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  • Kalani Thomas

5 Little Monkeys - A Story About Your Habits



A researcher puts 5 monkeys in a room with a ladder. At the top of the ladder is a plate of sugar cubes.


The monkeys are curious about the ladder and one begins to climb to the top. Once there, he takes a sugar cube, and instantly, all the monkeys are sprayed with water. This is truly an unpleasant feeling, unless you got the sugar cube to comfort you. This is an experiment using a group of monkeys. This experiment highlights the differences between learned behavior and trained behavior.


As time passed, the monkeys all decided the collective power of the 4 not on the ladder could take down the one that was. Going forward, anytime any of the 5 monkeys would touch the ladder, the other 4 would pounce and remove the monkey from the climb to a sugary treat.


This allowed them all to stay dry and happy.


As more time passed, the researcher replaced each of the monkeys, one at a time. An original monkey would be swapped out for a new monkey. The new monkey would go to the ladder, be removed, and would then learn that ladders trigger a response from the group, not the sugar cubes. Eventually all 5 of the original monkeys are replaced with new monkeys, all of which repeat behaviors learned, without ever knowing about the sugar cubes or the hose.


So often in life people take the lead from someone that has a lack of understanding on the why. When you follow this person, you both hit a point where new situations and scenarios will take place of old understandings, then you are both lost. If you don’t take the time to learn why you are doing something, you lose the insight into how to navigate situations that you’ve never encountered.


Here is the good news, you can figure out why what you are doing works by following this one simple step; Asking yourself “why it works?”


Did that person respond to what you said or was it because it’s the logical response, or is it something deeper? If you can’t figure it out by asking yourself, ask them. People love to talk about themselves, so asking them why they responded to a particular phrase or action will be a welcomed conversation, regardless of how comfortable it is once in it.


Take what you learn and apply it to your communications. When you are done, evaluate again and apply again. Then do it over and over.


You want to communicate better and change how people receive you, then start to dig deeper into yourself, and them. The best communicators flex how they communicate to the audience they are approaching, because they know why the audience responds to words and actions.


Think about your style of communications and the things you say and do.


Are you a monkey, repeating behaviors learned by other monkeys, or are you willing to risk being bullied and soaking wet to get to the bottom of why things work how they do?