The pitfalls of compare & contrast

By June 19, 2013Learnings

Do you ever go along to a training course or keynote speech and effectively stand on the perimeter rather than immersing yourself in the spirit of the presentation? That is, do you internally think; the argument has logical inconsistencies or I’ve heard it all before or I know a better way? In other words, you are comparing and contrasting what you already know with what is being presented.

Does all the chatter in your head get in the way of hearing what’s being said and engaging in a different possibility? If yes, you may deny yourself the opportunity for learning and a different way of seeing things.

When doing the Newfield Mastery in Coaching course, I was just buzzing with ideas, fascinated by how our language, body and emotion create our reality and enable or prevent us from making sustainable changes.

At that time I had selected a coach, David, who was very different from me. We laughingly described him as “beads and sandals” and me as “stilettos and shoulder pads”. I remember saying to him that I was really excited by all the possibilities that were opening up, but also feeling resentful that my analytical identity was being constrained.

I envisaged myself as a pie (well, not literally) with wedges labelled analytical, body, language and emotion. As the B, L and E wedges expanded I felt like the A wedge was being squeezed. He asked me, “ why can’t your pie simply grow and all the wedges expand?

Duh…. and even more interestingly “why can’t you become more ABLE?” OK, so it sounds cheesy, but it was a revelation for me. I now recognise that I have the ability to discern when to be analytical and how analytical to be.

In this series see also my earlier posts Can you ever be too analytical?, The Big Picture and Do you suffer from “analysis paralysis”?

Let me know if you’ve ever had a similar experience. Leave a reply below, email me directly at or call me on UK +44 (0)20 7226 3611 or +44 (0) 7952 068133.



Join the discussion One Comment

  • David Physick says:

    Sylvana, what you are talking to is the 70 year old pivotal psychology theorem of Kurt Lewin that your behaviour is a function of the situation you’re in and your personality. So, your coach is bang on the money. There will be times when the analytical Sylvana will achieve a better outcome than the more conceptual one. However, I’d ask if your analytical “you” is the real you or is this something that is an acquired behavioural characteristic as a result of your career experience that now feels the norm. What data have you got about yourself from psychometrics that will help you really determine you real self and what are learned or coping behaviours. And ABLE is cheesy but I quite like it as a nmenomic! Best wishes!

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