Can People Change?


It’s a new year!

We hope you had a great winter holiday with your friends and family. In addition to excessive amounts of food and beverage intake, this is also a time of year for reflection. Which means we’ve all been giving lots of thought (too much thought?) to the ways we want and plan to change (or want and plan for others to).

I’ve been interested in the question of whether, how, and why people change for a long time. And let me admit right up front that I have a bias: I absolutely believe that people are capable of changing. This is something I’ve seen in my personal life and in my relationships. Still, the circumstances of lasting change remain a bit mysterious. I wanted to talk to someone with a unique perspective on this, so I turned to Craig dos Santos. Craig is an interesting case because he strongly believes people can and do change – but says willpower has nothing to do with it.

Craig moved a lot as a child; he was in his eighth school by the time he was a freshman in high school. All this moving meant he could reinvent himself constantly – allowing him, for example, to try to be cooler and better liked by his peers without being dragged down by a shared past. Later, he became a negotiation coach – someone who helps others change and tweak their behavior to get certain outcomes. Craig’s methods combine traditional corporate negotiation techniques with behavioral research.

What do effective negotiation strategies and behavioral research have in common? Listen to understand how those two seemingly disparate disciplines are interconnected, and how negotiation is a primarily emotionally-driven interaction that can dramatically change how effective you are at making lasting change in your own life. You might be surprised.

You can read more about Craig, and sign up for his newsletter, at his website (

Music: Page 95 (Quirky) by Martin-Eero Kõressaar

Image: Monkey Riding a Four-Headed Beast – Maria Primachenko, 1982


  1. Good pod; also loved the graphic of the monkey & monster, though was initially confused about the thumbnail “cookie policy” — is that about feeding the four headed monster I wondered.

  2. Michele Urvater

    This was so interesting. On the one hand one can say that in discovering what the other person wants and playing to that can be construed as manipulation but maybe that’s what one wants in $ negotiations. One must be mindful that by trying to be so controlling of one’s behavior can make one miss the delicious serendipitousness of life.

    • leda

      There is definitely an element of unease between when empathy and emotional intelligence veers into manipulation. I think much of that has to do with your relationship to the person you’re dealing with and what you really want out of it. As you said, getting more money may be what you want out of a negotiation, and you can absolutely get there while still being sincere.

Comments are closed.