thinking by the perspectives they acquired through past experiences, training, and success.”
This blindness has been deemed to be one of the biggest obstacles to positive experiences such as mindfulness and practicing of presence. It prevents effective communication and blocks steps for moving forward as new or different ideas are seen as personal attacks instead of opportunities for growth.
Most often, the victims are the intellectuals and experts of a certain field. Because of the hard work and time already invested in learning their craft, they sometimes feel uncomfortable changing what they already know and believe to be true. This feeling can stem from attaching their whole life’s work to an idea or way of living that they feel great hostility towards anyone or anything that can question or threaten it.
Others with entrained thinking may have traumatic experiences which left them with permanent negative impressions about a certain person, culture, or issue.
Remember that theories and ideas are already powerful enough to foster entrained thinking so a personal tragic experience has more than enough capacity to cement a belief as it is enveloped by overwhelming and, most of the time, unconscious emotional reactions.
Breaking through entrained thinking takes a lot of love, patience, and determination.
It will require you to be the bigger person in your conversations. Your superpower must be empathy and clarity where the other is coming from so you can approach the issue in a way the message can best be received. You must lay out bridge after bridge even with the threat of being rejected. You must try to restrain the need for supremacy and control, focusing instead on fostering understanding.
Recognizing entrained thinking also takes humility and the ability to surrender to the fact that the other person is simply not ready to listen or see a perspective other than his or hers. It may not be the right time, the right place, or the right approach. You may even be not the right person to open his or her mind to the idea.
The greatest diplomats and statesmen know when to seek a good wingman to get their message across without alienating their targets.
A good plan has all the letters in the alphabet, prepare an alternative course.
If it’s not a matter of life or death, maybe it’s better to agree to disagree to avoid more harm in the relationship and move forward. Know when it’s not worth all the fuss and just give it a rest.
Or else, it will just be two entrained thinkers banging their heads together.