How Company Culture Evolves – “The 5 Monkeys”

With thanks to CasaZaza.

The attached video beautifully explains the story of  “The 5 Monkeys”. This is a metaphor for how cultures evolve, and more importantly why they are difficult to change. It is not only about politics, it is about culture.

As you watch the video, reflect on the environment that you work in, play in or live in.

 Are you a victim of 5 Monkey Syndrome? Or maybe a perpetrator?

Can you become a Change Agent and undo 5 Monkey Syndrome?

Refereeing, influential communication, and sins of the father

You may not know this, but I spend a part of my spare time as a football referee. Now, we are getting to the business part of the season where titles are won and promotion or relegation issues are decided. This can lead to a degree of tension in football matches, and the referee can easily be hated by both teams.

The aim of this post is not to issue a plea on behalf of referees, but rather to share some insights into influential communication that I have learned from recent matches.

Last weekend, I refereed 2 matches. On Saturday, the match was between 2 teams of Under 12 boys. It was a competitive affair, played in a good spirit, but not without its incidents. What impressed me was the calm way that the coaches and spectators (mostly parents) conducted themselves. There was very little, if any, negativity from the sidelines, and this was reflected in excellent behaviour from both teams. Even when a player got injured and crawled off the pitch, both coach and player accepted it as part of the game. It was clear to me that the players of both teams reflected the culture and approach of their coaches.

The following day, I refereed an open-age (adults to you and me) match. This time, one of the teams was quite relaxed and easy going. They were already relegated and accepted it for what it was. They contested some decisions, but always in a polite and respectful way. Some may say that this is why they ended up relegated, but that’s an argument for another day.

It soon became apparent that the other team took a different view, commenting or challenging every decision that I made as the referee. Eventually, I took the captain of this team to one side and warned him that I would have to caution someone for dissent if this behaviour did not stop. It didn’t, and so I ended up booking one of the team. This young lad had been offering me his opinion throughout the game and was the most frequent offender, so it was no surprise that he ended up in my book. I took his name and was about to restart the game, when another member of the same team stepped across the line and was cautioned. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this player not only had the same surname as the first offender, but was the father of the lad I had just booked!

So, 2 matches, 2 days, 2 contrasting atmospheres. What are we to conclude from these events?  Well, as children we learn how to behave from significant parental figures in our lives (Eric Berne, Transactional Analysis, TA). Mums, Dads, teachers and football coaches all contribute to ensure that we get the children we deserve; that is, reflections of ourselves, our values, and our behaviours. This is sometimes called sins of the father. So, keep this in mind when you are in any kind of man-management position. Treat others how you want to be treated, or live with the consequences.


Semantic links, NLP and embedded commands

We are all familiar with semantic links. They are words in electronic media which are highlighted, often in a different colour to the main text. When you move your cursor over the word, it is revealed to be a hyperlink (a link that takes you to another web page) with more information the author wants you to read. Sometimes the sentence that the semantic link appears in is a pretext to get you to click on the link. This can be to link you to adverts or web pages, but it is also the trick used to infect your pc with trojans or viruses. You recognise the set up – a screen pops up looking like Windows Defender with scary threats that your PC is infected. You are then encouraged to activate an antivirus package, possibly one you believe you already have or one you have to purchase. The problem is that once you do this, you allow the trojan access to your pc where it can wreak havoc.  

What you may not be so familiar is that there is a linguistic (the L in NLP) trick that is used in influential communication to get people to do what you want them to. This is at the heart of the work of stage performers such as Derren Brown or Paul McKenna. In NLP it is called an embedded command. Here is how it works; the command is hidden or embedded in a longer sentence.

For instance:

“You may or may not decide to sign up to my blog site

In this example, the embedded command is written in italics. The conscious mind hears the full sentence, but the subconscious mind replays the words and can be inclined to hear the embedded command. This is particularly true if you like the speaker (another of Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion) and want to please them. This is a key basis of hypnosis.  Notice, all of this is happening at a sub-conscious level.  

Embedded commands are even more effective when they use ambiguous language, such as in the following example:

“You, like me, are probably a very reasonable person.

The embedded command is, again, in italics. The subconscious mind ignores the grammar and looks at the various possible meanings of the sentence. One interpretation, possibly the desired one, tells your subconscious mind that you like me. So you do.

The learning here is that by building up a stock of choice embedded commands you can develop as a more influential communicator. In this way you are more likely to get the outcomes you deserve.

You are probably now aware of the embedded commands you already use.

Share some of your examples below.

Cialdini, Principles of Persuasion and April Fools’ pranks that are believed

As today is the first day of the fourth month, there is a lot of influential communication to be observed in the form of April Fools’ pranks. Clearly, the aim of a prank is to influence another person to believe an absurdity.

But what makes one of these pranks more likely to be believed than another?

Well, the Principles of Persuasion, devised by Robert Cialdini, can give us some clues. One principle is particularly effective; Authority.

Basically, people are more likely to be influenced in their behaviour from someone to whom they attribute relevant expertise or authority.  Think about the most famous pranks, reported or perpetrated by the BBC such as;

 1957: Hoax BBC Panorama reveals spaghetti harvest in Switzerland

1976: Patrick Moore tells BBC Radio 2 listeners that at 0947 a planetary event would lessen Earth’s gravity and if people jumped in the air at that moment, they would float.

What made these pranks so successful was the fact that authorities such as the BBC or Patrick Moore, a leading expert on Astronomy and well known TV personality, were involved.

Of course, fun as this is – or not depending on your perspective – many organisations make use of the Authority Principle in their promotion, as indeed am I.

What’s your experience of this?

Comments welcomed