003 Deliberate Practice Because Practice Makes... What?
This is Dr. Tori. Welcome to the Influence Every Day show where we make every day better and we influence for good. One of the things about influence, communication, rapport is that we tend to wing it. And this is one of our big deficiencies. It's actually the main reason I created things like the Influence Playbook and many of the courses that are offered. It's because too often we are just winging it. We're going with the flow rather than deliberate practice. So I want to talk to you about actions and how we learn things and how we develop habits and to make sure that we're doing that in the best of ways.
Many of you have heard of the conscious competence matrix. Let's talk about it.
We are unconsciously incompetent at doing things when we are unaware of their relevance and we don't know how to do them. We're not aware of them or we're not aware of their relevance typically, and we don't know how to perform them or how to do them. So a good example of that is, let's say a 13-year-old child who does not know how to drive. They don't really see the relevance of it yet. But when they start to become 14, or 15, they start to see the relevance because their friends are going out. Their friends have a certain amount of freedom with their driving. What happens is there's a period of discovery where they go from not really recognizing something's relevance to discovering why it's important or why it's valuable.
There's a similar experience if somebody is a year and a half, two years old, or three years old, and they don't yet know how to tie their shoes. As they start to get a little older, they see all the kids running out the door without waiting for mommy or daddy or a sibling or a babysitter to tie their shoes before they go running out with everybody else. Then they discover it's relevance.
You go from unconsciously incompetent. You don't know how to do it and you're not aware of its relevance. You discover its relevance. You become conscious of its relevance. Therefore, you're consciously incompetent. You're aware that it's important. You're aware that it's valuable. But you still do not yet know how to do it. So discovery leads to that.
Now, from here, from being consciously incompetent at something, then there's a period of learning. Imagine you're learning to drive, right? A parent, a sibling, a friend, or somebody that already has some driving skills will teach the consciously incompetent person. And so through a period of learning, they become consciously competent. Consciously competent - They're aware of its relevance and they know how to do it. But they have to pay close attention to doing it. They have to focus on the activity in order to perform it.
You go from Unconscious incompetence. You discover the relevance. You become consciously incompetent. You learn. And then you become consciously competent.
Now, here's where many people mess up. They fail to realize or optimize the next step, which is practice. Practice is what makes us unconsciously competent. We know its relevance. We don't even have to think about its relevance anymore. And also, we don't even have to think about actually doing the activity. It's built-in. It's baked into our neurons because our neurons have put a myelin sheath around themselves to make the action more efficient. The more we practice, the more efficient we become at doing the thing. So eventually you reach a point where you don't have to focus on driving and shifting and looking at the mirrors and doing this, you're just doing it automatically. And automaticity comes after practice, practice, practice, practice.
Now, why is all of this important? Well, it's important for several reasons. First is that this flow, this pattern is how we develop our habits. It's how we develop our skills and level up. Right. When it comes to things like influence and persuasion, rapport, and body language. You know they're relevant because you're listening to this podcast. Perhaps you're consciously incompetent. You want to learn how to do them. And so that's why you're here. Or perhaps, you know, a little bit. But you want to practice and you want to refine and you want to get better at it.
Well, here's the thing. The practice portion is really, really, really important, because if you practice the wrong thing, you become automatic at the wrong thing. You think about people like Shaquille O'Neal or Ben Simmons. These are famous basketball players who they've been at the foul line multiple times, like thousands of times. I would guess certainly more than anyone listening to this and probably more than all of the people listening to this combined. They've shot more foul shots. But why were they awful in foul shooting? Because they didn't practice the right behavior. They practiced the wrong or less optimal behavior. They practiced a way of doing it that was less efficient, less correct, and/or less repeatable. This is part of the importance of coaches, by the way, to have deliberate practice. Make sure you're learning from somebody who knows what they're doing.
I know somebody who counsels people on his own outside. He's not a social worker or he's not a therapist, a psychologist or doesn't have any training in it. But he happened to be somebody that people came to in the community. So he kept doing this counseling. And at one point, I came to be in charge of an organization, and he was representing himself as being part of that organization out there, counseling people with family problems, psych, and relationship problems, all kinds of things. As I told him, "You know, you can't do that." And he said, "I've been doing this for 35 years." And I was like, "That doesn't mean you're doing it well. That doesn't mean you're qualified." Just because you've been doing something doesn't mean you're doing it well.
Another major component of all this is that the best leaders, the best teachers, the best parents, etc understand what it's like to be in all four of these quadrants. They understand. They have cognitive empathy, meaning they can reflect and put themselves in someone else's shoes in a different quadrant. So that person that's unconsciously incompetent, the mother or the sibling or somebody that's sort of encouraging the child to learn, might say, oh, you know, when you're big, you can put on your shoes yourself and go outside all by yourself. They start to encourage the discovery portion, right? They remember or they can sort of imagine, empathize, put themselves in the shoes of somebody who is in the unconsciously incompetent place and start to move them to the consciously incompetent place by helping them discover the relevance.
And likewise, if you have cognitive empathy for what it's like to know that something's relevant but not know how to do it, to be scared, to be nervous, to be nervous to take that first step, that cognitive empathy is required to get somebody into the car, start driving. And then once they start learning to drive, then they're consciously competent and you're teaching them to drive.
If you remember what it's like to be consciously competent at driving, where you have to focus on every little thing, you have to think about putting the car in drive. You have to think about holding the brake while you put it in the drive and look in the rearview mirror and adjust the mirrors before you get going and all that stuff. They have to think about every little step. If you can remember that or put yourselves in their shoes for that moment, then you are a better teacher. Why? You're more patient. You understand where it's coming from. If you have cognitive empathy for that space, you can also help them get to the unconscious competence by helping them practice. Give them the tips. Remember what it's like to learn and fumble and then practice and fumble. And finally you refine the behavior. If you can remember that, if you can be that cognitive empathic leader or parent or friend, then you are better at that teaching.
The thing is, people tend to say practice makes perfect. And when you look at this conscious competence model, you know that is not true. Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Practice makes near-permanent. What happens is we have mirror neurons, so we model other people's behavior. We lay myelin to make nerve conduction more efficient. We bake in the behavior so that it becomes automatic. You know, a skilled player, whether it's a player of music or a player of a sport or somebody who is really good at public speaking, they're up there doing stuff that they've done multiple times over, and they've refined the activity, they've refined the action, and therefore it appears to be something that is seamless. They're in a flow state. They get into that flow state because they've practiced deliberately. Practice, in general, makes permanent. Deliberate practice makes perfect.
How do you practice influence? Persuasion, rapport, body language, engagement, behavior change? How do you practice it? Everyday situations. So let's say you're standing around with a few friends and maybe somebody you don't really know very well, and they make an inappropriate joke. They make a joke about something sexist or racist or culturally insensitive or whatever, and it just doesn't vibe with you or the other participants. Well, you can take that moment as a moment to practice. One thing you can practice is looking for discomfort. Look around at the other people instead of looking at the person and giving them this like, you know, socially required sort of thing where you smile back and like, ha ha ha, well, don't give them that pleasure, especially if it's inappropriate. Just don't do that. Instead, take that as an opportunity to look at other people. And when you see other people, you'll see that they're uncomfortable, too. And then you'll get to see what uncomfortable looks like. And you'll see it in that person, that person, that person. You'll recognize that they're all slightly different, but there are common themes and you can get better at detecting discomfort.
The same thing goes. Excitement. Shock. Rapport. Pay attention to people when there's rapport. Pay attention to it. Turn your attention to whatever the common situation is. And by the way, you can improve your skills at influence and rapport and persuasion if you have a shared language. And that's one of the benefits of learning courses like this and reading books like Dr. Robert Cialdini and the other books from like Grenny and others where they written about Change Aything and Influencer. Vanessa Van Edwards, her book. Cues and her other book Captivate. You know, there are so many people out there who have written books that are worth reading. Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath. The Power of Moments by the same authors. These books help you get the language of behavior change, the language of influence, and the language of rapport. Sometimes just by naming something, you see it better. So this is an important element of practice, is exposure to the language and using the language.
To be coached through common situations is even better if you can get a coach, whether it's through your employer. Sometimes they offer them for leadership coaches or things like that. There are career coaches, there are financial coaches, and there are communication coaches. It's something that I do - I do executive coaching for people who want to do really well at home and at work. And so essentially I help them with communication. The thing you learn at home is the same. It's the same strategy, just a slightly different tweak to what it is at work and vice versa. I coach people through that. You can get coaches for life, coaches for all kinds of things. Just look it up and don't think this is some woo-woo thing.
The best athletes on planet Earth. The Olympians, right. They all have coaches and the ones who have fired their coaches right before the Olympics because they thought, "I know how to do this. This person doesn't even do this. I'm the one who knows." Those who have fired their coaches have failed miserably time and time again. But coaches are required by even the best athletes on earth. The same thing goes for this. If you want to get really good at communication, if you're going on an interview, find somebody who offers mock interviews. Practice, practice with a coach.
I would recommend that you take some of these lessons and write them down. After you have an interaction with somebody, go back and journal or write it down on a sticky or do something, write it down somewhere, and take note of it. I personally use mind maps, right? So I document everything into a mind map. So if I'm hanging out with friends and I notice something about rapport or something about when everyone laughed and then a few people didn't. I'll take note of it and try to learn from it. Influence and communication. That's my thing, right? So that's, that's what I geek out on. But the point is, if you want to get good at anything, take notes, learn, observe, practice, and have deliberate practice. Deliberate practice with a coach is ideal. By the way, I wanted to point this out. This whole model of how we go from not knowing a thing, not knowing how to do the thing, not knowing its relevance to discovering a relevance to learning how to do the behavior and then deliberate practice is how we get good at it. Thank you for joining me. I'll see you in the next episode.
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