In earlier posts this year, I’ve encouraged us all to try a different way of communicating. I’ve mentioned Choice Theory and promised I would tell more about it later. While I’m no expert -- there are those who have studied long and practiced Choice Theory with clients for many years -- I can offer a simplistic explanation.
It all boils down to the fact that the only person whose behavior we can control is our own. All the rest -- the advising, “should-ing”, ordering, pleading, conversing -- is providing information. We can tell people what they ought to do, what we think is best for them, what we want and what we want them to do about it. But we can’t control what they choose to do.
Information or stimuli don’t make us behave in a certain way. Information is not in control of us. We choose our behavior based on the information we receive, our perception of it, and our belief that someone or something else can control our behavior.
The doorbell rings (stimulus). We have choices: 1) open the door 2) don’t answer the door. Many think responding to a ringing doorbell is a must-do. After all, it is RINGING! It’s summoning us; someone is here to see us. But, that doorbell is merely providing information: someone is at the door. We choose whether we want to open it, see who is there, and deal with them. On rare occasions, we decide we don’t want to be bothered by whomever it is, so we ignore the doorbell. Other times, we have prior information or may want to satisfy our curiosity, which influence our choice to open the door.
People will choose to behave in the way that best gets their needs met. In other words, they, we, all of us, are internally motivated. Our behavior choice is our attempt to take control of what is happening, with regard to what we want to be happening.
So, yes, our perceptions and behaviors are much more complex than this little explanation shows. But the idea of choosing our behavior to satisfy our needs and wants and bring us closer to the folks in our lives is fascinating. And, the practice is satisfying. I invite you to keep an open mind, do your own further investigation of William Glasser's Choice Theory, and try out some of the principles to see the positive difference they make in your life.