What love’s got to do with it

“People learn from people they love.”

A quote from the acclaimed New York Times columnist David Brooks from his lecture on The Social Animal at RSA.

There’s really nothing more to say about successful change than this, I guess.

Don’t let anybody fool you.

There’s no technique or approach that can accomplish what love can do.

In order to successfully invite sustainable change, it’s a good idea to start working on a good qualitative relationship between you and your compagnon.

It may be a bit far off, but as Barry Duncan points out in On becoming a better therapist, the contribution of therapeutic factors to successful change is estimated to be around 13%. So successful change (in a therapeutic relationship) mainly (87%) depends on client-related or extratherapeutic factors (background, history, context, character, relationships, network, …). So the change definitely depends more on what the changer does than what we do.

And still, with that 13% we can make an important difference. Mainly by establishing a good qualitative relationship.


These are a few things that worked for me. Feel free to add yours to the list:

  • Appreciate what’s already there (change is also about recognizing, preserving and intensifying what works).
  • Living life is an extraordinary challenge which implies people to have the capacity to change, so they are already expert changers. Recognize these superbly human qualities and pay attention to them.
  • Always assume a good reason (which doesn’t mean you have to agree with the way people behave).
  • Recognize and value their goals. Which implies that you ask for feedback.

In general, people learn from people they love sums it up nicely.

Or, as Mark Earls (who pointed Brooks talk out to me) would say it: people copy from people they feel are safe to copy.

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