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Universal Human Tendencies

Our tendencies are what we routinely or habitually do without much thought or self-awareness, leading to both intended and unintended consequences. They dictate the way that we react to events when we are not paying attention, and set the stage for our behavior during unexpected or challenging situations.

Our approach empowers individuals to transform situations by building skills and awareness around five such universal, socially-based tendencies that are a part of our shared evolutionary and cultural heritage. They are our default mode for good reasons, as these tendencies are normally helpful and adaptive. Yet, when we find ourselves in challenging or stressful situations, uncritically relying on these tendencies can limit our options, hold us back, and lead to poor decision-making.  They can also divert our attention away from important aspects of what is going on immediately around us – our social environment and the psychological dynamics that govern the various situations we encounter on a daily basis. These powerfully influential dynamics are so pervasive that they affect us all, but can be hard to spot without training, and thus are “hidden in plain view.”  That is the bad news.

But there is good news.  Recent research in social and educational psychology has uncovered tools and techniques we can put to good use in understanding and changing our reactions to these social forces.  These tools can help us to loosen the grip of our unconscious tendencies and can free us up to exercise leadership and help us to be a positive influence in such situations and in the lives of the people around us.

These tools are accessible, easy to master, and simple to understand. They can be used effectively, even in the most challenging and stressful situations. They can also help lead us into a greater state of awareness, especially our ability to see into the hidden social influences that can help or hinder effective decision making.

Here are five universal social tendencies that characterize our unique approach, as well as some of the consequences of relying on them uncritically in challenging situations (click on each to learn more):

Tendency #1: to react automatically to the things we are not paying close attention to

Tendency #2: to rely on labels and categories in making judgments about ourselves and others

Tendency #3: to depend on those around us for our own interpretation of what’s going on

Tendency #4: to seek acceptance and avoid rejection

Tendency #5: to assume that certain aspects of ourselves and others can’t be changed