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Learning phases of Maslow: (un)conscious (in)competent [Explained]

Learning phases of Maslow: (un)conscious (in)competent [Explained]

What are Maslow ‘s four learning stages , or the 4-step learning process ? Here you will find their meaning including examples of each phase. In any case, they can be applied to everything you learn in life! Read along…

In short: the 4 phases are:

  • Unconscious incompetence
  • Conscious incompetence
  • Conscious competence
  • Unconscious competence

This model has many names …

Different names are regularly used for this model. Among others, the following names are given to this model:

  • Maslow’s learning circle
  • Learning phases of Maslow
  • Maslow’s learning curve
  • 4-step learning model / learning process
  • Awareness process Maslow
  • Awareness model

Let’s look at the stages of this model. We also immediately incorporate an example …

Stage 1 – Unconscious Incomptence

Let’s take an example right away. Entrepreneur Piet can be at trade fairs for years, with which he has varying degrees of success.

In all these years, entrepreneur Piet has never come up with the idea of ​​using cold calling as an effective promotional skill. He is unaware of the existence of this method. Since he’s never done it either, he would normally be incompetent at it too: he’s not good at it (yet) , but that makes sense if you don’t even know it.

You do not know what you do not know.

Stage 2 – Conscious Comptence

At one point, a fellow entrepreneur shows Piet how gigantic results are achieved via cold calling. This gives Piet the idea of ​​making cold calls instead of attending trade fairs.

So Piet has suddenly become aware that there is such a thing as cold calling. But hey, he’s still not good (incompetent) at it because he just got to know it and may have only tried it a few times.

Although Piet does not understand or does not know how to do something, he recognizes the usefulness of the new skill. It is crucial to dare to make mistakes if Piet wants to outgrow this phase.

You know you can’t.

Phase 3 – Conscious Competence

Of course, Piet does not stop at just calling a few times. He does it 5, 10, 20, 50 times and a few weeks later he can make regular sales over the phone. This has already yielded him more than is stated at fairs. He has become very good (competent) at it!

However … with every sentence he says on the phone, he thinks for a moment. ‘Oh, now is the time to show some empathy. Let me talk for a moment about how painful it is to— “” Oh, now is the time to take some pressure off. ” “Oh, now is the time to ask if he wants to buy.” Piet always has to think about the steps to be taken with this skill. He is therefore aware of all the steps involved and must concentrate well.

You know you can.

Stage 4 – Unconsciously competent

Weeks are turning into months and Piet doesn’t even need to have his script with it. In fact, he can even multitask and focus on other things during the conversation. In between, he can joke without worry, become friends with the other or teach this skill to others. He is no longer focused with his attention on the steps of the technology.

In other words, it has become his second nature. He is still just as skilled, but this time he is no longer aware that he is using his skill. In fact, suppose he just calls someone – with no intention of selling something – he could just accidentally sell something. He is not even aware of his ability to sell anything anytime, anywhere. It happens spontaneously .

This is often the goal in a complete training path for learning a particular skill.

You don’t know you can. It becomes part of who you are. In the meantime you are aware of – and pay attention to other things. There is no more self- awareness.

Good luck studying!

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!