Pain vs Change

Some of you noticed that my website was missing for a few days this month. This was due to an ‘issue’ with my web hosting provider. Why am I telling you this in a blog about NLP, change and learning, you might ask. Well, I’ve been with the same web hosting provider for about six years. The first four years were good. Then things started to go downhill. The last year has been a customer services nightmare.

I realise that this pattern has now become widespread, with many large companies investing in new customers to the extent that existing business is largely neglected. Customer support has gone from bad to worse to utterly intolerable in many cases. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories, yet that seems to be just a drop in the ocean.

Why do we put up with this? How can companies operate, or even prosper under such conditions? The answer may surprise you. Our basic drives are being exploited.

Which drives exactly? Famously, Virginia Satir (one of the original experts modelled with NLP) said that our strongest drive was for familiarity. It’s there in the language – “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” is just one example. Think of the idea of a ‘comfort zone’ too – it describes the range of behaviours and situations in which we are comfortable. Largely, we are most comfortable with the familiar and the known. Conversely we tend to be uncomfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.

Changing from one company to another is often painful too. It requires effort, the exploration of new options and (most recently) substantial amounts of paperwork and time. Think about it. How much effort would it take for you to move to a new bank, mortgage or telephone provider, for example?

We often only move from the familiar when the situation reaches a breaking point. This is defined as the point when the pain of staying where you are becomes significantly greater than the pain of undergoing a change.

You may also have sunk costs – you may have spent time, invested money or developed systems that rely on staying exactly where you are. Many people focus on these costs and stay stuck. However, this is faulty thinking. If you focus on the full costs – how much more it could cost you to stay where you are in the long term and compare that to the full costs of change, the truth becomes apparent.

It’s best to notice the trends and have a way of creating the positive change before you reach the breaking point, though. The NLP-trained are well-equipped to apply their awareness and skills toward this purpose. How?

I set the boundaries for my decisions and contacted the web hosting provider with a simple request and achievable deadlines for fulfilment. This created the context for a clear and comfortable change. Their response was to merely close the support request.

So I changed my web hosting provider last week and moved nine sites to a new company. It wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as I’d been led to believe and I have a better, well-supported service for substantially less cost.

Many people would wonder at this point why they had left it so long to change. Yet you and I know the answer and that allows us to do things differently in future.

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