What makes people tick? What can be achieved in a seminar?
Executive Education / 8 February 2016
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Wolfgang is trainer, coach and published author in the field of communication. He has a PhD in mathematics and teaches his self-developed concept PEC - practical emotional competence throughout Germany and German-speaking countries. He provides seminars at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management since 2010 in English and German. Prior to his trainer career he worked as a manager in sales and service for international renowned companies in Germany.

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What makes people tick? What can be achieved in a seminar?

Humanity has concerned itself with the first question for ages. About 400 BC, Hippocrates suggested his four temperament types: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholy. This idea was modernized and refined in the 20th century with the still popular DISC® personality model. It is based on four behavioral styles: Dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. Behavior is driven by these four styles, but the occurrence varies individually. The DISC® personality test is supposed to measure any individual characteristic. According to the theory behind DISG® the profile can change throughout life, but it’s stable in the short-to-medium term. William M. Marston is widely seen as the spiritual father of DISG®. This is not quite correct though. He introduced the four letters DISG, however he described thereby four so-called primary emotions. According to his theory these emotions create four typical patterns of behavior. Which basic emotion controls the behavior in a situation depends – according to Marston – on the individual perception of this specific situation: If the judgement of the situation changes, the behavior will change as well – even immediately.

Dynamic models for behavior and personality

Therefore, Marston didn’t explain behavior in a static way, as a result of solid character traits. He considered behavior as a reaction to the individual’s perception of the current environment. This assessment takes place consciously or subconsciously. His dynamic explanation of behavior was far ahead of the time. It took almost 80 years until dynamic models of human behavior were accepted and looked at systematically. A standard reference book for this is Daniel Kahneman “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. He describes behavior as two different systems, the conscious pilot and the subconscious autopilot. The rational pilot – the homo sapiens within us – determines 5-10 % of our behavior. The autopilot with our habits and routines is responsible for the remaining 90-95% of what we do. Both systems are adaptive of learning and thus capable of development even in the short-run.

Pilot and Autopilot

In this context, Hans- Georg Häusel’s book “Brain View ” is of special interest. He explains our subconscious behavior by means of three programs of the limbic system: Dominance, stimulation and balance. Which program controls our current behavior results from our subjective perception and our unconscious evaluation of the environment. The application of this approach to Kahneman’s ideas provides a catchy model of our autopilot. This is because these three programs are described in detail by specific underlying rules. That makes subconscious behavior transparent and explainable. Even our conscious behavior has a system. We use and implement meaningful and proven rules. These form our fourth program, clarification in the pilot. Hereby we consciously reflect and evaluate information and alternatives. But it takes time to think. Compared to the pilot, the autopilot is about 150,000 times faster. That explains why the autopilot – why our gut decisions – dominate more than 90% of our behavior. Autopilot and pilot and their rules and values describe personality in a flexible manner. This manifests itself in our preferences for the rules we apply in different situations. We develop these preferences in the course of our lives through education, training and experience.

Internalizing rules and training skills

Applying rules is not only a matter of will, but also especially of skills. Even if we find a rule very useful, without feeling the ability to execute it successfully, we will reject it – consciously or subconsciously. This is the main reason why admonitions or good advice don’t help. We adopt new rules – consciously or unconsciously – only when we feel able to implement them. Thus, practice makes not only perfect – but also it is the condition for behavioral change and personal development. Especially in soft skills training the imparting of knowledge and rules can only be only a first step. The second step is to motivate the participants in a sustained way to apply the new knowledge and the related rules in their everyday practice. This needs a clear understanding of the associated benefits and especially a vivid visualization of the required skills for implementation. To change behavior in the long run requires that the ultimate goal is split into small steps. This includes that the participants figuratively get tools in their hands. Tools they can use in practice. For this brief, targeted role-playing is useful and helpful.

Sustainable training

But only a third step, following a classroom training, ensures sustained behavioral change: Participants must be urged to implement tools, accepted as useful, in their daily routine. Week after week, again and again. Practice and repetition re-programs the autopilot. Only what has been internalized is automatically available, even in the daily rush and stress! This requires a systematic guide that ensures a gradual skill building. Anything complex is based on simple things. Therefore, practice should start with simple tools that quickly bring a sense of achievement and thus lasting motivation. The trainer has to provide the basis for this process – but in addition, as well participants, supervisors and human resource developers are required as supporter. Because, man is largely a creature of habit, not only according to Gustav Freytag … Learn more about the FS Seminar “Situativ KOMMUNIZIEREN – effektiv VERHANDELN – individuell ÜBERZEUGEN” on our website. Please visit my website for more information and dates for sustainable training: