Allowing The Emotional Learning Curve

Success and failure
Life’s failures are the strongest teachers to our success.

When things look or feel expensive, we have a natural emotional reaction. The emotions can range from anxiety to fear to excitement depending on our experiences.

If you are not used to buying or understanding the value of professional services, for example, then you may react to a proposal with dismay or sticker shock.

A scenario which often takes place is that a prospective client will try their hand elsewhere or on their own on something that is both difficult and fraught with challenges and obstacles. If the problems take a lot of time and money, then the learning curve becomes steep and instructive.

Keeping Relationships Open And Allowing For Failure

This kind of behavior between a novice and an expert is nothing new. It happens quite frequently because the true cost of something intangible often has to be experienced rather than explained. There has to be an allowance for failure. Here is why:

  • Personal experience and failure, while most painful, gets the point across to a person
  • People are generally not good listeners
  • We all believe we can do something on our own if we just try hard enough
  • There is more conviction after personal failure and experience than a theoretical conversation

Think about how children learn. We can tell them not to do something or to go a certain way, but ultimately, their own experiments and firsthand failure teaches them. They discover the world and much about themselves through the process. It can be painful for a parent who is trying to manage against failure, but the cycles only become longer and the temptations greater for the curious child.

Likewise, grown adults behave with the same instincts. Yes, there are a few wise people, but they tend to be the exception than the rule, thus the exhortations from wisdom literature and motivational speeches.

The best thing to do if you offer something that is intangible and hard to explain is to keep the door open so that when failure does happen, the relationship can be open and free.

The dynamics of what I am speaking about are happening more frequently because of the illusion of access. Prospective customers are confusing access with knowledge. They think that because they can access tools, people or information, that they can solve every problem.

What they fail to recognize is that it still takes talent and view of the big picture. It takes someone who has failed much more than they are willing to and has learned the interrelationships between all the parts of a problem. Yes, there are mundane projects and tasks that can give the illusion that most problems are easy. However, that is not the case when it comes to complex systems or ventures that require insight and mastery.

So if you have special knowledge, remember to leave room for failure. The uneducated and naive will have to go down this journey for themselves. The key is to keep the door open and allow the emotional learning curve to make the impact that will help prove your point without shame or reluctance.

What have you found working with people’s emotional learning curve?

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