stick-figure-light-bulbWe live our lives with continuous stimulation – on-demand access to movies, articles, social media, friends, TikTok, books, games and music. With all possible, all the time, how can we hear ourselves think long enough for new and creative ideas to emerge?

I don’t know about you, but my mental commotion from a week of stress causes interminable noise coming from where my ideas should be. And given I’m a thinker, writer and inventor, hearing myself think is fundamental.

I’ve tried freeing up an hour or two during a week to sit quietly in hopes of hearing my creative voice, but that wasn’t sufficient. I needed a broader time span free of the stimulations involved with daily living. And given my schedule, the only time I had available was weekends.

My solution: weekends of boredom.

I now spend at least two weekends a month alone and off-line – off-line, as in no phone, no (on-line) social activity, no computers, and no email. Hence, weekends of doing nothing. A friend said “I would be bored out of my mind!” Precisely.

Do I like being bored? Not particularly. It’s not necessarily fun: sometimes I’m jumping out of my skin and must force myself to not call a friend. But if I can wait it out, I’m on my way to something unimaginable.


Here’s my Idea Generating Action Plan for a weekend: during the week before my empty weekend, I stimulate my mind with gobs of fresh ideas (reading voraciously, listening to interviews of interesting people on NPR, watching documentaries). Early on Saturday and Sunday mornings I walk 3 miles to stimulate my physical side; to recruit my spiritual, juicy, non-intellectual side, I listen to classical music and meditate.

This all sets the stage for my process: Saturdays I go through hell. My brain is jumping all around, remembering things I haven’t finished, people I’m annoyed with, clamoring for me to get to the computer. But I can’t! It’s vital that I feel all my frustrations in order to let them go. Otherwise, there’s nowhere for new thinking to emerge. If it gets really bad I either listen to more music or go for another walk.

By Sunday morning I hear silence and am ready to do nothing. To sit quietly and be bored. I sit. And sit. And walk. And listen to music. And sit. And then, on Sunday afternoon, just before I am ready to exterminate myself, the magic happens. The ideas begin to flow.

New ideas. Surprising ideas. Interesting ideas. Stupid ideas. I don’t judge. I just write them all down. This past weekend I began sketching out an Advanced Listening Coaching program (based on my book What?) to help coaches and leaders hear clients without bias, or assumptions. First thing Monday I connected with two coaching schools who may have interest in collaborating. I’m not always this successful. But sometimes I am. Sometimes I plot out a new course, or draft an article, or come up with new ideas for clients. I never know what’s going to show up. But it’s always something I may not have considered without those empty days.



Boredom as a route to creativity is not for everyone. But I think many of us need something extreme to have the space to listen to ourselves, to have a block of time to clear our brain and silence our Internal Dialogue to enable our unique ideas to emerge. Some folks do this by going for a long run, or swim a mile or two. New ideas do emerge for me at the gym, but the inspirational ones – the hidden ones – come only after space and silence appear.

How do you listen to yourself? What are you listening for when you listen? Do you allow the time and space for an opening that enables emerging ideas? Ask yourself these questions, then ask the big one: What would you need to consider to be willing to take the time to hear yourself without barriers and literally brainstorm with yourself?

Try it. At least once – at least when an important meeting is coming up and you want to shine. Spend a weekend alone somewhere in the countryside, with no texting, no email, no telephone, no TV, no people. Nothin’. Then allow yourself to go a bit crazy. The initial silence might be a relief. But by the time you’re jumping out of your skin, you might end up hearing a very creative voice inside. Maybe not. Maybe you will have wasted a weekend and will email me to tell me I’m nuts. But just maybe, you’ll hear yourself come up with the new, new thing. If you do, you can give me an attribution.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

June 17th, 2024

Posted In: Listening


A friend of mine delivers leadership training in police departments. On the first morning he has the partners dance with each other, taking turns for an hour at a time as Leader and Follower. As most of them are men, they start off very uncomfortable when they must be the ‘follower’. But follow they must; he tells them if they can’t follow, they can’t lead.

As Leaders with specific goals we’re responsible for, we operate from the assumption we’re in charge. But what, exactly, are we in charge of? I believe our job as Leaders is to be the sentries, to facilitate our Followers to discover their best outcomes and help them set a path to a successful goal. As they say in Argentine Tango, if you notice the leader, he’s not doing his job.


Leaders often begin with a plan, an idea, a fantasy if you will, of how to achieve an outcome, and then work at creating and driving the path to execute it. But this strategy faces several problems:

  1. We have no way of knowing beforehand if it could succeed.
  2. By not gathering ideas from everyone, we can’t know if we have the full fact pattern, or if any of the Follower’s ideas would make the outcome even better.
  3. Advocating our own ideas, with our own beliefs and assumptions, we have no way of knowing how our Followers will interpret our plan given their own beliefs, experiences and assumptions.
  4. We run the risk of pushback and resistance when we try to implement with folks who haven’t been included.

Even with an aim to be inclusive, we too often try to persuade Follwers to adopt the path we imagine. This route might yield resistance at best; at worst, it not only restricts the full range of possible outcomes, but runs the risk of causing hostility and sabotage.


During the 2020 election I heard Presidential Candidate and Senator Amy Klobuchar say: “I haven’t gone on TV for interviews much before now. But my team told me I needed the exposure. So here I am.” Obviously, she’s the Leader AND the Follower.

When Leaders rely on their own assumptions, ideas, and expertise, it’s difficult to achieve an optimal result: until Followers are included and develop their own vision, using their ideas, knowledge, values and voices; until the group discovers a path through their own group dynamics; until the group works collaboratively to develop creative outcomes that they can all buy into, the outcome will be restricted.

So here’s the question: do you want to facilitate a route through to the best result? Or drive the path to the result you’ve imagined? You can’t do both.

  • What would you need to believe differently to trust you can achieve the best outcome if it’s driven by the Followers?
  • What is a Leader’s role if the Followers are in charge of the route to a successful outcome?

I believe that leading and following are two sides of the same coin. And I believe it must be an interdependent process.


I once trained a group of executive Leaders at a company with a reputation of having values. They were the most manipulative group I’ve ever trained. Getting them to consider any form of leadership that didn’t involve them having total control was a herculean task. Seeing my frustration one of them said: “But our message is values-based. Of COURSE it’s our job to convince them to do it our way! It’s the RIGHT way.” Having a great outcome does not give license to push our agendas to get it done OUR way.

As Leaders, we must give up our egos, our needs for control, our perceived value of being ‘right’, of being The One to exert power and influence. We obviously need to have some sort of control given we’ve got a job to do. But control over what?

There are two components to our job: 1. formulating a goal, and 2. getting there. We cannot do it alone: success cannot be achieved without the good will, the buy-in, and passionate involvement of the Followers.

To work collaboratively with Followers to formulate a goal, help define their process of getting there, then oversee the journey, a Leader

  • controls the space that enables all voices to be heard, giving rise to a complete data set, creativity, buy-in, collaboration, and mutual responsibility for planning and delivery;
  • leads the group through forming, failure, discovery and confusion, trials and success;
  • guides the group through the route they designed and helps them maintain equilibrium.

Here I’m reminded of another great Argentine Tango expression: The Leader opens the door; the Follower dances through using her own unique steps; the leader follows.


I contend that as Leaders we must assure results, but hand over the creation of the journey – the behavior changes, the activity, the buy-in, the creation of new rules and norms – to the Followers.

Let’s look at the two components, the goal and the route, from a systems perspective.

If leading a team through an initiative to enhance customer service, for example, the Leader is responsible for ending up with happier customers and supervising the journey to get there, while the Followers are responsible for

  • the route taken to get there,
  • the choice of the components of the new services,
  • what these services will do, the planning during the change and ultimate buy-in, and the rules that will maintain them,
  • ensuring buy-in and collaboration from the team,
  • what each team member will do,
  • how it will be delivered.

Unfortunately, leaders too often try to control both the goal and the journey. But I suggest we separate the functions. Our job is to maintain the rules, criteria, tone and vision; the job of the Followers is to make it happen.

When Followers control the journey they create a collaboration amongst themselves, develop behaviors and outcomes, and take ownership of the journey to success. The Leader then maintains the space the Followers created.


I’d like to share a story of my own journey as an entrepreneur of a tech start up in London in 1983. I began with no knowledge of business and even less of technology (Those were early days, remember?). I was smart enough to know my range of content knowledge – nil. So I wrote an outline of what I wanted to achieve:

  • a company that would take great care of the needs of customers in the area of 4th Generation Languages (Really early days!) with integrity, honesty, and win/win values;
  • be seen as a premier provider by charging high prices and great service expertise;
  • hire folks who will create out-of-the-box services that enhance what’s considered possible.
  • have staff be as happy and cared for as clients;
  • make money and have fun.

That was my goal. I had no idea what data I needed or what the journey would be. I did my best to research, speak with people, read a few books. Then I realized that it would be best if I hired good people who designed their own jobs.

My hiring process included asking applicants to bring in a P&L that included their salary and their vision of how they’d do the job. I hired those with the most creative ideas, and we ended up providing very unique and customer-driven programming, training, and consulting services, making us the most innovative company in our market.

The applicant for the job of receptionist was quite creative. Ann Marie wanted a small salary and a percentage of the gross income. For this, she would make sure the company ran efficiently and staff and clients would be thoroughly taken care of to the point they wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. Wow. I hired her. And she did exactly what she said.

She made us write these daily TOADs – I don’t remember what the acronym stood for…something like Take what you want And Destroy the rest… but it took us an extra hour each night to write them up (No computers in daily use in the early 80s, remember?). Each morning we had to read the full set of everyone’s TOADS on our desks when we arrived. They involved current initiatives, our frustrations, any good/bad issues with clients and prospects, any good/bad issues we had with each other.

As a result, all of us knew ‘everything’. If a phone would ring and the person wasn’t there to answer, anyone could answer it and be able to help. As the receptionist, Ann Marie would make every caller feel cared for and comfortable. Office squabbles and gossip didn’t have a way to fester. Team members became familiar with problems faced by colleagues and came up with creative solutions. We had the knowledge to introduce clients to each other for follow-on partnerships.

Frankly, Ann Marie terrified me. Tall, officious, unsmiling, we all did what she told us to do (Talk about leaders!). And she walked away with pockets full of money as she helped the business double each year.

I hired John as a ‘Make Nice Guy’ to bridge the divide between technical and people skills. He wanted a $100,000 salary (in 1985!) to make sure techies, their code, and how our contractors maintained relationships with the teams they worked with, all ran smoothly. That was a no brainer. And another role I hadn’t known I needed to hire for.

With John taking care of all outside stuff, I had no fires, no problems, no crashes, no personality issues, no client problems, and I could grow my business. He even found out when a client was buying new software that we could support well before it arrived on site; when the vendor came to install it, my folks were there waiting, well before the vendor tried to sell their services.

The team worked hard to get me to say “We’re doing WHAT??” I was once walking down the hall and ran into my Training Manager. When I asked where he’d been hiding since I hadn’t seen him in days, he told me he was busy scouting out extra office space for the new training programs being developed. “We’re doing WHAT??”

And fill the seats he did, bringing in new clients and new programs. Including me as a trainer. Apparently, the team believed I supervised techies so well as a non-techie that I should teach other non-techie managers how to supervise their techie staff. I would never have thought of that myself. So they got me to run monthly programs which were always packed.

As part of my commitment to creativity and growth, I told the management team to take risks but to let me know if a disaster was imminent at least three feet before they fell off the edge (If they waited until they were already off the cliff there wouldn’t be a thing I could do but wave). And they did. As a result they took risks, created out-of-the-box programs, processes, and initiatives that I could never have dreamed of. And they mostly got it right.

By setting a tone of authenticity, I regularly discussed my failures and got input from the team as to how to make things better. This obviously opened the door for us all to discuss failures as part of our job. Also by maintaining control of the values and integrity of communication and relationships, by trusting the staff and enabling them to be Leaders and innovators, I was able to double the company income every year.

As a start-up in a new field, with no computers, no internet, no email, no websites, we had a $5,000,000 revenue (and 42% net profit) within four years. Everyone made money, loved coming to work, and grew individually. We controlled 11% of the market (the other 26 competitors shared the other 89%), had loads of fun, and we changed the landscape of what was possible.


I could never, ever have been that successful if I hadn’t trusted my Followers to create their jobs in a way that met my values. I controlled the goal. They controlled the journey. Win/win. Interdependent. Trust. Respect. Their joke was that they were the ones with the brains, and I was the one with the mouth. Cool beans. I opened the door, they danced through it, and I followed.

Leadership is an interdependent process with Followers and Leaders working together from the inside and outside simultaneously to inspire trust and reach the best possible outcome. Here are the givens:

  • The process is always transforming and dynamic, rendering pockets of success, confusion and failure, creativity;
  • There’s no way to know until the end what the trip will include so it’s necessary to build in trust, collaboration, and openness;
  • The result will be what everyone wants. The process of getting there will be different from what the Leader envisaged;
  • The process will proceed according to the values, creativity, and needs of the Followers;
  • The Leader will be respected so long as s/he uses her/his power to shepherd the process;
  • Failure is part of the process and can be used to inspire creativity;
  • Resistance will be visible early and managed by group with no fallout;
  • The result will be the best amalgam of everyone involved bringing their values and hearts.

A real Leader enables their Followers to operate interdependently, using their own values, their own creativity, their own vision. As Leaders we must stop trying to exert influence over the entire process and begin trusting Followers to lead us.


If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know that I always include a ‘how’ so readers can use the ideas I espouse. In this case, my suggestions will be a bit challenging: the necessary skills to implement this style of leadership includes rethinking and enhancing two skills we all believe we’re good at and take great pride in – our listening and our questioning.

The reality is that no matter how professional, how fair, how honorable, how impartial we believe ourselves to be, when we use our conventional questioning and listening skills there’s a high probability we’ll be (unconsciously, unwittingly, automatically) biased by our words, ideas, needs, beliefs, and history.

I’ve developed ways to listen and question that avert bias and indeed facilitate transformation and expanded possibility. I train these skills to leaders when I train in an organization.

As Leaders, our job is to facilitate a collaboration with our Followers to interdependently create a successful goal. It demands that Leaders enter with a different outcome, a different mindset, and a different tool kit. But it’s worth it. We’ll end up with the real power of spearheading harmony, integrity, creativity, and excellence. And have a greater success than we ever could have achieved alone.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

June 10th, 2024

Posted In: News


I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how hard ‘change’ is. Take heart! Change only seems hard because of the way we’re going about it. I’ve been developing systemic brain change models for decades and I’d like to offer my two cents to explain the reasons there’s so much unnecessary failure.

You see, for permanent change to occur (new habits, behaviors, decisions, change management initiatives) the brain must have new circuitry. Too often, current change management/ behavior change models focus on behavior change and omit making alterations to the brain circuits. But this fails: trying to change without generating the new brain circuitry to prompt it is like expecting your bike to ride itself without you peddling, then blaming the bike.


Because all actions (thoughts, behaviors, opinions, habits) are a result – an output – of instructions received from the brain, without modified instructions we continue doing the same thing and getting the same results. Unfortunately, using discipline or rational reasons to change don’t prompt new circuit configurations. Let me explain.

Behaviors are merely responses – the outward manifestation, or outputs – to signals sent from brain circuits. Speaking physiologically, there’s no way to change a behavior by merely trying to change a behavior: to get a different output, new behavior or choice, it’s necessary to go directly to the source (the brain) and make the changes in the circuits themselves or create new ones.

Current change models try to fix the symptom and ignore modifying the initiation point they emanate from.

My book HOW? details the mind-brain connection and how to construct the specific circuitry to generate the choice we desire.


In this article I’ll simply explain how our brains cause change, and why your attempts at permanent change aren’t more consistent.


Sadly, change gets a bad rap. Perceived wisdom believes that ‘change is hard’ and ‘no one likes change’ because of the resistance that results when behavior-based models are used. When approached from the brain, not so much.

We’re a culture dominated by the mind. Information. Data. Content. Stories. Facts. Our minds certainly need data to think with, to learn from and weight decisions with. But it becomes a problem when we want to make a change. You see, information – the mind – doesn’t cause change. Brains do.

We begin with a flawed assumption: we assume we can effect change because we desire it or work at it or provide ‘rational’ reasons for it. But when we neglect to involve the brain we fail: change is a brain thing; information is a mind thing. Changing the brain is the precursor to changing the mind.

The problem is our brain’s laziness. Because of the way our brains process data we end up with either short-lived change, no change, or resistance.


Instructing outputs is what brains do: there is nothing we see, hear, do, think or feel that hasn’t been instructed from our brains. We rely on our brains for everything – thoughts, understanding from books, behaviors and activities, colors, what we hear (sounds and words).

We forget this when seeking change. Using conventional change models – Behavior Modification, Cognitive Behavior Change – try to change with mind-based mastery like discipline, regulation, rational thinking, habit creation, practice, and training.

But without a new home, without new circuits to house new instructions, the mind has no way of carrying out our wishes. Attempts to change behaviors without reprogramming the brain will likely fail, regardless of dedication or will. The numbers concur: Organizational Development fails 97% of the time. Training fails to retain the new knowledge 90% of the time. Diets and smoking cessation fail 97% of the time. Sales fails 95% of the time. Even in our own lives: With all the discipline in the world, we have difficulty making behavior changes permanent. Keep weight off? Get organized? Hard to do. Why?

All behaviors, decisions, habits and choices are outputs, end products, generated from instructions sent from specific, historic circuit configurations in our brains.


Since so much of what we want to change is behavioral, let’s look at what a behavior is.

behavior, or any sort of action, thought or choice, is an output arising from a string of brain processes. My Morgenism is ‘A behavior is a Belief in action.’

Simply, the mind sends our brain a signal to ‘do something’ (an input) and the brain complies by sending the signals to a ‘similar-enough’ set of existing circuits that translate the request into instructions for some sort of output.

These signals are mechanical, electro-chemical, and automatic. No meaning or intent involved. Meaning and intent are mind things. Brains, comprised of 86 billion neurons and trillions of neural connections and synapses, are unconscious and just do what they’re told via signals; they don’t judge good/bad, right/wrong.

Here’s a simplified explanation of the string of events:

  • All incoming words, directions, ideas, promises, etc.
  • enter our brains as puffs of air (inputs without meaning!) and
  • get transformed into electro-chemical signals that
  • eventually get automatically dispatched to ‘similar-enough’ (historic, existing) circuits
  • for translation into action (outputs, such as new behaviors, decisions, ideas)
  • via our mind.

Again, there is no meaning, no intent, no thinking involved. Mechanical. Electro-chemical. Automatic. Take a look:

All this occurs in five one-hundreths of a second. So: behaviors are outputswithout inputs, no outputs can exist. Behaviors are a result, an end product of inputs and cannot be modified as such.


All outputs that emerge are specific to an existing circuit: the brain will always produce the same output when the same directives and thoughts are input. So a machine programmed (input) to make a chair will produce (output) the same chair each time. To make a table you must reprogram the machine.

Given there are billions of bits of data coming into our brains every second our mind ignores, overlooks, forgets, most of it. When we request an action that differs from the circuit that receives it, or make new requests that don’t have a circuit, we get resistance. It’s why we fail when we try to do something different. Without changing the input we’re trying to turn the chair into a table.

When our brains are asked to do something that they have no circuits to interpret we resist or fail or misunderstand: incoming instructions get lost in translation, misinterpretation, or assumption.

This is what happens when we decide to go on another diet for example: our brain references the existing DIET superhighway and we get the same results we got previously. Hence the 97% failure rate. We can force the behavior part for a while, and possibly even lose the weight, but we don’t have the circuits to maintain it.


For any action, any change, any new behavior, habit or choice, we need both the mind and the brain: The mind directs requests to, and carries out instructions from, the brain but doesn’t instigate the activity itself. Think of it like a car’s engine: you turn the car on (i.e. the mind) and it moves (the mind) but needs the engine (i.e. the brain) to make it work.

And herein lie the problem. Because our behaviors emerge from established circuits (called Superhighways) that have been created and sustained during our lifetime, we keep doing what we’ve always done regardless of any differences we desire: it’s how our circuitry is programmed. Obviously we’re limited to choices that embrace our unique histories and mental models and… here is the annoying part… maintains the status quo.

It rules our lives: We live around people of similar political beliefs; our friends share ideas and lifestyles similar to ours; what we read, the TV news we watch, where we take vacations, are largely similar to those in our sphere. Even our curiosity is restricted accordingly. Sadly, we either don’t notice unfamiliar content or have problems accepting ideas foreign to us.

But, in general, this works well for us and keeps us comfortable – until we want to do something ‘different’, or try to change/create a habit, or when we’re involved in a change management process in our companies that requires new activities.


And that brings up another item that causes us to fail: we seem to think there is something called ‘rational’ and we try to do ‘what’s right’. But there is no reality. Basically, our brains – yes, back to the culprit – make up our reality from the lives we’ve lived. As David Eagleman says in The Brain,

“..our picture of the external world isn’t necessarily an accurate representation. Our perception of reality has less to do with what’s happening out there, and more to do with what’s happening inside our brain.” [pg 40]

“Each of us has our own narrative and we have no reason not to believe it. Our brains are built on electrochemical signals that we interpret as our lives and experience… there’s no single version of reality. Each brain carries its own truth via billions of signals triggering chemical pulses and trillions of connections between neurons. [pg 73-74] [bold mine]

Indeed, everything we think, hear, decide, and choose is an output, an interpretation made by, and directed from our brains. We’re not in control.

So one last reminder: Since all activity is an output from directions our brains give our mind, you can’t change a behavior (mind) by trying to change a behavior (mind) as there are no accompanying brain circuits to generate new directives for new outputs.

Got it?


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

June 3rd, 2024

Posted In: Change Management

Super QuestionAlexa, Siri, Google, AI, and all programs that answer questions have mechanisms that determine the answers. If you’re like me, you largely assume they’re accurate, without knowing the reference material or checking further.

This sort of assumption is a normal reaction: in our daily lives we regularly pose questions to friends, colleagues, and clients about stuff we’re curious about, and receive responses we don’t check for accuracy or congruence.

But what is it, precisely, we’re assuming? I’d like to take a few moments and delve into the larger idea here: Have you ever wondered what a question actually is?

Conventionally, questions are posed to elicit a response, to gather data from a Responder, like “How many children do you have?” or “Why are you doing that?” Parents and spouses sometimes use questions to point out insufficiencies or annoyances, as in “Didn’t you notice the dishes haven’t been done?”

Sometimes we use them rhetorically to demand fairness in the world, like in “Why is this happening to me??” Sometimes questions are posed to elicit a specific response so the Asker can cause the Responder to admit something, like “Don’t you think there are better ways to do that?” Sometimes questions are deemed ‘closed’, like in, “What time is dinner?” Sometimes they’re ‘open’, like in, “What do you want to eat?”

But there is a unifying feature to all standard questions: they’re biased by the needs, words, and goals of the Asker. More specifically, questions:

  • are posed according to the curiosity, goals, assumptions, and intent of the Asker;
  • use words that limit responses to narrow interpretation;
  • get interpreted uniquely, according to a Responder’s historic, unconscious, world views and mental models;
  • potentially ignore more important and accurate information.

Of course, most of the time, conventional questions work just fine. How else could we find out how many acres there are at Machu Picchu, or which movie our spouse wants to see?

But I believe we are underutilizing questions. I believe it’s possible for questions to serve a higher purpose – to collect accurate data, of course, but also to help others discover their own answers and path to decision making and change.

What if it were possible to use questions to actually lead people through their unconscious discovery process to uncover their own best answers – without any bias from the Asker?


There’s a reason questions don’t necessarily unearth accurate data. Using words uniquely chosen to represent the needs and curiosity – the bias – of the Asker, standard questions extract only a portion of the available responses stored unconsciously in a Responder’s brain. Indeed, standard questions can end up being misunderstood or interpreted badly. There are several reasons for this.

      1. Information: because information is elicited as per the requirements of the Asker, a Responder’s real answers may not be captured. The wording, the request, the topic, the intent, the underlying assumptions, and/or the vocabulary may unwittingly offend, confuse, or annoy causing partial or inaccurate responses.
      2. Listening: words and meaning are merely our brain’s interpretations of sound waves that enter our ears through our historic neural pathways, guaranteeing we assign meaning according to our unconscious biases and history. Obviously, we might miss the intent of the question entirely. I wrote an entire book on this (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?). Given these natural biases, it’s likely that what we think we’ve heard is some degree different from the Asker’s intent.


3. Biased question formulation: Askers use words meant to elicit good data for a specific goal and outcome, but may not obtain the best, accurate, or truthful, responses. Sadly, it’s possible that higher quality answers could have been retrieved with a different wording or intent.

4. Restriction: questions restrict answers to the boundaries of the question. We cannot uncover data we never asked for, even if it’s available. We cannot elicit accurate data if the question is heard differently than intended.

Are you getting the point here? Questions have so many in-built biases, get translated as so mysteriously within a Responder’s brain, that it’s a miracle people communicate at all.

This is especially disturbing in coaching, healthcare, and leadership situations. Well-meaning professionals believe the ‘right’ question will uncover a truth from a Responder. Every coach and leader I’ve met deeply believes in their own knack – ‘intuition’ – for posing the ‘right’ question because they have a history of similar situations.

Yet we all have examples where these assumptions have proven false. Sometimes the Influencer doesn’t trust the Other to have the ‘right’ opinions or ideas; sometimes they pose questions that elicit incorrect data, or worded in a way that unwittingly creates resistance.

Sadly, when Responders share answers that prove unhelpful or inaccurate, Influencers blame them for being non-compliant. And worse, patients end up keeping bad habits, clients end up not making needed changes, buyers end up not getting what they need.


As someone who has thought deeply, and written, about the physiology of change and the neurology of decision making for decades, I began pondering this conundrum in the 1980s. I wondered if questions could be posed with no bias, no ego, no personal needs for a particular solution – only the trust that Others had their own answers and merely had to discover them inside themselves.

What if healthcare professionals asked questions that triggered patients to positive, immediate habit change, or coaches knew the exact questions that enabled new habit formation and behavior generation? What if scientists and consultants could elicit the most accurate information? And imagine if it were possible for questions to help sellers and advertisers actually inspire action to generate Buyer Readiness.

What if a question could be worded in a specific way to act as a GPS to lead a Responder through a sequence in their brain to make it possible to discover the full set of criteria to make a decision from and a permanent change without resistance?


I’ve invented a new form of question that addresses the above problems. But before I introduce it I’d like you to consider your own willingness to do go beyond your habitual questioning patterns: What would you need to know or believe differently to be willing to add a new skill to your toolkit? Because the hardest bit is to change the mindset of the questioner.

To achieve more consistent, helpful, and permanent results, Askers must begin by changing their criteria from having answers to being facilitators and trust that the Other has their own answers and not assume they possessed the solutions.

I actually thought about this for 10 years as I tried to figure out how words could uncover exactly where in the brain answers reside. I eventually came up with a new form of question I labeled a Facilitative Question. With a goal of helping Others consciously enter their unconscious brains, they use

      • specific words, in a specific order to go to the most appropriate memory channel to enable discovery without resistance;
      • no bias from an Asker’s curiosity or need;
      • a very specific route to specific memory storage circuits that avoid sparking defense or resistance.

Facilitative Questions (FQs) help Responders uncover their own criteria, beliefs, and mental models to find their own unique answers within their existing neural circuitry – great for permanent behavior change and decision making. With these questions, prospective buyers can be led through change and buying stagescoaching clients can discover their own path to resistance-free change; doctors can elicit behavior change in patients rather than push to try to cause change; and advertisers can trigger interactive responses to normally one-sided push messages.

Conventional questions keep Responders in a very small, idiosyncratic, and personal response range. And while the Asker is most likely attempting to elicit a response, they are out of control. FQs actually define the parameters and give Askers real control.


Here’s a few industries that could benefit from FQs.

      1. Healthcare: Intake forms that create an interactive doc/patient experience from the start: What would you need to see from us to know we’re on your team and ready to serve you? [This FQ automatically creates a WE space between patient and provider.] Doctors could lead people to how they’d create new habits for health: What has stopped you from being able to exercise regularly until now? What would you need to know or believe differently to be able to add regular walking to your weekly schedule?
      2. Advertising, for an ad for a Porsche, for example: How would you know when it was time to buy yourself a luxury car? [This FQ makes the ad interactive and gives a reader time to reflect on personal change.]
      3. SalesWhat has stopped you until now from resolving your issue using your own resources? [This FQ enables potential buyers to look at how they’ve gone about solving a problem on their own – necessary before realizing they can’t fix the problem themselves and might need to buy something.]
      4. CoachingWhat would you need to see or believe differently to be willing to consider new choices in the places where your habitual choices are more limited? [This FQ gives clients an observer viewpoint, thus circumventing blame, to notice old habits/patterns, and limits viewing to the exact historic behaviors that may not be effective.]

These can be used in advertising and marketing campaigns; healthcare apps that sit on top of Behavior Mod apps and facilitate new habit formation; AI where apps or robots need to understand the route to change and decision making. I’ve been teaching it in sales with my Buying Facilitation® model for 40 years and companies such as DuPont teach how to use them with farmers; Senior Partners at KPMG use it with client consulting; Safelight Auto Glass uses it to compete against other distributors; and Kaiser Permanente uses it to engage seniors needed supplemental insurance, to name a few.

If anyone would like to learn the HOW of formulating Facilitative Questions, I developed a primer in a FQ learning accelerator. Or we can work together to develop or test a new initiative. Given how broadly my own clients have used these questions, I’m eager to work with folks who seek to truly serve their client base.

By enabling Others to discover their own unconscious path we not only help them find their own best answers but act as Servant Leaders to decision making.

      • What would you need to know or believe differently to be willing to add a new questioning technique to your already superb questioning skills?
      • How would you know that adding a new skill set would be worth the time/effort/cost to make you – and your clients – even more successful?

Should you wish to add the ability to use questions as a way to truly serve others, let me know.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

May 27th, 2024

Posted In: Communication

listening-3Do you enter conversations to listen for what will confirm your assumptions? Do you assume the responses to your questions provide an accurate representation of the full fact pattern from which to base follow-on questions? Do you assume your history of similar topics topics gives you a more elevated understanding of what your Communication Partners (CPs) mean?

If any of the above are true, you’re biasing your conversation. By entering conversations with assumptions and personal goals, and listening through your historic, unconscious filters, you unwittingly direct conversations to what you expect to hear and may miss a more optimal outcome. But it’s not your fault.


The most surprising takeaway from my year of research for my book (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?) on closing the gap between what’s said and what’s heard was learning how little of what we think we hear is unbiased, or even accurate. Indeed, it’s pretty rare for us to hear precisely what another intends us to hear: our brains don’t allow us to.


Our brains listen through our existing neural circuitry, reducing our ability to accurately translate what’s been said to what we already know, leaving us unaware there might be a misunderstanding regardless of how carefully we listen.

Here’s a simplified explanation of how brains listen. Sound actually enters our ears as meaningless sound vibrations which become electrochemical signals that are dispatched to a similar-enough synapse. Unfortunately, whatever doesn’t match exactly gets deleted. We’re left assuming that what we think we’ve ‘heard’ is accurate even though there’s a good chance it’s not.

So your CP might say ABC and your brain tells you they said ABL without even mentioning it omitted D, E, F, etc. I once lost a business partner because he ‘heard’ me say X when three of us confirmed I said Y. “I was right here! Why are you all lying to me! I KNOW she said that!” And he walked out in a self-generated rage. This makes it tough for any communication where mutual understanding is so important.

Indeed, as outsiders – as sellers, leaders, or influencers of any kind – with different beliefs/values, backgrounds, etc., and entering conversations with our own goals and unconscious biases, we end up unintentionally misunderstanding, mistranslating, or mishearing, but believe what we think we’ve heard is true. In other words, our natural inability to hear accurately causes us miscommunication and flawed understanding. Not to mention lost business and lost relationships.

Net net, we unwittingly base our conversation, questions, and intuitive responses on an assumption of what we think has been said, and succeed only with those whose biases match our own. [Note: for those who want to manage this problem, I’ve developed a work-around in Chapter 6 of What?)


I want to go back to the problems incurred by entering conversations with personal biases:

  1. by biasing the framework of the conversation to the goals we wish to achieve, we overlook alternative, congruent outcomes. Sellers, coaches, leaders, and managers often enter conversations with personal expectations and goals rather than collaboratively setting a viable frame and together discovering possibility.
  2. by listening only for what we’re (consciously or unconsciously) focused on hearing, we overlook a broader range of possible outcomes. Sellers, negotiators, leaders, help desk professionals, and coaches often miss real opportunities to promote agreement and discovery.

Here are some ideas to help you create conversations that avoid restriction:

  1. As an influencer, shift your goal from information gathering (for you) to facilitating the route to change (for them).
  2. Enter each conversation with a willingness to serve the greater good within the bounds of what you have to offer, rather than meet a specific outcome. Any expectations or goals limit outcomes.
  3. Enter with a blank brain, as a neutral navigator, servant leader, change facilitator.
  4. Trust that your CP has her own answers. Your job is to help her find them, as they are often unconscious. This is particularly hard for influencers who believe they have ‘the answers’. (And yes, all influencers, sellers, leaders, negotiators, and coaches are guilty of this.) I’ve written an article to specifically address this.
  5. Your biased questions will only extract biased answers. Use questions that make their journey to discovery more efficient, like “What has stopped you from making the change before now?”. [Note: I’ve developed Facilitative Questions that lead folks through their unconscious thinking patterns.]
  6. Enable Others to discover their own route to Excellence rather than attempt to influence a specific behavior you might deem important.
  7. Get rid of your ego, your need to be right or smart or have the answers. Until your CP finds a way to recognize their own unconscious issues, and design congruent change that matches their idiosyncratic ‘givens’, you aren’t helpful regardless of how much you know.

By listening with an ear that hears avenues to serve, to understand what’s been said without unconscious bias, you can truly serve your Communication Partner.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at 

May 20th, 2024

Posted In: Listening

With untold millions of sales professionals in the world, sellers play a role in any economy. As the intermediary between clients and providers, sales can be a spiritual practice, with sellers becoming true facilitators and Servant Leaders (and close more sales).

The current sales model, directed at placing solutions and seeking folks with ‘need’,  closes 5% – only those ready to buy at point of contact. Sadly, this ignores the possibility of facilitating and serving the 80% of folks on route to becoming buyers and not yet ready.

Until people have tried, and failed, to fix their problem themselves, understood and managed the risk and disruption that a new solution might cause their environment,  they aren’t buyers. It’s only when they:

  • know how to manage the risk of bringing in something new,
  • can’t fix the problem themselves,
  • get buy-in from whomever will touch the final solution,
  • understand that the cost of bringing in something new is lower than the cost of maintaining the status quo,

will they self-identify as buyers and be ready to buy.

Indeed: buying is a risk/change management problem before it’s a solution choice issue, regardless of the need or the efficacy of the solution. All potential buyers must go through this process anyway – and the sales model doesn’t help.


People don’t want to buy anything; they merely seek to resolve a problem at the least ‘cost’ (risk) to their system. Even if folks eventually need a seller’s solution, until they understand how to manage the change a new solution would generate, they won’t heed our outreach, regardless of their need or the efficacy of the solution. As a result, sellers with worthwhile solutions end up wasting a helluva lot of time being ignored and rejected.

Selling doesn’t cause buyingSales focuses on only the final steps of a buying decision and overlooks the high percentage of would-be prospects who WILL become buyers once they’ve addressed their possible risk issues. After all, until they’ve recognized that the risk of the new is less than the risk of staying the same they won’t do anything different.

It’s not the solution being sold that’s the problem, it’s the process of pushing solutions before first helping those who will become buyers facilitate their necessary change process. Instead of a transactional process, sales can be an expansive, collaborative experience between seller and buyer.


As a result, sellers end up seeking and closing only those ready to buy at the point of contact – unwittingly ignoring others who aren’t ready yet, may need our solutions, and just need to get their ducks in a row before they’re prepared to make a decision.

Imagine having a product-needs discussion about moving an iceberg and discussing only the tip. That’s sales; it doesn’t facilitate the entire range of hidden, unique change issues buyers must consider – having nothing to do with solutions – before they could buy anything. Failure is built in.

But when sellers redirect their focus from seeking folks with ‘need’ to those considering change and lead them through their change management process before selling, they can facilitate them through the issues they must resolve (politics, relationships, resource, budget, time), help them assemble the right stakeholders from the start, and help them figure out how to address the disruption of bringing in a new solution. Then sellers become true servant leaders, inspire trust, and close more sales.


Seller’s restricted focus on placing solutions, and listening for needs (which cannot be fully known until the change management process is complete) all but insures a one-sided communication based on the needs of the seller:

  1. Prospecting/cold calling – sellers pose biased questions as an excuse to offer solution details omitting those who will buy – real buyers! – once they’re ready. Wholly seller-centric.
  2. Content marketing – driven by the seller to push the ‘right’ data but really only a push into the unknown and a hope for action. Wholly seller-centric.
  3. Deals, cold-call pushes, negotiation, objection-handling, closing techniques, getting to ‘the’ decision maker, price-reductions – all assuming buyers would buy if they understood their need/the solution/their problem, all overlooking the real connection and service capability of addressing the person’s most pressing change issues. Wholly seller-centric.

To become a spiritual practice, sellers must use their expertise to become true facilitators that become necessary components in all buying decisions. Indeed, the job of ‘sales’ as merely a solution-placement vehicle is short-sighted.

  • Buyers can find products online. They don’t need sellers to understand the features and benefits.
  • Choosing a solution isn’t the problem. It’s the time it takes to manage the risk. – it’s the buyer’s behind-the-scenes timing, buy-in from those who will touch the solution, and change management process that gums up the works.
  • The lion’s share of the buying decision (9 out of a 13 step decision path) involves buyers traversing internal change with no thoughts of buying. They don’t even self-identify as buyers until they understand their risk of change.

Since the 1980s, I’ve been an author, seller, trainer, consultant, and sales coach of the Buying Facilitation® model. And though I’ve trained 100,000 sales professionals, and wrote the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity, sales continues to be solution-placement driven. By ignoring a large population of potential buyers who merely aren’t ready, sales unwittingly ignores the real problem: it’s in the buying, not the selling.


It’s possible to truly serve clients AND close more sales.

Aspiring to a win-win

Win-win means both sides get what they need. Sellers believe that placing product that resolves a problem offers an automatic win-win. But that’s not wholly accurate. Buying isn’t as simple as choosing a solution. The very last thing people want is to buy anything, regardless of their apparent need.

As outsiders sellers can’t know the tangles of people and policies that hold a problem/need in place. The time it takes them to design a congruent solution that includes buy-in and change management is the length of their sales cycle. Buyers need to do this anyway; it’s the length of the sales cycle.

If sellers begin by finding those on route to buying and help them efficiently traverse their internal struggles, sellers can help them get to the ‘need/purchase’ decision more quickly and be part of the solution – win-win. No more chasing those who will never close; no more turning off those who will eventually seek our solution; no more gathering incomplete data from one person with partial answers.

Sellers can find and enable those who can/should buy to buy in half the time and sell more product – and very quickly know the difference between them and those who can never buy.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

There are several pieces to the puzzle here.

  • The buyer and the environment the prospect lives in, including people, policies, job titles, egos, relationships, politics, layers of management, rules, etc. that no one on the outside will ever understand. It’s never as simple as just changing out the problem for a new product; they will buy only when they’re certain they can’t fix their own problem.
  • Resolving the problem needs full internal buy-in before being willing to change (i.e. buy) regardless of the efficacy of the fix. A purchase is not necessarily their best solution even if it looks like a fit to a seller.
  • The ability of the buyer to manage the disruption that a new purchase would incur on the system, people, and policies. A fix, or purchase, might be worse than the problem.
  • The seller and the seller’s product may/may not fit in the buyer’s environment due to idiosyncratic, political, or rules-based issues, regardless of the need.
  • The purchase and implementation and follow up that includes buy-in from all who will experience a potentially disruptive change if a new solution enters and shifts their job routines.

There is no right answer

Sellers often believe that buyers are idiots for not making speedy decisions, or for not buying an ‘obvious’ solution. But sales offers no skills to enter earlier with a different skill set to facilitate change or manage risk.

Once buyers figure out their congruent route to change, they won’t have objections, will close themselves, and there’s no competition: sellers facilitate change management first and then sell once everything is in place. No call backs and follow up and ignored calls. And trust is immediate: a seller becomes a necessary partner to the buying decision process.

No one has anyone else’s answer

By adding Buying Facilitation®, collaborative decisions get made that will serve everyone.

Let’s change the focus: instead relegating sales to merely a product/solution placement endeavor, let’s add the job of facilitation to first find people en route to becoming buyers, lead them through to their internal change process first, and then using the sales model when they’ve become buyers.

We can help people self-identify as buyers quickly, with fewer tire-kickers, better differentiation, no competition, and sales close in half the time.


As a seller and an entrepreneur (I founded a tech company in London, Hamburg, and Stuttgart in 1983), I realized that sales ignored the buying decision problem and developed Buying Facilitation® to add to sales as a Pre-Sales tool.

Buyers get to their answers eventually; the time this takes is the length of the sales cycle, and selling doesn’t cause buying. Once I developed this model for my sellers to use, we made their process far more efficient with an 8x increase in sales – a number consistently reproduced against control groups with my global training clients over the following decades.

Buying Facilitation® adds a new capability and level of expertise and becomes a part of the decision process from the first call. Make money and make nice.

Sellers no longer need to lose prospects because they’re not ready, or cognizant of their need. They can become intermediaries between their clients and their companies; use their positions to efficiently help buyers manage internal change congruently, without manipulation; use their time to serve those who WILL buy – and know this on the first contact – and stop wasting time on those who will never buy. It’s time for sellers to use their knowledge and care to serve buyers and their companies in a win-win. Let’s make sales a spiritual practice.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

May 13th, 2024

Posted In: Communication, Listening, Sales

In the late 1970s, I approached my studies for an MSc in Health Sciences with an idealistic goal to create ways to promote wellness and prevent disease. Although life took me in a different direction, I’ve tried to stay caught up on healthcare.

Recently, I’ve noticed a committed effort in this country to assist the under-served: food services that offer nutritional training as an outpatient service in hospitals and training in healthy eating for patients; outpatient and home support for treatment and prevention for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer sufferers; school lunches and Pre-K programs. I hadn’t been aware of the extent, or creativity, of the outreach of caregiving professionals. We’re on our way to understanding that prevention is preferable to treatment.

The bad news is that some easily treatable or preventable conditions (diabetes, heart conditions, cancer, obesity) are not garnering the necessary buy-in from patients to make the needed healthy choices.

With the best will in the world, providers – intent on designing outreach programs to encourage behavioral change and choice – are facing non-compliance: even with adequate funding, multi-faceted prevention services, and supervised support, patients are resisting and not adopting the necessary changes to generate long term health. What’s going on?


The problem is that the methods we’re using to inspire healthful behavior aren’t facilitating compliance. But with a shift in thinking, buy-in is achievable. It’s a belief-changing thing, not a behavior-change thing.

I’ll begin with a brief discussion of change and how we unwittingly fight to remain stable regardless of its (in)effectiveness. Buy-in is a change management problem.

We’re intelligent. We know smoking and sugar are bad, that exercise and fresh veggies are good, yet we continue to smoke and eat processed foods. We know that telling, advising, or offering ‘relevant’ and ‘rational’ information is largely ineffective and invokes resistance, yet we continue to tell, advise, and suggest, knowing that the odds of success are against us and blaming the Other for non-compliance.

When faced with the need to change, we tend to continue our current behaviors with just a few shifts, hoping we’ll get different results (Hello, Einstein.).

The problem is that change is a systems problem that demands buy-in from the very things that created the problem in the first place – much more intricate than knowing there’s a problem.

Let’s look at the problem by understanding why people keep doing what they do. I’ll be discussing this in terms of systems.

For those interested in a deeper discussion, I’ve broken down change and decision making from the brain in my new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change, and decision making.



Each person, each family (everyone, actually), is a system of rules and goals, beliefs and values, history and foundational norms often called our Mental Models our status quo. It represents who we are and the organizing principles that we wake up with every morning; it’s habitual, normalized, accepted, and replicated day after day – including what created the identified problem to begin with – with the problems baked in. Unfortunately our automatic patterns cause us to keep doing what we’ve always done and has become comfortable.

Any proposed change challenges the status quo and invites risk and possible disruption. When a problem shows up, diabetes for example, the patient has a dilemma: either continue their comfortable patterns and be assured of a continued problem, or dismantle the status quo and risk disruption with unknowable consequences.

How does she get up every day if she needs to eat differently and must convince her family that the food they’ve been eating for generations isn’t healthy? How does she avoid dessert when the family is celebrating? And the family’s favorite recipe is her cookies!

Change means the status quo has to reconfigure itself around new/different/unknown rules, beliefs, and outcomes to become something that can maintain itself with the ‘new’ as normalized. Because – and this is important to understand – until people and their unconscious norms

  • recognize that something is wrong/ineffective,
  • recognize that whatever they’ve been doing unconsciously has created (and will maintain) the problem,
  • know how to make congruent change that includes core values and systems norms,
  • know exactly the level of disruption that will occur to the status quo, and
  • make a belief shift that is acceptable to the rest of the system and enables new behaviors,

they will not change, regardless of its efficacy of the value of the solution.

In other words, until or unless someone understands their risk of change, AND are willing/able to do the deeply internal work of designing new habits, beliefs, and goals, AND manage any fallout, people will not change regardless of their need or the efficacy of your solution.


Why isn’t a rational argument, or an obvious problem, enough to inspire behavior change? Because we’re dealing with long-held and largely unconscious patterns, habits, and normalized activities and beliefs that become part of our neural circuitry. And because we’re trying to push change from the outside – usually through information, advice, and activities – before the system has figured out how to change in the least risky way.

Rational argument is ignored because our unconscious fights to maintain the status quo: we’ve been ‘like this’ for so long and it’s been ‘good enough’ to keep us stable. Change must be agreed to from our deepest norms before being willing to change behaviors. And until then, we can’t even accurately hear incoming data if it runs counter to our beliefs.


Change is a belief change issue. By focusing on behavior change before facilitating belief change, we’re putting our status quo at risk. Let’s look at what a behavior is.

Behaviors are merely the expression – the representation, the output – of our beliefs. Think of it this way: behaviors express our beliefs much like the output of a software program is a result of the coding in the programming. To change the output, you don’t start by changing the functionality; you first change the coding which automatically changes the functionality. Like a dummy terminal, our behaviors only represent our internal programming.


How does this all apply to Healthcare? Our current healthcare system considers providers to be experts with the ‘right’ answers. Providers wrongly believe that if they share, advise, gather, or promote the right information with rational reasons why change is necessary, Others will comply. But our patients and clients

  • hear us through biased filters and cannot hear our message as meant;
  • feel pushed to act in ways they’re unaccustomed to or that go against their beliefs;
  • resist and reject when expected to act in ways outside their norm;
  • lose trust in us when we push them.

Because of their history, because brains often mistranslate incoming words, because the new may negatively touch their beliefs – for any number of reasons – information ‘in’ without systemic change may not prompt a hoped-for response.

So how can we effect compliance if offering information or diets or exercise programs, for example, isn’t effective?


Start by recognizing that people must change themselves. Instead of seeking better and better ways to offer advice (and getting rejected and ignored), we must help people make their own discoveries and systemic changes.

Here are some ways you can enter a change conversation to enable buy-in and avoid resistance:

  1. Shift your goal. Your job is to help Another be all they can be. It’s not about you getting them to accept the change you believe necessary, but enabling them to design the change they need, in a way that concurs with their beliefs and values.
  2. Enter differently. Enter with a goal/outcome of facilitating change and buy-in, not to change behavior. They must change their own behavior. From within. Their own way.
  3. Examine the status quo. First help Others recognize and assemble all of the elements that created and maintain their status quo – not merely the ones involved with the problem as you perceive it, but the entire system that created and maintains it. Outsiders can’t recognize the full complement of givens within another’s status quo. Starting with a focus on what you perceive is the problem (or the Other recognizes as a problem) inspires rejection.
  4. Traverse the brain’s steps to change. There are 13 steps to change that must be traversed for all change to occur. Unless all – all – of the elements have been included, recognize a need to change, and know precisely how to make the appropriate shifts so a stable systems results, they will resist.
  5. Behavior is an expression and not a unique act. We must recognize that exhibited behaviors are expressing beliefs. Change must occur at the belief level. Trying to push or inspire behavior change is at the wrong level and causes resistance.
  6. Everyone has their own answers. They may not be what you would prefer and might not make sense given the outcomes. Help them recognize how and when and if to change. But not using information as it can’t be understood.

Here are some examples of how I’ve added Change Facilitation to elements of health care in a way that promotes belief change first, ideas that might inspire you to think differently:

Intake forms: instead of merely gathering the data you think you need (which you’ve inadvertently biased), why not enlist patient buy-in at the earliest opportunity? It’s possible to add a few Facilitative Questions (I developed a form of question that enables unbiased systemic change and decision making and eschews information gathering. See examples below.) to your forms to start the patient off recognizing you, and including you, as a partner at the very beginning of your relationship and their route to healthful choices:

We are committed to helping you achieve the goals you want to achieve. What would you need to see from us to help you down your path to health? What could we do from our end that would best enable you to make whatever changes you might want to make?

Group prevention/treatment: instead of starting off by sharing new food or exercise plans, let’s add some change management skills to the goals of the group. By giving them direction around facilitating each other’s change issues, you can enable the group to discuss potential fallout to any proposed change, determine what change would look like, and begin discussions on how to approach each aspect of risk together to recognize different paths to success. Then the whole group can support each other’s different paths to success:

As we form this group, what would we all need to believe to incorporate everyone’s needs into our goals? If there are different goals and needs, how do we best support each other to ensure we each achieve our goals?

Doctor/patient communication: instead of a medical person offering ideas or information, make sure you achieve buy-in for change first. This encourages a patient to self-examine their unconscious behaviors while trusting the provider.

It seems you are suffering from diabetes. We’ve got nutritional programs, group support, book recommendations. But I’d first like to help you determine what health means for you. How will you know when it’s time to consider shifting some of your health choices to open up a possibility of treating your diabetes in a way that doesn’t diminish your lifestyle?

A healthy patient, or any desire to change in a way that benefits a more balanced life, is the goal. Be willing to enable change and compliance, rather than attempt to manage it, influence it, or control it. I’ve got some articles on these topics if you wish further reading: Practical Decision MakingQuestioning QuestionsTrust – what is it and how to initiate itResistance to GuidanceInfluencers vs Facilitators.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

May 6th, 2024

Posted In: Change Management

How to Listen to be successfulHave you ever realized that people don’t always hear each other accurately? The problem is not that we don’t hear their words accurately; the problem is in the interpretation. Our brain gets in the way.

During the listening process, our brains arbitrarily filter out, or reconfigure incoming sound vibrations, turn what’s left into electrochemical signals, then dispatch them to existing circuits for translation where further deletions occur. This process ensures whatever was said matches something our brains are more familiar with – not necessarily what the speaker intended, and potentially biased.

Given that all filtering is electrochemical, and the signals (once words) are sent via neurotransmitters, the listening process is unconscious, physiological, mechanical and meaningless. By the time our brain translates incoming content into meaning, we have absolutely no idea if what we think we’ve heard is accurate.

The net-net is: we might ‘hear’ specific words accurately but our brain doesn’t interpret them as per the intent of the Speaker. With this in mind, I define listening thus:

Listening is an automatic, electrochemical, biological, mechanical, and physiological process during which spoken words, as meaningless puffs of air, eventually get translated into meaning by our existing neural circuitry, leaving us to understand some unknown fraction of what’s been said – and even this is biased by our existing knowledge.

Obviously, what we think was said is not necessarily accurate – and we don’t know the difference. So if I say ABC and your brain tells you I’ve said ABL, you not only have no way of knowing that you’ve not understood my intended message, but you’re thoroughly convinced you heard what I ‘said’. Obviously, this interpretation process puts relationships and communication at risk.

This is especially annoying in sales. When sellers pose questions to prospects to know what, how, when, or if to make a pitch, neither the seller nor prospect can be assured they’ve accurately heard the other.


Here’s a great example of how I lost a business partner due to the way his brain ‘heard’ me. While at a meeting with co-directors of a company to discuss possible partnering, there was some confusion on one of the minor topics:

John: No, SDM, you said X.
SDM: Actually I said Y and that’s quite a bit different.
John: You did NOT SAY Y. I heard you say X!!!
Margaret: I was sitting here, John. She actually did say Y. She said it clearly.
John: You’re BOTH crazy! I KNOW WHAT I HEARD! and he stomped out of the room. [End of partnership.]

Given we naturally respond according to what we think we heard rather than what’s meant, how, then, do we accurately hear what others mean to convey? Maintain relationships? Respond appropriately? I found the topic so interesting that I wrote a book on the gap between what’s said and what’s heard, the different ways our brains filter what’s been said (triggers, assumptionsbiases, etc.), and how to supersede our brain to hear accurately.

Read Sample

But there are ways we can alleviate the problem.


When we enter conversations with a preset agenda, we’re unconsciously telling our brain to ignore whatever doesn’t fit. So when sellers listen only for ‘need’ they miss important clues that might exclude or enlist our Communication Partner as a prospect. A coaching client of mine had this conversation:

Seller: Hi. I’m Paul, from XXX. This is a sales call. I’m selling insurance. Is this a good time to speak?
Buyer: No. it’s a horrible time. It’s end of year and I’m swamped. Call back next week and I’ll have time.

And the prospect hung up on him. Because the Seller was initially respectful of the prospect’s time, they were willing to speak but lost interest when the Seller tried to pitch. As I was training the Seller on Buying Facilitation® that advocates facilitating decision making before pitching, I was quite surprised:

SDM: What happened? He told you he’d speak next week. Why did you go right into trying to sell something? You know to first facilitate the Buy Side before attempting to sell anything. And why did you speak so quickly?

Paul: He had enough time to answer the phone, so I figured I’d try to snag him into being interested. I spoke fast cuz I was trying to respect his time.

Obviously not a way to sell anything. Here is another example. Halfway into a sales call in which my client was facilitating a prospect through his 13 step Buying Decision Journey, and just as the prospect was beginning to recognize needs and was beginning to trust him, he blew it by making a pitch at the wrong time.

Prospect: Well, we don’t have a CRM system that operates as efficiently as we would like, but our tech guys are scheduled 3 years out and our outsourcing group’s not available for another year. So we’ve created some workarounds for now.

Seller: I’d love to stop by and show you some of the features of our new CRM technology. I’m sure you’ll find it very efficient.
And that was the end of the conversation. By hearing his prospect’s intent he might have said this and become part of their Buying Decision Team:

Wow. Sounds like a difficult situation. We’ve got a pretty efficient technology that might work for you, but obviously now isn’t the time. How would you like to stay in touch so we can speak when it’s closer to the time? Or maybe take a look at adding some resource that might alleviate your current situation a bit while we wait?
By hearing and respecting the prospect’s status quo the seller might have opened up a possibility where none existed before.

Unfortunately, in both instances, the sellers only listened for what they wanted to hear, and misinterpreted what was meant to meet their own agenda at the cost of facilitating a real prospect through to a buying decision. But there are ways to increase our ability to hear prospects.


We restrict possibilities when we enter calls with an agenda. We:

  • Misdefine what we hear so messages mean what we want them to mean;
  • Never achieve a true collaboration;
  • Speak and act as if something is ‘true’ when it isn’t and don’t recognize other choices or possibilities;
  • Limit our reactions and never achieve the full potential.

Here is a short list of ways to alleviate this problem (and take a look at What? for more situations and ideas):

  1. Enter each call as a mystery. Who is this person you’re calling? What’s preventing her from achieving excellence?
  2. Enter each call with a willingness to serve.
  3. Don’t respond immediately after someone has spoken. Wait a few seconds to take in the full dialogue and its meaning.
  4. Don’t go into a pitch, or make an assumption that a person has a need until they have determined they do – and that won’t be until much later in the conversation.
  5. Don’t enter a call with your own agenda. That leaves out the other person.

Prospects are those who will buy, not those who should buy. Enter each call to form a collaboration in which together you can hear each other and become creative. Stop trying to qualify in terms of what you sell. You’re missing opportunities and limiting what’s possible.


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

April 22nd, 2024

Posted In: Listening, News

When I coined the term Buying Process in 1987 I was describing the change management steps people take between having a problem, going through their change/risk management decision issues, and finally self-identifying as buyers. In other words, the Buy Side.

Sadly, in the intervening years the sales industry has (mis)translated the term to refer to how people choose a solution (the Sell Side).

The Buy Side and Sell Side are wholly different: one manages risk; one sells solutions. They have different goals and journeys: before self-identifying as buyers, people/groups must assemble stakeholders, try workarounds, figure out the risk of disruption and get buy in (Buy Side); to make a purchase (Sell Side) self-identified buyers must figure out how, when and if to choose a product and make a purchase.

Buying is a change management problem (Buy Side) before it’s a solution choice (Sell Side) issue. When both are addressed it’s possible to both find and facilitate folks who WILL become buyers (the Buy Side) and help the now-self-identified buyers choose their solutions (the Sell Side).

By overlooking facilitating the (Buy Side) Buying Process; by narrowing the search for buyers to those who’ll listen to product details or seem to have a ‘need’ (the Sell Side); by ignoring what folks must handle on the Buy Side; the sales industry overlooks the 80% of potential buyers who could use help figuring out the many hidden elements that might cause risk before they self-identify as buyers. And while sellers focus on finding folks with ‘need’, they’re wasting an opportunity to prospect for folks in the process of figuring it all out and helping then where they need help. After all, they can’t define their real needs until they do. Nor do they consider themselves ‘buyers’ yet.

As a result, sales closes a small fraction of possible buyers, not to mention having a longer-than-necessary sales cycle as prospects address their internal issues privately. I believe the field is using the wrong metric and chasing the wrong target (‘Need’). Not to mention selling doesn’t cause buying.

Read Sample

When the focus of a conversation is to sell, even when mentioning tasks prospects should be handling, the goal and focus of the query is still selling, skewering the conversation to the Sell Side and wholly ignoring the Buy Side – certainly not providing the real help buyers could need help with. In fact, long sales cycles are the result of the current sales model.

To actually enter and serve the Buy Side, the goals and skills are vastly different: sellers actually become consultants first before trying to place their solutions. This not only closes 6x more sales in half the time, but it takes sales out of the transaction business into a relevant, necessary profession.


Buyers aren’t where sellers are looking for them. It’s like that old joke about folks looking for lost keys where the light is instead of where they lost them. Sure, sales continues to find new and better ways to push solutions. But that’s not where or how people buy these days, especially with layers of decision teams and risks.

People become buyers when they have no other choice AND have buy-in for change AND can tolerate the risk of doing something different (a purchase); if the risk (the disruption, the change involved with bringing in something new/different) is too high they’ll stay the same regardless of need.

Here’s one of my MorgenismsPeople don’t want to buy anything, merely resolve a problem at the least cost to the system.

Selling and buying require two different sets of actions. By only focusing on one portion of the Buying Decision Process, sales overlooks the vast numbers of not-yet-self-identified buyers who really need help figuring out how to resolve a problem with minimal risk given their unique systemic change issues.

But the approach to facilitating the Buy Side Buying Process isn’t through any content details or presentation, needs assessments, or qualifying strategies used when selling a solution. Facilitating a buying decision (Buying Facilitation®) begins by seeking folks with need. Sellers should begin by seeking out folks trying to fix a problem their solution can resolve: before folks even understand their need they must know the full fact pattern they must address – the very reason sellers who enter too early believe their prospects don’t understand their problem. And sellers aren’t helping them.


Let’s think about ‘need’ for a moment, and why this is a flawed indicator of a buyer. Do you need to stop watching so much TV and exercise more? Do you need to shed 10 pounds? Do you need to be kinder to your employees? See? Need is NOT the measure used by folks who will become buyers! Your 5% close rate should tell you something is wrong. People buy when

  • everyone (even peripherally involved), and everything (policies, projects, leadership) agrees there’s a problem that needs resolving;
  • they’ve tried everything they know to resolve it and nothing worked;
  • they fully understand the risks – the cost – to the system and find them manageable;
  • everyone who will touch the final solution buys in to doing something different.

Here’s why a ‘need’ focus causes sales to fail:

    • You get few meetings with few in attendance, and then don’t hear back.

o  What ‘weight’ did the folks in the meeting have on the final decision team?

o  How many folks needed your solution but wouldn’t take a meeting?

o  Who took the meeting and why? Have they tried workarounds yet?

o  What will they use your presentation content for?

o  Where are they in their Buy Side Buying Process?

o  When you facilitate folks through their complete change process (Buy Side Buying Process), you’ll help them discover who to assemble, how to find workarounds to try, and how to assess risk and manage buy in according to their unique environments. THEN they all want to meet with you and bring 10 people to the meeting.

    • You’re posing biased questions based on what you sell and miss important data.

o  Your questions are biased according to what you think would make them a prospect, hence miss the underlying (systemic) reasons they haven’t resolved the problem yet and where they really need your help and your differentiation point.

o  Facilitative Questions help them uncover their own idiosyncratic route to a problem resolution and buy in without bias.

o  Your ‘need’ focus causes you to assume far, far more people are prospects and you spend large amounts of time chasing folks who will never buy. Remember: People cannot buy unless they understand the risk of change. It’s not about their problem or the efficacy of your solution.

    • With a ‘need’ focus you’ll get one person’s restricted viewpoint and mistakenly believe she’s a buyer.

o  It’s possible someone is speaking with you only because she’s the only one who wants change and using your call to collect data points.

o  When you only seek need, you really have no idea of the accuracy of the person’s answers, or their reason to speak with you.

o  When you only seek need, you miss people doing their discovery and not yet ready to self-identify as buyers.

o  When you only seek need, you don’t understand the entire fact pattern the problem sits in and don’t recognize folks who could never buy.

    • You have no idea if the person you’re speaking with represents a real opportunity.

o  Has he been directed to contact vendors because the team is ready to choose? or just doing research? Has the whole team self-identified as buyers?

o  By assuming folks talk to you because they have a ‘need’ you’re overlooking the systems/change management issues that must be resolved before they’re even buyers and wasting a lot of time pushing products they can’t buy.

o  By assuming folks have a need, you’re restricting your close rate to 5% and wasting 95% of your time.

    • You have no idea what stage folks are at in their (Buy Side) Buying Process?

o  Have they assembled all (ALL) the stakeholders? Know the full fact pattern of the problem (only happens toward the end of the Buying Process when all factors are discernable)? Have they tried workarounds? Do they know the type of risk they face if they purchase? Do the stakeholders buy in to the risk?

o  Until or unless they’ve gone through all change management stages (i.e. the Buy Side Buying Process), they are not buyers, regardless of what you think they need.

The sales model is so focused on placing solutions, on sharing information sellers believe prospects need to hear, that they miss the real Buying Decision Pathjust because you think they have a ‘need’ doesn’t mean they’re ready willing or able to buy.

Remember: Selling doesn’t cause buying.


Until they realize they cannot fix the problem themselves AND everyone recognizes that the cost of the fix is less than the cost of staying the same, they will not, cannot, buy. And when you don’t hear back, they’re not facing indecision: they’re merely involved in their change management process and not yet buyers. And unless the risk of the change is less than the cost of staying the same, they’d rather stay the same and avoid the disruption.

Sellers can help would-be buyers traverse their decision path – their Buy Side Buying Process – BEFORE trying to sell them anything and help them become buyers very quickly. After all, they must do this anyway, with or without you: until they accept the risk that a new solution brings, they aren’t buyers anyway. That leaves you selling to the low hanging fruit (the 5%) rather than helping the 80% manage their Buy Side decision process.

Before considering themselves buyers, all people must mitigate the steps between problem recognition and risk management. Until people manage their front-end change management piece (the first 9 steps of a 13 step change process, or, um, Buying Process) they ARE NOT BUYERS and will ignore any attempt at being sold to!

The sales industry must shift their thinking to facilitate the Buy Side as a precursor to selling. I know the field has recognized the need to do so, but uses the same tools and Sell-Side thinking to try to get there!


Buying is risk management. Selling is product placement – two different sets of things to handle for two different sets of problems.

Facilitating people through their discovery of risk is not based on a solution, or need, or features and functions, but on a different metric entirely: neither the sales model nor the solutions themselves can help with the Buy Side Buying Process. Buying is first about change:

Buying represents change in the underlying system that includes people, policies, initiatives, jobs, budgets etc.

Change represents disruption. It must be addressed and bought into by everyone it will disrupt.

A purchase represents an unknowable risk to the system.

And sellers, as outsiders, cannot ever understand what their idiosyncratic issues are.

I’ve written extensively on this for decades. Terms that I’ve coined as part of the Buy Side Buying Process (‘stakeholders’ buy cycle, buying patterns, buyer’s journey, ‘workarounds’ ‘Buying Decision Team’) have been mistranslated, and now endemic in the sales vocabulary as part of the Sell Side. Buying Facilitation® finds those on route to becoming buyers and leads them through their change steps.


When I started up my tech company in 1983 and became a buyer after being a very successful seller, I realized the problem with sales: as an entrepreneur with problems to solve, I didn’t even think of making a purchase until I assembled the full set of stakeholders and knew the full fact pattern, tried everything familiar to fix it, and understood the disruption an external solution would cause.

I invented Buying Facilitation® to facilitate folks through their change management steps on route to becoming real buyers. It works WITH sales but isn’t sales. It’s change based, not product sell based. In my Buying Facilitation® training programs I teach how to facilitate change as the precursor to selling. Participants close 40% against their control groups that close (on average) 5.4%. When I trained my own sellers to find folks on route to change, our closed business improved by a factor of eight.

Buying Facilitation® uses wholly different tools and goals, starting with prospecting for people seeking to resolve a problem – people in their Buying Process – that the seller’s solution can resolve. It includes:

      • Facilitative Questions: a wholly new form of question in invented (Took me 10 years!) that leads Others through their elements of systemic change.
      • Listening for systems: a way to listen for systemic problems (leadership, ancient corporate rules, etc.) instead of seek what I wanted to hear.
      • The steps of change: the 13 steps all people must traverse before they agree to any change. Sales enters at step 10 when folks are ready to buy. They can enter at step one and lead folks efficiently through their change issues.

Buying Facilitation® finds people on route to becoming buyers ON THE FIRST CALL when your goal is to find folks changing in the area you solution can serve. It’s a generic change facilitation model used also by coaches and leadership. It has nothing to do with buying or selling per se. And yet it facilitates real change.

Below I’ve included a few articles I’ve written on the subject. Go to, read the section Helping Buyers Buy, and go to the categories Sales, Buying Facilitation® in my blog section and start reading. Then call me. I’ll teach you.


‘No Decision’ is not Indecision

What is Buying Facilitation® and What Sales Problem Does it Solve

The Real Buyer’s Journey: the reason selling doesn’t cause buying

How, Why, and When Buyers Buy

A View from the Buy Side


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

April 20th, 2024

Posted In: News

Have you ever wondered why folks who take training don’t retain the new knowledge? According to Harvard studies, training fails 90% of the time. Surely students want to learn, trainers are dedicated professionals, and the content is important. But the problem goes beyond the students, the motivation, the trainer, or the material being trained.

I suggest it’s a brain change issue: current training models, while certainly dedicated to imparting knowledge in creative, constructive ways, may not be developing the necessary neural circuitry for Learners to fully comprehend, retain, or retrieve the new information.

As an original thinker who’s been inventing systemic brain change models for decades, I’ve developed a Learning Facilitation model that separates the brain from the mind as the central training element to generate new neural circuits that will translate, understand, retain, and act on, the new knowledge.

I’m presenting Learning Facilitation at the Learning Ideas Conference in New York in June. For folks interested in learning a new training approach that offers brain training before mind/content training, here’s an abstract of the paper I’ve submitted to the conference and a link to the actual paper.

Link to paper:

Design Training to Enable Neural Circuits to Accept and Retain New Learning Without Resistance, by Sharon-Drew Morgen

Abstract. Standard training assumes that the right information presented and practiced in the right way will cause a Learner to understand, use, and retain it. But without first generating a home in the brain for the information to be triggered, Learners may not retain it, resulting in a 90% fail rate.

Learning occurs only when Learners have the requisite neural circuitry to translate the incoming content into action. In other words, training must include circuit generation before offering new information or it might not be understood or retained.

This paper introduces a brain-change learning approach that separates the mind from the brain to first enable students to generate new neural circuits to house the new content. It explains why current training models don’t enable Learners to form new circuits; how brains ‘listen’; how new neural circuits get generated; how to set up a room, instruct, and design exercises that work directly with a learner’s brain and eschew their mind (initially), before the new content is taught.

This training model has been used successfully in global corporations with 100,000 learners who, on follow-up, retained their knowledge for decades.

Link to paper:


Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision making, the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. She can be reached at

April 15th, 2024

Posted In: News

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