Shifting ‘Normal’

November 4, 2017 4:31 pm

Interesting article about how ‘what is normal’ changes. The article is political and is shaped around how a very powerful leader’s behaviour is re-setting the boundaries for ‘normal and expected’.  Essentially, by displaying a set of behaviours frequently, confidently and very publicly, this leader is shifting what is considered normal.

As the article points out, what we consider normal is based on our perception of ‘average’ in combination with what we consider ‘ideal’.  Our brains are ’wired’ to be highly social and our beliefs are shaped by what we observe around us.  Human brains are also susceptible to mental biases such as frequency, recently and saliency.  When we see something often, recently and especially if it has emotive content or is demonstrated by a powerful person, this is enough to start the process of making us believe that something that we once considered unusual seem normal.

While the article looks at how negative behaviours become normal, the same principles would apply to the purposeful display of positive behaviour/habits.  I see opportunities for leaders to shift organisational culture towards more desirable ways of working such as unrelenting respectfulness or openness to diverse views or even constructive use of conflict.


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