How to Exit the Hamster Wheel of Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance—the discomfort that comes from holding two competing beliefs—can create a stall or standstill for your coaching clients.

It might show up in forms such as…

> A client who wants a career in the arts but has family/spouse/parents who are pushing for medicine/engineering, and yet the client wants to honor these people
> A client who knows he/she should be networking, but doesn’t make time for it
> A client who wants to work for Apple or Amazon or Goldman Sachs, yet doesn’t have the experience/competencies/GMAT to compete.

From a coaching standpoint, it’s important to stay curious and compassionate, and first observe the dissonance, such as:

> “The tension is there…you are leaning toward x career yet want to honor your parents.”
> “I get it…you know that networking is important yet how to find the time isn’t totally clear yet.”
> “It’s like it’s not adding up…you want X, while the recruiters want Y (a GMAT score of…).”

After naming the tension and getting some input from the client, follow with action strategies:

> “Let’s talk about how to reconcile that.”
> “Let’s explore some ways to make that happen / take control.”
> “Let’s strategize on how to lessen that gap / create a bridge-job plan.”

This helps the client to take steps to reconcile the dissonance and exit the hamster wheel!

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