I deduce a fair amount of what people think from how I see them behaving. Psychologically, it is simple observation. Watch body language for any length of time and you can tell more than you think. might see. I think it’s fascinating to watch and predict; Sometimes I’ll be right and other times I’ll be quite surprised. It is an imperfect but reasonable science. People’s intentions are usually telegraphed in what they do and how they do it.

For example, I ran into a light duty truck the other day on the way to work. The first thing I noticed was that he passed me just past the corner we had both just turned. The interesting thing I noticed right away was the big decal the work truck displayed on the back door: “Practice Safety Now,” it said. I was intrigued at this point and continued to follow the work truck looking for more signs in the driver’s behavior that aligned with the safety message being displayed or the unsafe passing behavior I had just witnessed.

I was captivated by what I kept seeing. There was a mix of behaviors that indicated the driver might have been aware that he was did you mean driving safely, but he really didn’t know What to fully accomplish this. He was a young driver. I could have been in a hurry. Sometimes he seemed to be in a hurry, and other times during the twenty-kilometre journey he wasn’t. His behavior was disconcerting. It wasn’t consistent one way or the other.

On further reflection, I determined that this young man may have been experiencing the onset of a form of mental chaos. Lack of patience and ability to feel with the “stress” of a situation will lead to various mental, emotional and spiritual chaos. In the same way, not knowing how to behave consistently in a given situation reveals a chaos in cognitive processes. A dissonance occurs. Sometimes it is because we are asked to behave in a certain way, perhaps for safety, and yet it is not explained. why we should behave this way, we just have to.

I wonder if this was the case with this young man. Was he expected to drive safely but had not been properly motivated (trained) on how to do so? I tend to think that in order to behave safely we need to understand “why”, among other things. It also means knowing when and how to patiently deal with chaos. When brain processes get confused, we need to bring in a higher level of thinking: “neocortex” thinking. It is in these regions that we can rationalize many sources of conflicting information, but we invariably need time to analyze things properly; we have to delay processing. It doesn’t always work in the heat of the moment when many safety battles are fought mentally and are won or lost for the sake of individual or group safety.

This is where training comes in. The problem is that training today (ie traditional training) is a bit of a joke; there’s a 2-day course on something and then you wonder why the person hasn’t changed when they went back to work. We lose it almost immediately. Training someone to behave safely requires a journey with that person. They need to be advised and it can take years.

Motivating people to deal with the inevitable chaos ahead requires explanation in advance. When we anticipate things, particularly what we would call the ‘abnormal’ things that bring on chaotic feelings, we can plan to respond appropriately. It requires explanation. It’s the “When this happens, do this” philosophy. So it’s a matter of practice. train in the knowledge, and then in the ability that is, in the request of knowledge in the situation.

When people are properly trained and supported by the right culture, they typically respond very well.

© 2008, Steven John Wickham. All rights reserved throughout the world.

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