“Because of” or might it be “in spite of”

It’s a lovely feeling when something goes as we would wish. Closing a deal: achieving a budget; exceeding our target; managing a team through a crisis and an infinite number of variations.


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Afterwards in a satisfied glow we can all be guilty of thinking “I behave this way, and I achieve results. Therefore I must be achieving results because I behave this way.” Whenever we enjoy a success of whatever kind though it is likely to be because of doing a lot of things right but it might also be in spite of some behaviours that defy common sense.

Hopefully good results in whatever arena may beneficially reinforce our “because of”behaviours. Less attractively they may also reinforce our “in spite of” behaviours and we can all end up confusing unattractive traits with our successes. Even worse we may believe that any success may be because of our behaviours and any failures may because of environmental factors beyond our control ignoring the fact that unattractive behaviours played a part.

Do any of us know salespeople who attribute closing deals to their pushy and belligerent sales tactics? Or managers who insist that their frosty silence and non-accessibility to direct reports is a controlled and calculated tactic to get people to think for themselves?

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance refers to the disconnect between what happens in our mind and reality. The more we are committed to believing that something is true the less likely we are to believe that its opposite is true, even in the face of clear evidence that shows we are wrong.

If we receive information which is inconsistent with our existing beliefs we become psychologically uncomfortable. To make us more comfortable we may ignore that information or perversely see it as confirmation of our existing beliefs.

For example it is likely that most of us work with a colleague where we have formed an opinion that they are a star/jerk. It doesn’t matter what that colleague says or does it will be seen through a prism that confirms they are a star/jerk.

What does this mean for you?

Look closely at yourself and see if you have any quirky or unattractive behaviours that have become a habit, or you see as an attractive feature you have, but which might be annoying to those with whom you work or spend your social time. Ask friends family or colleagues in an open non-defensive way what are your less attractive traits.

Ask yourself whether you think that behaviour is associated with good things that happened? Has it helped you to achieve results? Or is it one of those irrational beliefs most of us have that has been controlling our life for years? The former two are “because of” behaviours the latter “in spite of”.

If you wish to talk further about this call me on 07525 857389 or email me on ricbandrews@gmail.com


Who am I? A chap living in Nottingham, United Kingdom who perhaps has a much higher level of enthusiasm than ability leading to an interest in many things but mastery of none. A father of three no longer dependent children, or so they tell me, and husband to a one-time nurse who now works with me (or rather I work for). I attempt to take photographs and occasionally fluke half decent shots though thank goodness I no longer have to buy film. I endeavour to practice karate but with advancing years spend more time instructing them participating but actively participate in the more gentle tai chi. Professionally I have spent the last twenty years in recruitment – not always the most highly regarded ‘industry’. For my part I take great pleasure in helping companies to find the right people and a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them thrive and succeed. More recently I have spent a lot of time helping people who have, or fear they may, lose their jobs. For many putting a CV together is so difficult and then finding opportuniteis can be a major challenge. Interviews can be a different problem altogether but with a little help most people can perform a lot better than they otherwise would.

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