Maximize Your Influence

Methods of Protecting Mental Alignment

When we feel dissonance, we have to find a way to deal with the psychological tension. When the rubber band stretches, we cannot not live with this internal pressure.  We will instantly try to find a way to relieve this tension and reduce our dissonance. We have an arsenal of coping mechanisms at our disposal to help us return to cognitive balance. When you see your prospect exhibit one of these behaviors (except modify) you have stretched the rubber band too far and they have snapped.  The internal pressure was too much and they went down an easier or different path.  They will find another solution besides you.  The following list outlines different ways people seek to reduce dissonance.    

Denial—To eliminate the dissonance, you deny there is a problem. You do this either by ignoring or demeaning the source of the information. You could attack (usually verbally) the source – making it their fault. This is somebody else’s fault! You are not to blame. 

Reframing—You change your understanding or interpretation of the meaning, or what really happened. This leads you to either adjust your own thinking or devalue the importance of the whole issue, considering it unimportant altogether.

Search—You are determined to find a flaw in the other side's position, to discredit the source, and to seek social validation or evidence for your own viewpoint. You might attempt to convince the source (if available) of his error. You might also try to convince others you did the right thing.

Separation—You separate the beliefs that are in conflict. This compartmentalizes your cognitions, making it easier for you to ignore or even forget the discrepancy. In your mind, what happens in one area of your life (or someone else's) should not affect the other areas of your life.  Everyone else should do it, but it does not apply to me.

Rationalization—You find excuses for why the inconsistency is acceptable. You change your expectations or try to rationalize what happened. You also find reasons to justify your behavior or your beliefs.  You could say this is not a big deal because everyone is doing it.

Modification—You change your existing beliefs to achieve mental alignment. Most of the time this involves admitting you were wrong or off course and will make changes or adjustments to get back into alignment.

How about real life example?  You told your friend about your new year’s resolution.  You are committed to lose weight.  This will be your year and you enlist your friend to help.  Your friend commits to help you and you are off and running.  Fast forward one month and your friend has caught you polishing off a large container of ice cream.  They call you on your commitment and your rubber band stretches. You feel dissonance. How to do you handle this tension?


Denial – You are fatter than I am, why ride me – remember the time you did…..

Reframing- What I really meant was I will start my diet after I finish this big project.

Search - I researched exercise on the internet and found exercise actually hurts your knees and your health.

Separation – I meant to diet during summer for the beach.  It is winter now so I have time before I will start.

Rationalization - I had a salad for lunch and a meal replacement drink for breakfast, so I am way below my caloric intake.

Modification - You are right I am going to start right now.  Thanks for saying something.

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Category:general -- posted at: 2:58pm CST