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Human Behavior: 5 Things Every Writer Needs to Know

You’re sitting in church and the woman in front of you is letting her kids run wild in the pews.

You smile, nod, and try to make a snide expression — hoping she’ll pick up on it and take them to the nursery.

She doesn’t.

You vow to give her a piece of your mind when church is over.

“They’re a handful, aren’t they?” you remark as you all rise after the closing hymn.

“Yeah. They’ve been in the car for an hour on the way to church. Their dad is at work, and I’ve got them all to myself.”

You bite your tongue and decide it’s best to keep your advice to yourself.

“It’s great to have you here,” you reply, hoping she’ll feel welcome. There’s nothing worse than a grouch at church.

The Ugly Truth

I was raised by a perfectionist.

I could complain about it. But now that I’m a parent with kids that are old enough to be adults, I know how hard it is to parent well.

You want the best for your kids. So you try and try and try to make them into something great. When they’re young, force works some of the time — but not much of the time.

The Book of Proverbs advises:

“Raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Did you notice something about that sentence?

If you’re a normal, naturally-selfish person, I’ll bet you missed it.

The sentence doesn’t say, “Raise up a child in the way you want him to go.”

As parents, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Raise him in the way HE should go.

How do you figure that out?

Follow these five principles and you’ll have more influence not only with your kids, but with anyone.

1) People are what they choose to be.

I listened to Zig Ziglar Saturday while mowing grass.

He told me that for most of his adult life he chose to weigh 245 pounds.


“I never accidentally ate anything. And the more I ate, the more I chose to weigh.”

You could apply this to just about anything.

You’re tired after work because you choose not to exercise and build stamina.

You’re hooked on cigarettes because you see yourself as a smoker.

You don’t save much money because you choose to spend it all instead.

Actions always have consequences.

Now let’s see why you can’t convince someone to change.

Actions always have consequences. Click To Tweet

2) People hate to be told they’re wrong.

Dale Carnegie said we are creatures bristling with pride.

We need to feel we are right to feel secure. Otherwise, we’d never leave the house.

When someone tells you you’re wrong, it hurts. It’s an attack against your sense of security. So you resist. You justify yourself.

Even if the other person has good intentions and wants to help, you don’t want to hear it. When your pride is hurt, your ears shut off.

If you want to get anywhere, don’t tell people they are wrong.

3) People don’t change until the pain of remaining the same exceeds the pain of change.

Tony Robbins says we do everything based on two factors:

  • We want to get pleasure.
  • We want to avoid pain.

You can see this in your own life, can’t you?

You’re nice to your spouse because you feel good when he or she is happy.

You don’t drive 100 mph in a school zone because you don’t want to go to jail.

You work out because you enjoy the way you feel afterward.

Everyone operates this way. If you can frame your requests based on getting pleasure and avoiding pain, you won’t have to force anyone to do anything.

If you want to get anywhere, don’t tell people they are wrong. Click To Tweet

4) People sometimes believe what they are told, but they never doubt what they conclude.

This quote from Blair Warren is behind what people think about everything.

When you believe something, it is ultimately because you convinced yourself.

We feel good when we have life figured out. We take pride in our own intelligence. When we are right, we feel strong.

5) People work best from strength.

Have you ever tried to teach a pig to sing?

You can try all the latest techniques.

You can give the pig a motivational speech that rivals one from Zig Ziglar.

You can promise him a reward if he’ll just sing a bar of your favorite song.

All that effort might work on people. But the pig won’t sing.

Birds fly. Fish swim. Pigs eat slop.

It’s what they do.

You can’t make someone do something he’s not suited for. Find his strength and amplify it. He’ll be happier. His improvement will be bigger. And he’ll be stronger longer.

Have you ever tried to teach a pig to sing? Click To Tweet

Now Do This

You’ve just completed a short course in people skills that will revolutionize your life.

Zig Ziglar sums it up in this sentence:

You can have everything in life you want if you’ll help enough other people get what they want.

Remember and apply all these principles and you’ll be more influential than ever.

Like what you read here? Clap so others will see this and become better persuaders!

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Originally published at on July 19, 2017.




Opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees.

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Frank McKinley

Frank McKinley

I like to figure things out and share what I find. My favorite topics are faith, communication, business, and personal growth.

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