As you might know I have been growing my beard and I can’t trim until we start our first exterior paint job. Well the beard is quite distracting. I have spent hours trying to convince Simon, my two year old nephew, that he should grow a beard. I have repeated the mantra “I want a beard!” to Simon at least 500 times.
After all my hard work Simon is finally asking for a beard! So the first lesson you can apply is that if you say something 500 times people will internalize the message.
Now, I have tried this technique on painters before, and it wasn’t incredibly successful. I have said to painters ‘make sure everything is clean’ over 500 times and they don’t always get it right. That leads me to the second lesson.
The second lesson is start young, anyone over three years old is a lost cause. (I have tried the same mantra on my other Nephew, OB1, who is 4 years old, but I kept running away from me saying ‘No’.)
This one might seem a bit obvious but you subject also has to be open to changing their behaviour. At the wise old age of 4 OB1 is pretty set in his ways. Simon however is ready to learn and grow. Lesson three: Your subject must want to change.
As it turns out, it also works better if your subject knows you and trusts your relationship. That is lesson four. Trust. For scientific purposes I tried the same technique on a random 2 year old in a McDonald’s once. It didn’t work very well.
After my success with the beard growing I used the same technique to try to convince Simon that his stuffed monkey was actually a penguin. After 500 attempts he still wouldn’t believe me. Lesson 5 is you can’t convince a subject of things if they know it is wrong.
So when you put this all together what do you come out with. Well once concise sentence of course!
To help someone to learn and to grow you must have patience (lesson 1), trust (lesson 4), value based messaging (lesson 5) and, in turn, your subject must want to learn (lesson 2) and be open to change (lesson 3).