How cults create an artificial personality in their followers (and how you can do it too)
The title seems ominous because it mentions that cults make an effort to change ones personality but in a sense we create artificial personalities all the time. We use one when we are shopping, another when we are disabled dating and one when we are buying a car. They are all a different and useful form or “I/me”.
Cults may do this in the most dramatic way with an end result that even Jack’s family members agree “This isn’t the Jack I know.”
The methods that cults use can be used by anyone in any group setting and can be thought of as a “Management system” or a technique of motivation. Thus there is a benefit to applying this knowledge in other areas.
An obvious way a cult does this is through isolation from other social networks. The extreme of a cult does not have to be applied. If this is applied to a work setting then the stated rule is “This is work. Leave the other parts of life at the door.” Likewise the person can go home and leave work at work. The result is a “work personality” and a “home personality”.
ENLIST THEM IN A CAUSE
Nothing is quite so motivating than to be involved in a glorious cause. To do this make the success of the group linked to the individuals success. Make the cause lofty and ideal and progressive always on the wave of the future.
DESCRIBE FOR THEM THE QUALITIES OF A “GOOD SOLDIER”
Once you’ve enlisted them in a cause you can now tell them how best to serve the cause. By describing the qualities of “good soldier” you create an ideal of behavior. On the one hand it’s important to point out qualities that they already have to affirm their part in the cause. But it’s also important to describe qualities that they will have to work to develop. These qualities can be actual behaviors or they can values that you wish to impose on them. Either way you are holding them to an ideal and letting them know that they play a vital role in the cause.
DRILL THE “GOOD SOLDIER” INTO EXISTENCE
A cult may do this process with intense drills and exercises that emphasize the qualities and values of a good soldier. They will create scenarios and situations where these qualities can be tested and followed up with feedback and correction when needed. You can do this in a management setting much the same way. The goal is to make them WANT to bring on this new personality and do it without prompting. This is done mostly by creating a high standard and through a subtle application of rewards and punishment.
CREATE A GROUP MYTH
Nothing will solidify the new personality than getting a group of “good soldiers” together and having them work with some great purpose in mind. By getting your employee, staff, cult member involved in a group and putting them into action as a group you help create an “esprit de corp” that unifies them and helps solidify the newly created personality. Thus, find tasks that your group can do together. It could be a project, a field trip or anything where they have to work together as a group.
Every one of these tactics can be used and applied in your business and social settings.
If your response to this is to recoil at the idea of using cult strategies then stop it. These strategies are used all the time in many different setting and situations. A good manager is a person who would make a good cult leader if they choose to do it.
The benefits of this strategy include highly motivated people who support the team and, when needed, can put work on hold to develop a personal life.