Dramatic Reinforcement

Here’s a problem with the human condition: we view ourselves as cold, rational, logical, and decision-making beings like Dr. Spock, when in reality we’re irrational and emotional beings much closer to emulating a high-functioning pleasure-seeking monkey. (We’re apes, not monkeys, but you get the gist.)
mmmmm...pleasure apes
mmmmm…pleasure apes
Sure, this is a spectrum—some folks are more rational and less emotional than others. But we’re all irrational emotional at some level. We all also want to be seen and acknowledged. It’s basic humanity.   Dramatic reinforcement during our coaching helps us plug in to all of this humanity and help people foster progress. It also helps us best impact our clients’ memories so that they can replicate the movements we’re teaching them.   Below, in no particular order, are dramatic reinforcement strategies that work. Here’s the deal—they’re like a tools in a toolbox, you pick the right one for the right job. Think on that as you read on.   Match, Plus One  41nem7zjnkl We have to consider the person in front of us, just as we do while using all other coaching tools. Dramatic reinforcement is a matter of the client’s perception. What one person perceives as a positive, fun experience is far too outlandish for other folks. Then there’s that whole vice versa thing. Keeping this in mind, we have to meet folks at their level for our dramatic reinforcement to be perceived positively. Quieter folks need less rah-rah, extreme extroverts need some noise and palpable excitement. So, we meet people at their level, and then go one notch above to make the interaction an event.   Let’s set an excitement scale from 1-10—one being the least excited and ten being the most. And let’s also say you’re working with one of your more introverted clients, she comes in at a 3 on the excitement scale most of the time. To reinforce her dramatically, you come in at 4 after she does something successful. That way she has a positive interaction, feels seen, feels dramatic reinforcement, without being overwhelmed with too much sis-boom-bah!   The same process works for your folks higher up the scale. Have someone that lives at a 6? Reinforce them at a 7.   We’re not saying be disingenuous, do this in your own way. If you’re not a crazy asshole, don’t be one. But in your own manner, within the confines of your own personality, find a way to match your clients’ levels and then go one above to make the event dramatic.   Just consider the individual. What words will impact them? Does appropriate physical contact resonate with them? Is your tone fitting for the celebration and the person?   Celebrate Small Victories, They Accumulate  winners_kidsuperhero Consistency and momentum are the most impactful change drivers. Unfortunately, most of the time, they are dismissed while folks seek grandiosity and huge, one-time events or changes. And many times we reinforce this misplaced behavior by celebrating the big, visible changes without acknowledging all the small steps that actually created what we see.   To foster consistency and momentum, we need to celebrate the daily small hurdles our folks are jumping. Don’t be mistaken, we have to keep celebrating the milestones, that’s super important. But we must make the little things dramatically important so that the quantum leaps that people see can actually happen. We have to reinforce the behind the scenes work.   This is simple work. Comment on effort, congratulate folks on consistency, and celebrate every small improvement in technique. By celebrating the seemingly mundane and unimportant aspects of training we help folks accumulate, compound, and create the goal-achieving changes our people work for.   When we do celebrate the big hurdles, we celebrate them appropriately.   The Best Thing That Happened Today/The PR Board/What Has This Done for You  15259739_843627925740269_4492335518147722616_o On the wall, adjacent to the entrance at BSP NOVA, is a rectangle, chalkboard-paint table called The Best Thing That Happened Today board. At the end of each shift, morning and afternoon, the coaches recount the last few hours in search of the great things that happened. After the chat, the most noteworthy and positive thing that happened during the shift is written on the board.   On the wall directly in front of the strength training area is the PR board. It’s also a chalkboard paint rectangle, and every time a member sets a PR during the month they write their name, and the milestone reached, on the board.   In front of the consultation office there’s one more chalkboard paint rectangle. This one asks clients, What has training at BSP done for you? On this board folks write up things they’ve done in their every day lives that they wouldn’t have achieved without training. Some folks list that they’ve been overcoming poor health markers due to chronic autoimmune disease. Others tell silly stories about sprinting from terminal to terminal to catch a flight.   All of these boards dramatically reinforce positive change. On the Best Thing That Happened board clients are acknowledged for their achievements by their coaches. The other two boards allow the clients to ring their own victory bell and shout, “Good for fucking me!”   Combine all three and you have an environment full of visual representations of change brought about by positive action. Dramatic reminders that reinforce all of the effort expended toward worthy outcomes.   You don’t have to run out and paint your walls in chalkboard paint and let people write on them. But it’s not a bad idea. Reality is you just need ways besides talking to let people know they’re kicking ass. If you can find a way to make that resonate throughout your environment, do that.   You could send out cards.   You could send follow-up emails after people do rad shit.   You could use a private Facebook group to celebrate successes together.   There are millions of options. You know the ones that suit you, your people, and your environment. Choose them and do something with them.   Continually, Dramatically, Reinforce   Be cognizant of who’s in front of you and give them an experience that they’d perceive as positive and affirming. Continually celebrate the little steps that take us from point A to point B. Celebrate the big shit appropriately, by making it seem appropriately big.You’ll connect with people humanly, emotionally. You’ll help them remember what they’re doing right. You’ll help them remember why they chose to train with you.

In 2010, two dudes Chris and Todd, started the business that would eventually become Strength Faction.

You know how they say the rest is history? Well, it’s not.

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