This is an extension of the article that I posted last week. But, if you haven’t read last week’s article, now is a good time to take a look at that. I stated boldly in that article that “Most of us don’t know what we want.” Here are some additional thoughts behind that statement, inspired by another young Gen Y reader’s comments on that article. Also, please tell me your thoughts. Thanks!
“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or courage, but because they never organized their energies around a goal.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
How do we effectively assess goals, non-verbal communications (not only body movements but also vocal changes) and other consequences?
Goal Diagnosis helps in assessing emotional blocks and personal histories. It can be used to respond appropriately to non-verbal communication. Goal diagnosis provides essential information for personal development as well.
Although any form of coaching or planning ideally starts with ‘well formed’ goal statements (outcomes), few people can specify their goals. Goal diagnosis recognizes many weird and wonderful goal statements… here are a few examples:
• Abstract goals (e.g. I only want to be happy)
• Childish goals (e.g. I want everything, now)
• Conflicts and multiple goals (including double binds)
• General statements with little sense of direction (e.g. I want more time off)
• Goals lacking times for completion (no deadlines)
• Goal statements with negative grammar (e.g. I don’t want a divorce)
• Goals with incongruent signals (I want X (while shaking the head “No”))
• Metaphors (e.g. I feel like I’m lost in a jungle and I can’t find a path to the village)
• Philosophy (e.g. Someone in my position should have already achieved goal X)
• Word salad (chaotic grammar and sentence structure)
The next step, of course, includes ways to respond appropriately to them. But, before we go there, let me elaborate some terms that I used here:
By Double Binds I refer to paradoxical interpersonal communication. A double bind statement contains internal contradictions. If the addressed person cannot withdraw from the situation, that person cannot decide which message is real and (if young) may develop pathologies.
Double binds may be explicit (e.g. a teacher communicates to a student “I will punish you to improve your education!“) or implicit (e.g. a manager says to an employee “I know that even you can complete this task!” while curling his upper lip). If the addressed person cannot recognize and dissolve double binds, relationship chaos often results.
Some stated goals have a similar structure to double-binds: for example the stated goal may have two or more objects and one verb, (e.g. “I want to be married and happy and …“). If these wishes are believed to be incompatible, any attempts or planning to fulfill a double-wish will likely fail.
By Double Wishes I refer to poorly defined goals that contain internal contradictions. If a person cannot decide which message is true, the person may object to their own goals – or withdraw from the coaching relationship. They may be disappointed that they cannot fulfill their own goals, and delay or miss opportunities for happiness.
I evaluate double goals by first noticing whether any verbal or non-verbal incongruence indicates simultaneous conflict or sequential conflict, and whether a client displays signs of conflict when changing goal polarity. Although a client may state a goal – the underlying goal is often at an existential or identity level, to discover “What is important to me?” or “What sort of person am I?”
Many people avoid unpleasant feelings and inner conflict by focusing on abstract goals (e.g. “I want to be happy“) … we often say that an abstract goal is, “the skin of a goal stuffed with conflict“.
A client may find two or more conflicting possibilities. A well-formed outcomebecomes possible if the definition of the goal can fully incorporate the values of all sides or parts of the conflict, or following an internal change of reference that rejects unwanted influences. In our systemic diagnosis, we often refer to identity level influences as relationship bonds.
Sequential conflicts can be fascinating … and irritating. Someone can never make up their mind, and if they do make a decision, they may either participate half-heartedly – or for a limited time.
I check the time between polarity changes of a sequential conflict … is it short-cycle or long-cycle? For me, short cycle is less than a few days, while long-cycle is over a week. This is useful information for anticipating a person’s change of heart. I can plan for it … and plan my response. (I find that this greatly decreases my irritation about people who break promises etc).
When you choose a goal or solution, you choose the consequences of that goal or solution.
While we hope for clear answers to the question, “What do you want?” we really don’t expect them. Goal questions seem to stress many people. Nobody wants to appear stupid, and people are often scared of asking for too little… or too much.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.