How to know when the stove is hot

This is a long post, so please feel free to skip it.

A friend of mine invited me over for a visit to his new office yesterday (Aug 29, 2011).
I told him that I liked it a lot. (I equally enjoyed his company.)

Did I mention that he owns a business?
During my hour long visit (approx.), his phone rang once.
He answered it and promptly asked the caller to visit his website for more info about his services.
I wish I didn’t, but I asked him why he did that.
“I don’t understand  your question,” he said.
“I am familiar with your website, and I know for a fact that it displays a prominent phone number on it.”
“That’s right,” he said.
“So do you usually ask people when they dial that number to go back to your site for more info?”
“Fairly often,” he said. “Why?”
Our conversation about this call went on for a bit longer. Albeit somewhat awkwardly. (I wish I hadn’t said anything.)

Has this ever happened to you?
Why do we get stuck in behaviour patterns that may have been effective… never? (Me asking my friend an awkward question about his business, and him turning a personal interaction with a potential client into an impersonal exchange.)

Taleb Nasib in his remarkable book titled Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, offers this suggestion to this dilemma:

“…it is not natural for us to learn from history. We have enough clues to believe that our human endowment does not favour transfer of experience in a cultural way but through selection of those who bare some favourable traits. It is a platitude that children learn only from their own mistakes; they will cease to touch a buying stove only when they are themselves burned; no possible warning by others can lead to developing the smaller form of cautiousness. Adults, too, suffer from such a condition.”

My 2¢: You are leading you. It’s easy to forget that.