December 9, 2011
Get your mind out of the gutter. :)
I learned about this concept (actually it is a biological fact) years ago and it has had significant impact on choices I make in business and how I advise others. I’ve shared this distinction with no less than 4 people already this week and it seems to be the common theme.
The long form is reciprocal co-ontogenic structural coupling. The short of it is – if you hang out with a person or set of persons, you become more like them and they become more like you. Remember this is a biological fact.
- You adopt one another’s language. If they swear; you swear, or want to anyway. You talk smack about everyone; they will begin to talk smack. They are highly collaborative; you will become more collaborative.
- You adopt one another’s mannerisms. If they all tend to sit forward in meetings; you will sit forward in meetings. If they roll their eyes regularly, you will begin to do the same.
- You adopt one another’s practices. If they show up 10 minutes early for meetings, you will begin to show up for meetings early. If they all answer the phone in a clipped tone, you will begin to do so as well.
It is absolutely amazing what happens to your basic business choices when you start to realize what impact these adaptations can have on your career/life in general. Of course recognizing who you are hanging out with and making assessments of, whether you want to be more like them is a long-term story and also requires commitment and intention should you make a choice that requires change on your part. It’s very easy to take a new job and find out the people you are working with are positively amazing and then choose to stay. You just put your nose down and start working, right?
What happens if you realize your customers are all crass, ethically and morally base people? You want to couple with that? What happens to your business when you become crass, ethically and morally base? What happens to your family!!!? I personally would choose to get out!! That’s not easy. Huge shift and takes a great deal of commitment. It may require you start a whole new business. It may require you move your family into a teepee on the side of a mountain for a couple years. Really big changes. That’s not easy.
So what are you coupling with? Who are you that people are coupling with?