11/1/09

NEWTON'S FIRST LAW OF INERTIA AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR

CHAPTER 1
REJECTION AND NEWTON’S FIRST LAW

When you were a teenager, and asked your parents for Twenty Dollars, a new shirt or a new pair of jeans, the most likely response is a resounding “NO”. You became angry with your parents; your parents did not understand your needs and the problems you have to contend with. In your mind, the request was totally justified, everyone was buying a new more fashionable pair of jeans, and it has been more than six months since you purchased the last one, and it’s almost falling apart from daily wear. And so it goes with each request, the Twenty dollars, you needed to go with your friends to the movies, sure the movie was only ten dollars, but there is the hamburger and the pop corn and the soda. You asked yourself then, why don’t my parents understand me? Why do they give me such a hard time? Sometimes an argument resulted, branching into different claims and counter claims; poverty, bills to pay, and mortgage payments argued your parents, while frustration, rejection and alienation was your fate. It turns out that what happened to you is totally expected and is only obeying Newton’s First Law also called the Law of Inertia.

Take another example; George not a bad looking college student is all dressed up for an evening with his friends at a dance club. George sees this beautiful woman (Kate) having a drink with a group of her friends at the opposite end of the bar. George and friends comment about how beautiful the woman is. George summons all of his courage, walks up to the woman and asks her to dance. The woman says “NO”. George is devastated, he has been rejected, he returns back dejected and feeling miserable. His friends make sarcastic remarks, making him feel even worse. His evening ruined, he decides to go to another club or worse go home. What happened to George is totally expected according to Newton’s first law.

Newton’s First Law says that an object which is stationary or moving at a constant speed will continue indefinitely unless acted upon by an external force. Another way to view the First Law is; that an object or an entity will continue to do whatever it is doing unless there is a reason and a drive to change. So an object that is stationary like a chair is going to stay that way unless you apply a force to it, that is if you pull it, it will move towards you and if you push it will move away from you. Consider a tennis ball traveling to the opposite court, when it meets the racket of the opponent, a force changes the balls motion as it returns it to the other side. If there was no racket in its path, the ball should continue to move in its original direction.
This tendency of objects in nature to want to remain in the same state and to resist any changes unless the object is forced to do so is called the inertial property. The inertial property then is the resistance to change; the object will not change unless it is forced to or somehow motivated by an attractive or repulsive effects to change. Another example of this tendency to resist change is best illustrated with this scenario: you are driving with your books, a brief case, or a package is on the passenger seat next to you. Suddenly some one driving the car in front of you slams on the brakes and so do you, bringing your car to a sudden stop. The books or package on the passenger side goes flying to the floor. The books were in motion and they continued in motion even when the car stopped, the books maintained their inertial property, the tendency to move forward. Another example of this tendency to remain is seen when a performer pulls the table cloth from under a set of dinner ware on a set table. The heavier dishes with lots of inertia want to remain atop the table where they sat and that is where they remain after the tablecloth is pulled. This trick could not be done with lighter paper plates, since these lighter plates have less inertia and are less likely to remain in place at the table.

The more mass or weight the object has the more of this resistive inertia it has, and therefore the harder it is to move or cause any change in its motion. A football player is a good example to illustrate this point; large heavy players are harder to move in a line tackle and also hard to stop when carrying the ball and moving for a touchdown,

So when you asked your parents for the new pair of jeans, you have been thinking about the need, the condition of the jeans you are wearing, the friends that have the new jeans, and your need to fit in. Your parents on the other hand are totally unaware of all your thoughts. The sudden expense of a new pair of jeans, unjustified in their mind is a totally a new idea that changes the state of balance they have established, hence the immediate rejection. You were changing the situation, and they resisted the change.
What should you have done? You need to provide the same motivation for your parents First you might approach your parents with the idea that your jeans are wearing thin, that holes are coming through, but don’t ask for new jeans. Later on in the day, you might mention that your friend Sally bought these really great jeans and they are on SALE at the mall (parents love to hear the word sale). You get the picture, this way your thoughts are transmitted and so is the justification to your parents, and the idea is no longer a big change that they will resist. I am willing to bet that your parent’s inertial resistance will be reduced and that you will get the new jeans.

In George’s case he is totally unknown to Kate. Kate is in a somewhat stable situation with her girlfriends having a drink, she is comfortable and at ease in that state with a large amount of inertial resistance. There is inertia here to remain in that state otherwise Kate would be in a different group and a different setting. In asking her to dance, George wants to change this stable situation, and the tendency to resist change on the part of Kate unconsciously comes out as a NO. If George knew about Newton’s First law, he would know that even if Kate was approached by Brad Pitt or Tom Cruse without the fame, the answer would be the same NO. To secure a dance partner George might consider asking 10 girls on the chance that 9 will say NO and one will say YES only because her situation is not all that stable, and he might have enough force of gravitation to pull it off. To improve the chances of success, George might consider a woman alone with no apparent attachments weighing her down, or a woman with one companion only, since this would reduce the stability of her situation and tends to reduce the resistance to change. Other factors that reduce this resistance include how many drinks she had, if she broke up or does not have a boyfriend or other permanent attachments.

George might consider an alternative strategy if Kate is his only choice. He might approach Kate, and introduce himself and walk away, like “Hi I couldn’t help noticing you, my name is George”. The next time he approaches, or has a planned accidental bump into Kate, he is still unknown, however he is not a total stranger, George might comment on the music, the atmosphere, her dress…etc and still walks away. You can see that the more times there are an interaction between the two without trying to remove Kate from her situation, the more familiar and comfortable she gets. George has to be spontaneous and the encounters seem accidental. When George finally asks her to dance the same night or even a different night, she does not feel a change and unconsciously says YES. It would be helpful, if George has a confident voice, self-assured and has some attractive qualities and not a total dork.

ARGUMENTS

Countless arguments take place everyday between a variety of people in a various relationships and settings; between husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, parents and offspring, you name it, much of it has to do with Newton’s First Law.
The wife says, “honey, I need a new dryer”, or “I need a vacation without the children”, while the husband is thinking “the latest titanium driver would do wonders to my golf game” or “that new fishing pole is guaranteed to catch lots of fish”. When each consults the other about their needs and wants, the immediate answer is NO. The most successful at getting what they want are spouses that approach the subject well prepared with the appropriate steps.
The major rule here is to never, never, never (did I say it enough times) spring a surprise. Always lay the ground work, plan your attack and gradually introduce your subject of discussion, and above all be patient. Most of us want immediate response to our needs; you can save yourself a lot of headaches and get the desired response if you remember that a NO is only natural.
There are some people like a mother in law I know, who commence her response in a conversation by a “NO” even when she is in complete agreement with the point being made. The idea of NO as a human response may be built into the subconscious mind. It may be that we are conditioned internally to think that, if someone else wants something from us, that it is probably good for them and therefore must not be so good for us. The tendency to preserve our survival may be inherent in the refusal of other people’s demands, and even their ideas. If it is good for them, it is likely bad for us goes the selfish logic.
I always have the same advice when I encounter a couple about to get married; they are usually floating on cloud nine without concern for the coming encounters. No one ever taught us a course in high school or college about marriage. We learn about geography and history, but not about the most important relationship in life. We dive right in unknowing the intricacies and the delicacy of dealing with another person of the opposite sex, with a different set of memories, experiences, genetic structure and inherited characteristics for the rest of our lives. Many ends in divorce, resentment, disappointments and isolation characterize much of the rest of those relationships. My advice to each couple getting married is to add to the vows they are making a vow to “never say NO “no matter how outlandish or insane the proposal is or idea may appear at first, and it will. Just say “I will think about it”. This is not going to be easy; you know you just want to scream how stupid and ridiculous the proposal is. No matter how unreasonable the proposal may sound, hold your tongue, this is your loving friend or spouse. When you look back after some give and take and mutual explanations of the limitations and constraints financial and otherwise, the idea may not be so outlandish and it may turn out that is something you may have wanted all along. Refraining from saying NO, not only will you be improving your relationship, but also you will reduce physical and mental stress, which is good for your health. It has been shown that stress diminishes the ability of the brain to function well especially in women.

Do you ever listen to yourself arguing with your spouse, children, relatives or friends? Most people are so convinced of the validity of the positions they take, they are incapable of reexamining their own logic It seems to me most arguments do not follow the rules of logic. The response is immediate and a NO, a rejection of the point being made by the adversary in the argument. Most of the time those arguing are not listening to each other, they hear but they do not evaluate and process the information conveyed by the other person. Each is only interested in rebutting the argument by whatever means they have regardless of it’s relevance to the subject of the argument. They often raise sensitive points with references to relatives, past events, and errors made by the adversary even though they have nothing to do with the present argument. The inability to present a logical rebuttal frustrates the respondent that they lose control of the situation and the argument degenerates into name calling. Individuals who are self-centered seem more likely to invoke all kinds of perceived infractions to enforce their position.
The same argument often repeats over and over again without resolution. Each party continues to reject the counter presentation without much consideration of the counter argument. In these circumstances, I am often reminded of the wisdom of the saying; “your friends need no explanation and your enemies will never understand”. When the futility of continuing the argument becomes evident, you should stop the argument at least on your side. You may consider leaving the room, or ask for a halt to reconsider both positions. You may even consider a drastic measure like agreeing with the other party. Perhaps saying, “YES” will result in a more amicable resolution of the argument perhaps even to your own?
Couples should set the ground rules for arguing as soon as possible, preferably in the early period of courtship, when they are more liable to agree. First each must wait for a period of no less than 10 seconds before responding to a statement made by the other, during that time the individual must promise to rethink seriously with an open mind what has just been said, hopefully this will reduce the NO response. Second each must avoid the initial rejection and make a strong effort to listen fully to the other person, comprehend the condition and the circumstances involved as they relate to the situation at hand. Third, the response must be made to the statement being made without deviation or the invocation of other unrelated topics and individuals.
Do not bring out a host of past resentments and disappointments bottled up over many years. This will only further confuse the situation and make it even more difficult to resolve the argument. Rather than generate new arguments that become confused and harder to resolve, creating an irresolvable chaotic situation, focus on the topic under discussion. You are most likely to succeed in resolving these issues if you deal with them one at a time including these resentments bottled up over the years. Remember, the smaller the job, the easier it is to do. Check my chapter on Energy for more detail.


MARKETING

The circulation department of your local newspaper calls you up to ask if you would like to subscribe for home delivery of the paper. Your immediate answer is NO. So the circulation department calls up and offers you free home delivery for eight weeks. What do you say then? Most likely you will say YES; after all you are getting something for nothing. Obviously, the newspaper is not in business of giving it away. Their hope is that once they overcome your initial NO, you will get used to the flow of the paper and you will continue to subscribe for years to come. The arrival of the paper becomes part of your daily routine. Your family gets used to reading their favorite section; moms favorite, the movie section for the teenager, the sport section for the athlete in the family. Members of the family will resist stopping delivery. Stopping something in motion requires an opposing force, like stopping a car requires that you step on the brakes forcing the wheels to stop turning generating a great deal of heat energy. Unsubscribing would require additional force on your part, you have to find the subscription number usually buried somewhere in the paper, find the time to call and request that the paper be stopped and hope that happens.

So overcoming that initial NO is the key. Stores offer sales, coupons, promotions of all kinds to overcome your initial No and bring you into the store. Their hope again is that you will continue. As we stated Newton’s first law, indicates that once you get an object moving, it will continue to move on its own inertia. Even when resisting friction forces are present, it is easier to keep something moving than start it moving from rest.
A salesman for a company, who wants to secure an account with a prospective customer should find out as much as possible about this customer. The salesman may entertain the customer, invite to lunch or dinner to overcome the initial high resistance to purchase products from a new company. A smart salesman would not go for the big purchase immediately because it will be highly resisted. He knows he will be far more successful if he starts his new customer with a small order. Once the customer is in the system, receives the order catalogue he will order more and more products.

If you are a salesman for a company, you know how important that first order is no matter how small and regardless of any profit you might make or even at a loss. Once the client has an account with your company, more orders are likely to flow and the inertia will be hard to stop.

4 comments:

  1. I think about this all the time... how everything seems to follow the same laws... cause and effect, forces of nature, of physics. Understanding these laws can help us understand ourselves, our behavior, and the planets, the stars (the universe and beyond?). Very interesting stuff. Is there a book about this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. You have mentioned the chapters of the book in 'INTRODUCTION'.You are requested to please advise me regarding the availability / publisher/ seller of it, so that it could be had for further studies.
    Please be kind enough and help me.

    ReplyDelete