William Glasser is the creator of “Choice Theory.” He suggests that all our behaviour is chosen, either consciously or subconsciously. Choice Theory sets out 7 Caring Habits and 7 Deadly Habits; to a significant extent choosing between these can determine our level of fulfilment with our lives.
Choice Theory suggests that personal relationships largely decide whether or not we have rewarding lives; and that the success of those relationships is essentially determined by how we act in response to the choices of positive, caring habits or damaging, harmful habits. The more we shift towards the 7 Habits that result in Personal Empowerment, the more we shift towards rewarding Relationships.
The first choice is, “Are we Supporting or Criticising?” From our own reactions to being criticised, we know that this does not work. We also know that supportive behaviour does work. To have satisfying relationships, we must be perpetually working to improve supportive behaviour and reduce our criticism of others.
Second, we need to ask, “Are we Encouraging or Blaming?” Similar to the above – a saying that comes to mind is, “Do you want to fix the blame? Or do you want to fix the problem?” For as long as we stay in the “blame game” we lose the opportunity to encourage.
Next, we get to choose between Listening and Complaining For our third choice, we get to choose between Listening and Complaining . There is a reason you have two ears and only one mouth. Unfortunately , many of us choose to talk rather listen. By choosing to improve empathetic listening skills you will significantly improve all of your relationships.
Next, Choice Theory lists Accepting or Nagging . We all know that nagging does not work – yet we all do it. Accepting others as they are is a close cousin to unconditional love; it is a skill we all need to work on. Plus, accepting others has a huge side effect – over time they come to accept us as we are, warts and all .
Our fifth choice is between Trusting and Threatening. We are born trusting – but our worldly experiences soon push most of us to threatening. As we grow and understand the ramifications of our choices, we need to push the balance back towards trusting.
Our sixth choice is , “Are we Respecting or Punishing?” Punishing seems to be the primary mechanism of our world, despite considerable proof that it does not work. This is true in our personal lives, our schools, the business world etc; we need to choose respect.
Finally , we get to choose between Negotiating Differences and Bribing/Rewarding to gain control. In a world that stresses we have win at all costs, the win/win solution is gaining some ground amongst the more enlightened. Negotiating differences is handicapped by weak negotiating skills for many people, but as we work on the six preceding habits our negotiating skills improve as we move from a selfish point of view to one that accepts, respects, values and empowers others.
Dr. William Glasser’s book , “Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom” is the primary textbook for choice theory and is available directly from the William Glasser Institute.