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Alignment principle

Principles > Alignment principle

Principle | How it works | So what?


When everything lines up, there are no contradictions to cause disagreement.

How it works

When a person receives a communication from you, one of the ways they act to assess whether they can trust you and trust your message is to compare it with other things you have said and done. If all of these agree (that is, they align) then they will be likely to trust you fully. On the other hand, the more you are unaligned, the less they will trust you.

No mixed messages

The opposite of aligned communication is a mixed message, where beliefs, values, attitudes and prior words and actions do not tell the same story.

If you display values that indicate you are selfish or if you have a history of unreliability, then asking someone to lend you some money may not be successful.

Internal alignment

Internal alignment occurs where a person's internal drivers, include beliefs and values as well as general goals, are aligned with their words and actions.

Thus, for example, if you believe that you are a kind person and consequently talk this way, but then are unkind to another person, you are showing a lack of internal alignment.

The more out of alignment one is, the more one will appear shallow and lacking in integrity.

External alignment

External alignment occurs where a person's words and deeds align with the internal drivers of other people. Typically this at least involves alignment with common values, such as respecting others and helping those in distress.

Full alignment

Full alignment occurs where two people have both internal and external alignment. This is extremely rare, although it can be approached when people work in a shared and collaborative culture.

So what?

At minimum seek external alignment, although it is difficult to avoid sending mixed messages through your body language.

See also

Harmony principle, Bonding principle

Theories about how we handle discomfort

Theories about conforming

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