Invisible Influence

By | February 16, 2018

Within the coaching community, there are different coaches which like to specialize in different areas. Some coaches specialize in business coaching and helping people to achieve goals, whilst others specialize in areas ranging from life coaching, to fitness coaching, to coaching couples on how to get along with each other. For this article, I would like to touch upon the latter topic of couples coaching (many people also refer to it as couples counselling) because it really is an interesting and an often misunderstood topic.

The flow of couples coaching generally goes like this. The couple is experiencing some relationship difficulties so they go and see a coach. If only one part of the couple sees the coach, the coach should ask for the other half to be present otherwise the coach will not proceed with the coaching. The reason is because both parties need to recognize that they are family, and need be involved in creating a joint outcome and working towards this joint outcome. Once the couple is present, the coach would ask some general questions about what the couple’s current challenges are and then hit them with two big questions. The first question is “do both of you want this outcome”. The second question is “are both of you willing to do whatever it takes”. Both parties need to answer yes to both questions before the coach will proceed with the coaching.

Whilst this article is not focusing on couples coaching, I like to use it as an analogy to illustrate what most people want in life and how it is related to starting a relationship or having someone become part of your family (such as a spouse). Firstly, there needs to be some similar interests otherwise it is difficult to kick things off (although opposites can sometimes be attracted to each other, it doesn’t usually happen that much). The reason why there needs to be similar interests is because people respond better to those who are similar to them. To prove this theory, take a minute to think about your closest friend. Think about their personality, what they like doing, what they don’t like doing. Have you realized that your closest friend is quite similar to you in some ways? Maybe not similar in everything, but there must be some shared interests or beliefs otherwise it would be hard to sustain a friendship with that person. People are pulled towards things they familiar with. That is why habits can be so hard to break and why you and I generally wake up at the same time on most days (emphasis on “most” as you know, Saturday mornings….). But whilst familiarity is something that we seek out unconsciously, we also like new things and stuff which bring a sense a novelty. Unless we find that this new thing or situation is better than the previously familiar one, we will not accept it fully into our life and stay on guard until we know that it is a better replacement. So in that sense, what the vast majority of people are seeking is a middle ground – we went a strong sense of familiarity but also enough novelty to keep things interesting.

So, back to couples coaching. In most cases, the outcome of such coaching is for both parties to recognize that they are indeed a family, to agree to put effort into treasuring and appreciating one other, but also to do new things together to keep things interesting. It all leads back to the same thing. Familiarity is something that everyone is drawn to and something which is a strong influencing force on most of our behaviors. After all, the words familiarity and family are pretty similar right?

For business and personal development:

When starting out on a new business or new adventure, try to stick to something that can leverage your or your team’s strengths. If you are good at music for example and want to seek out a new project or hobby, choose something that is somewhat related to music (such as starting a band, creating a musical app, and so on). If you want to start a business, do something that takes advantages of your strengths, which is also typically what you enjoy doing anyway. Starting something new that you are good at plus enjoy would motivate you to turn it into something successful, whilst also giving you an extra push if you come across any obstacles. Our inner voice that favors the familiar will always influence us to do better than something that is completely different and unfamiliar to us.

Do you find this article valuable? If so, check out the book “Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior” by Jonah Berger. You can receive the book immediately via e-book format (Kindle).