Irrationality and the fear of change : Is that why you refuse information?

“You have to turn ethnography inward and learn how your peers and leaders make decisions before you try to use data to influence those decisions.” Erika Hall

Reading the quoted article on Medium about research I came across the above 2 lines, and they took me straight to the day, THAT DAY.

My boss was old, he was always angry, intimidating and he sat behind his beautiful, huge old oak wooden desk. I had recently turned 23, straight out of NYU grad school, I thought I was really great; he didn’t.

THAT DAY, I marched to his office, I decided to be a lion, and I suggested a more efficient process for working, pointing to all the very logical steps we could take to improve. He glared at me, he signaled that I had no idea what I was talking about and dismissed me disrespectfully. With my tail between my legs, the lion went to the bathroom and shed some cat tears. I quit a week later.

THAT DAY, I did not deal with my perceived irrational boss, I simply escaped the situation by quitting. Now when I think back, he wasn’t irrational, he was actually scared of change, he didn’t understand what I was talking about, so he forcefully ejected me and my thoughts out of his “ I’ve been doing it my way for 30 years and its been working” office.

So how do we deal with irrationality? That which is usually driven by multiple levels of cognitive dissonance in one person. When providing information will most likely not be strong enough a reason for them to change their mind, we end up discovering that people are picky about their rationality, and their beliefs, and it is up to us to identify possible entry points.

Lebanon, a rather nuanced country with suggested democracy, has political elites who are keen to remain in their positions by fueling generational sectarian divides among the public. Those policy makers, from a public good perspective are irrational, but from an interest based perspective are quite the opposite. So one might understand that change in policy is going to be limited to interest serving decisions. Their irrationality towards the country’s public good is a symptom of their fear to lose their positions.

BUT, then there is a layer beneath that of the elitist policy maker, and that is the “wanna be” elitist business man, teacher, architect, engineer, doctor…taxi driver and the list goes on. It is quite remarkable to operate within a culturally accepted virtue of irrationality.

How do you deal with a person who operates in a low income household, who has little access to healthcare and education but thinks that changing his/her car is the top priority in their life? Irrational perhaps, but addressing other priorities will require a change (a huge one in the general system).

How do you deal with a group of people who request change in a political system but refuse to believe that their own appointed leaders are corrupt, just because they chose them? Irrational perhaps, but addressing corruption will require a change in process and strategy, many might lose momentum.

People are avert to change in most of its forms. Rationality sometimes leads one to a single solution to problem (x) and that is to CHANGE BEHAVIOR. So the issue is no longer about how correct or incorrect the approach to thinking is, logic is devalued not because it makes no sense, but because if person (x) is to follow it then it will require CHANGE.

CHANGE has many haters, and to mention a few: it costs money, it costs time, it costs conflict, it costs discomfort, it costs effort, it costs failure and learning, and it costs belief systems. And most people would rather turn the other way, take the easier route, the familiar one.

Change is eventually devalued by its own cost.

So how do we deal with irrationality?

We must determine what is the driving fear of the person’s refusal of a certain piece of information, and it could be as simple as: it sounds true enough to make me appear wrong, so I will dismiss it because I am never wrong, especially on matters like this. END POINT

3 replies on “Irrationality and the fear of change : Is that why you refuse information?”

Thank you 🙂

I would say keep at it, write constantly, stay real with your content, as you already are, and the right readers will find you when you use your tags right 🙂

I’ll keep an eye on your blog of course, see you already are doing it right!


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