I remember an episode of the Dr. Phil show that has stuck with me for a long, long time. It had to do with effective communication. And since my work as a motivational speaker is all about the quality of our communication (with ourselves and others), I kept this one in my brain pan for easy access.
At Dr. Phil’s request, eight couples in the audience volunteered to do an exercise. Facing each other, one person stood while the other one sat in their seat. Phil told the standing person that they were to get their partner to stand up by simply saying, “Stand up.” That’s all they could say. No force, no physical action – simply the words, “stand up.”
The sitting person was instructed thus: Stand up when you feel like it. Once they stood, then both people were to sit down.
To work they went. Almost everyone got their partner to stand either immediately, or soon thereafter. After about one minute, there was one couple left. The man was standing and the woman was sitting. The camera focused in on him.
“Stand up.” He commanded. She didn’t move.
“Stand up.” He said again, a little firmer. Still, no movement on her part.
One eyebrow lifted and his eyes narrowed as he, once again, commanded, “Stand up!” She looked him directly in the eye, but didn’t budge.
Finally, Phil asked the man, “Sir, what’s going on?”
The man replied, “She’s not standing up!”
Phil asked the woman, “Why not?”
She responded, “I feel like he’s being demanding and rather rude. I don’t want to stand up.”
Phil then said to the man, “Sir – if you are not getting what you want – then why do you continue to do the same thing? Yes, you had to use the words, ‘stand up’, but why didn’t you change how you were saying it? Why didn’t you charm her with those words, or seduce her or have fun with her or cajole her – with those words. Why did you think that if you just kept on doing what you were already doing, but did it harder, then you’d get what you want?”
Phil’s bottom line was this: If you keep on doing what you’ve always done – you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always gotten! If it ain’t working – CHANGE YOUR APPROACH!!!
Good stuff, Dr. Phil. Good stuff.