Dear Expert, no, you’re not.

As I write this post, I’m trying to think of a title that doesn’t involve swearing of some kind. The best I can come up with is – “Dear Experts, piss off.” That’s harsh. It is the exact sentiment I wish to convey though.

One of my followers has decided to call themself an expert in helping people change their behaviour. I do hope they read this post as it will be interesting to see how they respond. This is simply self promotion at its worst and brings my profession into serious disrepute.

Let me run down my credentials. I’m an avid student of psychology and have been since the age of 16 – that’s 17 years in the making. Learning and development has been my career choice for the last 8 years. I have run coaching sessions, delivered team workshops, facilitated management meetings, and regularly attend external events to see what’s happening in the industry.

Let me be more specific about instances. I have helped a handful of delegates truly change their behaviour. A handful. In 8 years of training, probably having delivered upwards of 300 training type events, with hundreds of delegates, a handful. And I can recall who they are, because of the work I had to do with them. Ok, maybe two hands full. But that’s still a pretty low hit rate.

I’m not playing down what I do, I just know how effective my involvement has been at certain times. But – and this is the key – even with those I helped, they only changed because they were willing to explore and carry out the change on their own. That certainly doesn’t make me an expert. It just makes me a facilitator.

And, we have to be careful we understand what we mean when we say someone has changed. If I argue with my wife about the way I left the dishes unwashed, I’ll change my behaviour for a while, but can pretty much guarantee it’ll happen again. That’s not change though. That’s just believing change has happened, when it really hasn’t.

Change only happens when a whole pattern of behaviour changes because that person has a profound understanding about something fundamental they need to change in their life. This does not happen on a daily basis. Certainly not regularly enough that said expert can make a living out of it. It is the kind of change which happens often independent of my or anyone else’s involvement or intervention. Where people are involved, it is because they have been sought out.

So, dear expert. Please take a long hard look at the way you promote yourself. You are not an expert on this topic. You can’t be. As I have said in various posts, you would have to be of the ilk of Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela to truly understand what it takes to change oneself. I have no faith you are capable of understanding this nor of actually being the one to help people change their behaviour.

I think the title has been moderated well, don’t you?

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Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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