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The Art and Science of Persuasion and Influence

David Krueger MD


Why Do We Resist Change?

  • Part of the answer to why we resist change is in our minds.

  • And part of the answer to why change is difficult is in our brains.

Many of the methods to facilitate change are contrary to how the mind and brain work.

The catalyst for insight is a novel stimulus: new information or new context.

Comfort Zones

A comfort zone is a familiar pattern of behavior:

  • Attachment patterns to important people

  • Procrastination of lifestyle changes you need to make.

  • Certain behavior patterns

A comfort zone can trade passion for predictability, creativity for continuity, and the new for the familiar.

A comfort zone is an unconscious thermostat until it becomes conscious. Then you can reprogram your mind and brain.

Principles of How the Brain Operates to Facilitate Change

1. Change Generates Discomfort

Any attempt to modify behavior and habits requires an actual rewiring of the brain. Activities that we have repeated, that have become habits, are hard – wired into the brain.

When habits are confronted and have to change, the automatic pilots in the midbrain get disrupted. We feel discomfort. The prefrontal cortex (the thinking brain) has to get busy with more energy and attention to process this thinking.

The brain naturally resists change

The promise of change is to develop a new, better default mode

2. Change Creates Dissonance

Error detection mechanism: the difference between expectation and perceived actuality. It registers as a sense that something’s not quite right.

Neural machinery can both recognizeand correct errors—to optimize behavior.

3. The Brain is a Prediction Machine.

When anything recurs two times in a row, the brain predicts a third repetition.

Extrapolation: predicting the future based on the past

The human brain automatically imposes patterns and predictions on repeated events. This makes it a challenge to override both emotion and brain patterns to make wise and balanced decisions.

4. The Role of Motivation

Nonessential: Motivation

Essential: Have a plan and stick to it

5.Neurogenesis: The creation of new brain cells

Two things above all others create neurogenesis:

  • Enriched environment

  • Exercise

Chronic stress impairs neurogenesis

6. Neuroplasticity: The brain remodels itself.

The brain can reassign job descriptions of neurons.

When we write a new story–and change our minds–we change our brains

Operating Systems

90-95% of our behaviors and core beliefs operate on autopilot.

We observe behavior patterns and infer beliefs and models.

  • The surface story that is conscious and logical

  • The shadow story may ghostwrite behavior

The most powerful force of human psyche: return to core identity

Mentoring and leadership both require insight, self-reflection, and mindfulness

Change and Transition

  • The change is the event.

  • The transition is the process.

Four Components of Transition

1. Every transition begins with an ending

2. People in transition will create new ways to return to the old story.

3. The new beginning involves changing how you see yourself—even aspects of your identity.

4. Never underestimate the changeback pressure from the system.

Applications of neuroscience to mentoring and change:

1. People have prior knowledge that affects how they hear and respond to new information.

2. The prior knowledge is physical, real, and persistent as a neuronal pathway in the brain.

3. If we ignore reality, it will get in the way of new information and change.

4. Partly because it is complex and personal and partly because it is subjective reality, someone is not always aware of prior knowledge.

5. When changes occur in a systematic and consistent way, new connections are made in the brain.

6. The optimum context for change is a relationship of collaborative, contingent conversations.

In adulthood, you either create or allow everything that happens to you.


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For any questions unanswered: