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In my coaching and consulting with entrepreneurially minded people we will eventually come across something that they need to be reminded about.

Successful people have learned a skill, behavior, ability, or technique so well they just flow in excellence.  They have become unconsciously competent!  But not everyone in their world of relationships is at this same level.

They often forget that there are other states or levels of learning and thus competence. Other people they deal with in their every day work are probably at a different step on the ladder of understanding.

Learning-stages-Success-CommunicationsIt helps in communicating and learning to be aware of the four states of the competence model. The progression is from level 1 through 2 and 3 to 4.  It is not possible to jump states.  For some skills, especially advanced ones, people can regress to previous states, particually from 4 to 3, or from 3 to 2.

These four states of learning and change can be thought of as steps on a ladder.  In the model, you move through the phases as follows:

State 1: Unconsciously Incompetent

You don't know what you don't know.  You aren't aware of the existence of the skill, behavior, ability or technique.  The trainee or learner will normally not see the need for learning.  It's essential to establish this awareness prior to attempting to impart or arrange training or skills.

State 2: Consciously Incompetent

You know what you don't know.  You are aware of its existence but are not competent yet.  Teachers and trainers commonly assume trainees to be at state 2, and focus effort towards achieving state 3, when often trainees are still at state 1.





State 3: Consciously Competent

You know what you know but you need to think about it when performing the skill.  This is where a person can perform the skill reliably at will.  The person can perform the skill without assistance.

The person should be able to demonstrate the skill to another, but is unlikely to be able to teach it well to another person.  Practice is the simple, most effective way to move from state 3 to state 4.




State 4: Unconsciously Competent

You know what you know and don't need to think about it.  You have achieved a high level of skill and awareness.  The skill becomes so practiced that it enters the unconscious part of your brain - it becomes second nature.  You are in "the Flow" and you appear to do this effortlessly. 

A person at this level might now be able to teach others the skill concerned, although after some time of being unconsciously competent the person might actually have difficulty in explaining exactly how they do it - the skill has become largely instinctual.

Do you know of a top sales person who is great at selling but who has difficulty teaching others and explaining how she does it?

Maybe you have told someone how to do something but they just don't get it like you got it..... after years of practice.


Being at this state 4 is when you need to be mindfully aware,  especially when you are trying to relate to other people.

What happens when your are NOT aware of your level and you are communicating with someone who is at state 2 or state 3?

What happens when you take a person at state 3 and make them a trainer?   

What if you are dealing with a new prospect communicating the value of your offering and they are at statel 1-  "unconsciously incompetent"?

Imagine how helpful it would be to be aware and listening more actively so that you can develop more enduring business relationships.

Consider how you can apply these learning states for more effective and engaged training of employees.

So where do you go from here?  There is a suggested fifth state of this model: Conscious competence of being unconsciously competent- which describes a person's ability to recognize being in state 4.  I like the term "reflective consciousness."

More to come in future posts...... 


If this information is new to you, how can you now use it in your business - in your relationships?


Topics:   Personal Improvement Customer Communications Strategic Business development Productive Improvements

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