How to change someone without them knowing

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why do people do what they do

When was the last time you had a hard time convincing someone to change?
Do you have a close person or a relative who refuses to change?
Do you face tremendous resistance each time you try to convince someone to change?

Almost every person resists any change attempts made by other people and that's why its sometimes really hard to change a person. This is why the best way to change others is to do so without letting them know that they are changing.

Before i tell you how to do this i first need to explain to you why do people do what they do. Sam had a strange habit of spending hours rearranging the items on his desk.

His wife has always been fighting with him to change his habits but her efforts yielded no results. Sam wasn't aware of the reason he developed that habit the only thing he was aware of is that he developed it as soon as he moved to his new job few years ago.

Sam was always the person who wanted to be in control of his life and because he was feeling in control in his old job he never felt the urge to control others or his environment.

But when he moved to his new job he failed to replicate his old work conditions and as a result he suffered from anxiety and intense worrying without understanding the reason. Sam's mind then directed his attention to controlling a small part of his environment, his desk in this case, in order to help him ease his anxiety and worrying.

How can a person change?

People stick to certain habits and behaviour because they need them in order to maintain psychological stability. Had Sam given up this habit he would have felt extremely anxious and worried once again.

A habit is a new block that fits into the missing space of the person's psyche in order to maintain its stability. Now in order for Sam to change he needs to work hard to feel in control again in his new job or even move to another one if making changes wasn't possible.

Now as you already know telling Sam to change won't yield any results. In addition, most people won't accept a detailed analysis of their personality and will firefly resist those who try to point out to them that their habbits are caused by insecurities or psychological problems.

How to change someone without them knowing

If Sam came across an article online that explained to him why he developed that habit then he might actually change while if someone sent him the same article then most probably he will resist the change. (see also Why its hard for people to change their beliefs)

People always prefer to find the clues themselves instead of being accused of having behaviour problems. This is why the best way to help a person is to direct his attention to these clues in a subtle way and let him figure out the whole story himself.

Once a person believes that he is the one who discovered his behaviour problems then certainly he will want to change. Imagine a cheater or a player discovering that the cause of his behaviour is lack of self esteem and the need of approval? Won't he feel like changing? Certainly yes provided that he is the one who discovers these facts instead of being told about them.

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