I want to share one of the most forehead-slapping learning points that I’ve ever had when dealing with difficult behaviours. Changing someone’s behaviour has got to be the most challenging topic for any manager in today’s environment. This probably holds true for millennia because the issues go back to the dawn of time, but I’m getting way ahead of myself.
It was during research for a client on Conflict Management that I ran across a sentence that leapt out of the page at me and many pieces regarding conflict fell into place. That sentence is: “You cannot change someone else’s behaviour. Only they can change their own behaviour, but you can influence their behaviour.”
The Chain of Internal Events Many people go for behaviour change and really they are aiming at the wrong target. Behaviour is at the end of a chain of internal events that we cannot see and will never truly get to know or understand. That chain of events can be simply put as follows:
Hits stream of consciousness-
Brain produces sounds and pictures-
Feelings rise and fall –
All behaviour comes from state.
We have a stream of consciousness and running alongside this stream of consciousness are the feelings that are produced by the sounds and pictures in our minds, born from external stimulus. Behaviour is the only thing we see. We are unaware of the internal chain of events leading to behaviour. So, given this chain of events, trying to deal with the end of the chain of these events doesn’t change anything.
A Word about Relationships Our relationships are inter-related, which means that we react to others’ behaviour and others react to our behaviour. A neat way of thinking about this is:
My Attitude informs my behaviour, which in turn:
Informs your attitude, which in turn:
Informs your behaviour, which in turn:
Informs my attitude and round again to informing my behaviour. The only part of this model that I am in control of is My Attitude and My Behaviour. Therefore, if I change my attitude, then I will change my behaviour. If I change my behaviour then I will change your attitude and your behaviour.
Is it Worth it? A word of caution though: Your will not change someone’s behaviour just because you changed once. It takes time and commitment to change someone’s attitude. You will need to think about whether you want to take the time and energy that it will take to make the changes required.
Have your best week ever
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