When we think of anchors, the first thing that comes to mind is the tool to hold a boat in a specific point on the bottom of a body of water.
The meaning of anchors can have two meanings and have a significant influence on our daily emotional and productive life.
Positive meaning: Anchors
Just like the anchor of a boat when it sails, it brings up the seaweed of the seabed, even a mental anchor, once it has been created, brings to mind deep elements, lived emotions of the past.
The principle with which they operate was explained, many years ago, by Russian physiologist and Nobel Prize winner Ivan Pavlov for his experiments on dogs, on classical conditioning.
He had installed a cannula on his dogs that could measure salivation, which would activate whenever they were shown food – the unconditional stimulus. Later he added to the stimulus of food, the sound of a bell – the conditioned stimulus – and he realized, over time, that removing the food, only the sound of the bell was sufficient to activate the salivation process. The dogs had associated the food with the ringing of the bell.
These concepts have been taken up by NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to recreate specific feelings “on command” to overcome negative moments, improve their performance and productivity, capture the attention of listeners, etc.
Anchoring is an NLP technique that allows you to consciously build a stimulus capable of activating an internal response, to evoke a desired state (an emotion, a memory, etc.). There are different types of anchors: auditory (remember when hearing songs, terms etc.), visual (remember when seeing a landscape, object, etc.), and kinesthetic (remember when smelling a perfume etc.)
It should also be remembered that throughout our lives we have created many anchors, in a completely unconscious way, that depending on the moments we live, sensations, perfumes, emotions return to our mind.
Negative meaning: Anchors
Anchoring here is seen as cognitive bias, which manifests itself, unconsciously, in our minds, based on the amount of information we have available, on a given topic for making decisions.
Anchoring is the decisive impact that an initial idea or number has on the subsequent strategic conversation. (For example, last year’s numbers are an implicit yet extremely powerful anchor in any budget review.)
Why is this happening?
Our mind often leads us to make automatic associations due to our unconscious competence “the so-called expert or fake expert who is inside each of us “.
To understand how automatic associations work, it is useful to describe the 4 learning levels of the brain, followed by a practical example:
First Level: Unconscious Incompetence
I can’t do it, but I don’t even know I can’t do it. I am an 18-year-old boy who wants to get a driving license “I can’t drive a car and I don’t even know I can’t do it (I’ve never tried it)”
Second Level: Conscious Incompetence
I can’t do it but at this point I realize it. “I tried to drive, but now I am aware I don’t know how to do it”
Third Level: Conscious Competence
Since I didn’t know how to do it, I decide to learn. “The process of learning to drive requires my utmost attention”
Fourth level: Unconscious competence
I can do it. “After practicing hard, driving no longer requires my vigilant control. At this stage, most of the times, the skill is carried out or recalled automatically ”
Once I have gained knowledge and experience, I no longer question my driving skills.
At this point, the brain has transformed the driving experience into heuristics so as not to make our brain work too consciously and consume precious energy.
In general, we make use of unconscious competence in solving everyday problems, which do not require effort and which are anchored to mental models; but when systemic conditions change the mental model it may no longer be so effective at solving problems. Daniel Kahneman, psychologist and Nobel prize for economics, says that if we give two “experts” the same problem and ask them to evaluate it, to what extent do you expect the answers to be 5-10% different? The answer is between 40 and 60 per cent, since we are basically overconfident (too confident) in the sense that we jump too quickly to conclusions (unconscious competence). So we misunderstand situations, spontaneously and automatically. And this is very difficult to control.
Other types of anchorage, which I attend every day, are people who believe that using a methodology or canvas is the panacea to solve all types of problems (unconscious competence), rather than having a multi-disciplinary approach, depending on the type of problem being addressed (conscious competence).
Researchers call this cognitive entrenchment (cognitive entrenchment) effect. Dr Erik Dane of Rice University explains that “By gaining experience in the domain of belonging, you lose flexibility in solving problems, adapting and generating creative ideas.”
So to be more open-minded and less anchored in our mental frameworks based on experience, we need to switch from unconscious competence to conscious competence for continuous learning and constantly question our experience if we want to increase our performance and improve the quality of our life.