Why do we make life hard for ourselves?

Do you ever feel like you are hitting your head against a brick wall, frustrated that people aren’t doing what you expect them to or what they told you they’d do?

Being human doesn’t qualify you

When it comes to influencing others, one of the curious traps we fall into is thinking we know how. We think being human qualifies us to know how other humans tick.

For a large part of my corporate career I had wrestled with the frustration of getting people to do the stuff that I wanted to do. Perhaps some of the following thoughts sound familiar?

  • I don’t get why they don’t understand.
  • It’s common sense to do this.
  • It’s logical.
  • They are being irrational.
  • They’re idiots.

It wasn’t them. It was me.

It turns out that I was not equipped to be my most effective, productive, energised self. My in-built human toolkit had a massive flaw.

Bias blind spot

We are simply not designed to be aware of our behavioural biases. We don’t walk around believing the prevailing social norm has influenced what we are wearing. We don’t drive to work recognising that we are relying on System 1 processing. We don’t consider when buying a product that marketing has triggered a Familiarity Bias towards one brand over another.

Why? Because we’re governed by the biggest bias of all: overconfidence.

We tend to believe we are more right than we ever actually are.

That leads us to continue to try to influence people in the same way we always have, even though it is frustrating, time-consuming and ego-sapping.

Time to get a toolkit

It’s time to correct your bias blind spot.

It’s time to use your time more efficiently and effectively.

It’s time to change behaviour.

Here’s a tool that can work in any industry, any job, anywhere, any time. You can use it in your work life and personal life, for small issues or massive ones.

The tool is my “3 steps to behavioural influence”.


It’s simple to use and is a cut-down variant of the Williams Behaviour Change Model, which is a framework for analysing and resolving any behavioural challenge.

The next time you are seeking to influence someone to take action, ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is the context?
  2. What are the barriers?
  3. What are the enablers?

By asking these three questions you will be forced to consider the behavioural challenge from the perspective of the person you are trying to influence, circumventing your in-built overconfidence and improving your likelihood of success.

Bri Williams runs People Patterns, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.


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