Mark Sanborne has an interesting blog post about heeding wisdom in which he reminds us of 7 levels or stages that people go through in learning and changing behaviour:
- We don’t know (we are ignorant).
- We know but don’t believe (we don’t think a particular truth applies to us or our situation).
- We know and believe but still don’t do it ( we lack conviction because it’s difficult, inconvenient, or unnecessary).
- We know and believe, and we would if we could (we lack the skills to do it).
- We know and do it but inconsistently (we get lazy or forgetful or distracted).
- We know and do it consistently (we’ve formed a good behaviour that we consciously cultivate).
- We know and make it second nature (it’s become part of who we are, a good habit).
I find that when I am training partners and professionals in skills such as leadership, communication and business development, I rarely need to start from stage 1. Usually they know what they should be doing.
For example, when it comes to giving constructive feedback to staff, most professionals know they should do it (ie they have got past stage 1) but relatively very few have made it through to stage 7. Many get stuck at stage 3. If they ever get past that, stage 4 isn’t much of a problem but stage 5 can become a sticking point.
Whenever we are trying to create behavioural change, I think Mark’s 7 stages are a useful guide to help in bringing about change.