For the next three or four posts, let’s look at examples of how we use models in more depth. After each example I’ll describe the lessons it teaches.
We’ll start with an example we’re all familiar with: someone told you they’d call Monday. By Friday, no call. It’s happened in your professional and personal life — maybe to schedule a sales pitch, maybe for a date.
As the days pass without word, you wonder why they haven’t called. With no new information explaining their behavior, you create a model that could apply. That model leads to a strategy. By strategy i don’t mean something as formal as, say, chess strategy where you plot your actions based on their actions. I mean you plan to do what you think best — the same as ever — but what you think best depends on your model.
Here are three of many possible models you might conceive, the strategies they lead to, and how you might behave when you finally do talk to them.
|They don’t care about you||Not to care about them either
||“If you don’t like me, I don’t like you!“|
|They care but are busy with unavoidable emergencies||Empathize||“Sounds like you’re busy too. Tell me about it.“|
|You’re too busy to worry||Handle your affairs||“Oh, that’s right, I forgot. What’s up?“|
You’ve probably picked one of these beliefs on occasion, consciously or not. People who don’t realize we create models often confuse their beliefs with reality, leading them to act on their strategies without thinking about it.
Note that these models can reinforce themselves, erroneously making them seem correct afterward. Say you believed the person didn’t care about you, but unknown to you they did. Your communicating “If you don’t like me I don’t like you!” may prompt them to switch from caring about you to resenting you, perhaps responding, “Well let’s not get together then, jerk.”
Likewise, if they intended to blow you off but you believed they cared and, unexpectedly for them, graciously and patiently responded thoughtfully, they might find you someone they like, change their tune, and start caring about you.
In both cases you might feel justified in your belief, however unfounded. But feeling right doesn’t mean being right. It just meant your strategy, in that case, perpetuated itself.
I don’t mean to imply using models is good, bad, right, or wrong. We can’t help using them. For now I’m demonstrating how they work. Knowing how they work lets you use them to improve your life, which the Method shows how to do consistently, reliably, and predictably.
Anyway, let’s look at what this example showed us about models in general.
Models and beliefs
- influence our perception and decisions whether we evaluate them or not
- they do so inevitably
- they lead to strategies
- we often have little justification for them.