15. Dissonance

Change is usually why our clients come to us.

The process of change most definitely will include dissonance.

Dissonance is “a state of unrest and needing completion”.

It is the difference between our old life and our new life, and the tension in between until the transition is complete

When we are changing an old way of thinking and replacing it with a new way of thinking, the old way of thinking will have more evidence to support it and the new way of thinking will have the momentum.

This will create cognitive dissonance.  Two thoughts competing create tension.  We are wired to have a motivational desire to reduce dissonance and when thoughts are brand new the tenancy is to go back to our “old” way of thinking.

If you can prepare your clients (and yourself) for this, it makes the process easier and more understandable.

In addition, there is “thought-action dissonance” that is very similar.   When we or our clients try to take action without changing the thoughts driving the alternative action-there will be tremendous tension and struggle.

The thought is conflicting with the action and something has to give.

If your client is unaware of the thought driving the “old” action-the new action will have no traction and the dissonance will only be tolerable temporarily. This is why “new behaviors” are often times very temporary. (Not a lack of willpower as many clients might believe.)

Dissonance is part of coaching.  Make sure you understand it and can recognize it.