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“Master the contents of Endless Referrals and you will practically GUARANTEE your future success.”

~ Tom Hopkins, Author, Master the Art of Selling

Those Self-Justifying Feelings

March 1st, 2013 by Bob Burg

those self-justifying feelingsIn Daniel Goleman’s classic, Emotional Intelligence, he writes:

“Feelings are self-justifying, with a set of perceptions and ‘proofs’ all their own.”

How true, isn’t it?

As human beings we tend to believe what we want to believe, based on our feelings. We then back up those emotion-based beliefs according to information congruent with what we want to believe in the first place. As for those pesky and inconvenient facts? Typically, they are pushed to the side so as not to interfere.

How very often do we see this in…others? πŸ˜‰

This is one reason why trying to “convince” (from the Latin, convincere meaning “to overcome”) someone with logic alone rarely works. When caught up in emotion, the person will unconsciously disregard any information that contradicts what they believe they already know and seek and accept only those info-bits in alignment with his/her emotional decision.

Before allowing themselves to consider another’s viewpoint, they must first “buy into” that person. Only then will their reactionary defense mechanism relax and they can be open to a new idea. Because they feel good (emotions), they will allow new information into their world.

We know we see this in others. But…”how often do we see this in ourselves?”

Do we need to first buy into the other person emotionally in order to accept the facts as they are β€” not necessarily as we’d like them to be? Or, are we able to stay conscious of our own unconscious desire to be right – and adjust our conclusions accordingly?

Anyone can be the first way. Those who are more personally and professionally effective and successful, constantly and consistently work on being the second way.

How do you do in this regard?

22 Responses to “Those Self-Justifying Feelings”
  1. Steve Keating said at 9:48 am on

    I sure wish I could say I always make logical decisions and choices. Unfortunately I have at times fallen into the “don’t confuse me with the facts” trap and the outcome is often less than I had hoped for.

    It’s just another reason to have people close to you who you allow to speak the truth to you. When you have people in your life who you trust and who care enough about you to tell you when you’re wrong your chances of falling into the “facts” trap goes way way down.

  2. Bob Burg said at 10:14 am on

    Steve: And, the same with me, my great friend. In my opinion, this is always and continually a work in progress. I KNOW it is for me. I’m just always happy when I catch myself in the act of “self-justifying” a thing based on what I already think I know and wish to believe. πŸ™‚ And, yes, your second paragraph is brilliant. So very important! Thank you for sharing with us, Steve!

  3. Bruno Coelho said at 10:01 am on

    Hi Bob!

    This is the very thing that prevents people to grow and lead at a higher level.

    Our mind has no growth limit… unless we believe otherwise!

    If we’re always learning from the sources that confirm our initial beliefs, how will we grow?

    It all comes down to the fundamental reason why we are discussing with each other: a) is it a contest to see who wins the argument by proving everybody else wrong OR b) is it an opportunity to consider different points of view and new evidence that can shed more light into our learning journey and make us grow in the process?

    Most days, I don’t learn anything new just talking to myself. That’s why I try to seize every opportunity I can to talk with (not *to*) others about what I want to learn.

    If it has to be a winner in a discussion, then let it be the one who came out of the discussion better (with more knowledge and more able to grow and live a meaningful Life) than before. Isn’t it like your definition of win-win in business, Bob?

    Next time you caught yourself in a heated discussion, remember that Life isn’t about winning or losing.

    Life is about a learning journey about how you can make a meaningful difference in the World. Everybody can teach us how we can do that, if we’re ready to listen to them with open hears, open mind and an open Heart.

    When you adopt this mindset, you will naturally start listening intentively and curiously to what they are saying.

    You’re doing this not because it’s a good tactic that makes them feel great about themselves but because you’re genuinely curious to find out what drives that person.

    You’re not just waiting for your turn to talk or your opportunity to prove them wrong but to understand their fears, beliefs and concerns. Wasn’t this the way that Zig Ziglar taught the difference between Price and Cost?

    “Are you concerned about the Cost or is it the Price that you’re concerned about?”

    He didn’t say: “Here’s how you’re wrong! See how our cost is sooooo much lower than our competition? Do you really want to do the WRONG decision?”

    Of course not!

    Zig knew that it wasn’t about being right or wrong. It wasn’t about winning or losing the sale. It was about helping people win for a life-time. “Price is a one-time thing” he said, but his mission to help others become magnificent was a lifetime-thing!

    That’s why learning from him had such a low cost: the wisdom that he shared will be with us and it will make a meaningful impact, in our lives and in the lives of others, for a life-time!

  4. Bob Burg said at 10:05 am on

    Thank you, Bruno. Always appreciate you sharing with us, my friend!

  5. HeatherO said at 11:55 am on

    “But, I AM right!” πŸ™‚
    Great points and very thought provoking (as always:)

  6. Kumar Gauraw said at 12:05 pm on

    Excellent post. Thank you for sharing.
    Speaking of the impact of feelings and to the Bruno’s commentary, I agree. However, it is also true otherwise.
    There have been many success stories where people disregarded all rationalization and went ahead with an emotional dream having no support, having no resources or not even any roadmap. But simply because the dream was so close to their heart, the feelings were so strong, they found their way on the way and made it happen – made it happen big.

    From the point of understanding how we think and make our decisions – there is no question, this is it. This is how we decide. We first decide and then find the logic to justify. This understanding is tremendously helpful while dealing with people.

    But when it comes to how it impact us and our potential, I believe our self-esteem has more to do with that aspect. Our feelings, our emotions are generated based on how we think and that is altogether another subject area, isn’t it Bob?


  7. Bob Burg said at 12:16 pm on

    HeatherO: Of course you are. I never had any doubt! πŸ˜‰

  8. Bob Burg said at 12:22 pm on

    Kumar: Regarding what you said about self-esteem, I think the greater the self-esteem we have, the greater the chances are that we will question the way we do things and be open to a better, more effective way. Regarding your final sentence, that is very related to the previous post and others regarding our “Belief Systems.” Thank you for sharing with us, as always!

  9. Kumar Gauraw said at 1:39 pm on

    Thank you for clarifying, Bob. Appreciate you taking time to provide insights with each comment. Again, I can’t leave today without saying, “You are Awesome!” πŸ™‚

  10. Love Love this Post LOL… I just did a show about this – We Discussed is it Criticism or Feedback- and We got into Your Last post on Emotion-Thought – Thought- Feeling etc…
    And Yes we have ALL had our Meltdowns. At the end of the day if we all were open enough to see what our OWN triggers were and then to NOT react from a trigger yet to remain as OPEN as possible to all points of view we could learn something from everyone, even ourselves… When we are soo determined to be right we loose the opportunity to learn from so many people… We loose opportunities on so many levels – friendships, business, experiences +++ Thanks for another thought provoking post…

  11. Bob Burg said at 2:48 pm on

    Kumar: Thank you. You, as well! πŸ™‚

  12. Bob Burg said at 2:50 pm on

    Thank YOU, Carly. Love knowing I’m part of your conversations. πŸ˜‰

  13. Valarie Cooper said at 3:06 pm on

    You always have two options: you can agree with me, or you can be wrong. πŸ™‚

  14. Bob Burg said at 3:12 pm on

    Valarie: Those sound like two excellent and very viable options to me! πŸ™‚

  15. Sergey said at 11:03 pm on

    Such a wonderful statement! Unless one Stops at the Feeling! You feel? Good! Stop right there! In the midst of temptation to think, to develop an intent, to act… use the Will and Stop! Just Feel! (wasn’t that what Bruce Lee has suggested? Don’t think! Feeeeeel!!! πŸ˜‰ ) What is the purpose of bypassing the thinking process? Then we are not trapped in our system of beliefs, which is So Easily Influenced! Then there is no need to Justify, Analyze, Judge, Criticize… Then – a correct action will arise from a feeling. Proof? Practice! πŸ™‚

  16. TAR said at 12:39 am on

    A person can tell a manager the truth and he will not listen because he thinks what he knows is right and it is bot. People are to arrogant to stop to listen.

  17. Wayne McEvilly said at 4:06 pm on

    As always, solid gold.
    As a person with a life-long feeling-based consciousness I have come rather late to being grateful for those persons in my life who will tell me when it is time to apply the brakes and start again with a clear look at the facts. Impatience with evidence is not a virtue.
    Your post provides food for thought about thought. Thank you.

  18. Bob Burg said at 9:08 am on

    Sergey: Thank you for sharing with us!

  19. Bob Burg said at 9:11 am on

    TAR: Such characteristics are all-too-common, I’m afraid. That’s one reason for this blog; so that we can all learn from each other. Fortunately, not all managers are like the one you described, just as all people are not all the same. Thank you for sharing with us!

  20. Bob Burg said at 9:12 am on

    Wayne: So well-said, my friend. Thank you for sharing part of yourself and your wisdom with us!

  21. Your book “Winning Without Intimidation” was the one that showed and taught me the importance of a “win-win” situation, Bob. I come from martial art culture, so I wasn’t so far from this notion, but in daily life it’s sometimes difficult to apply the principles of Aikido, because you may have difficulties when it comes to metaphors. But since then, I try to create a win-win situation for every and any argument in my life. And the thumb rule of creating a win-win situation is to respect yourself (first, because you can’t respect others really without you respect yourself), and then to respect the other person, so it’s essential to remember it’s not being right what matters, but getting a powerful and positive for everyone involved as much as possible.

  22. Bob Burg said at 9:10 am on

    Selim: Thank you for your very kind compliment. Very appreciated, my friend. And, I believe you were the person who translated the book into the Turkish-Language edition. Thank you for that, as well. And, of course, thank you for sharing your wisdom with us!

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