Suppose a group of individuals desires to operate as a strong team. In that case, each individual will need to identify and work on their counterproductive behaviors for the entire team’s strength. The first part of this blog focuses on how to change personal behaviors within yourself that might be considered ineffective behaviors.
Trying to modify our behavior on the outside doesn’t necessarily change what’s going on inside. Because of this, behavior modifications are often short-lived. Real change is only accomplished when a perspective change happens in our minds and then solidifies within our hearts.
Let me explain. A business owner I coach used to have a short fuse. When we first started, he wasn’t aware of his behavior. It was easy for him to blow up at others, causing hurt and anger. Afterward, he would continue his day as if nothing were wrong. As we progressed, he started to see his blow-up behavior and how it impacted others.
Once this perspective change happened in his mind, his immediate behavior changed radically. However, it didn’t take much time before another blow-up occurred. A change in the heart has to happen first for the behavior to change genuinely.
It’s not difficult to get to a place where a perspective shift happens in our minds. But it takes time to fully solidify a new perspective within our hearts. To truly change, we must change who we are. And it is hard to accept that who we are is flawed, making it extremely difficult to experience real change.
Real change is rarely something we can do on our own. That is because it is hard to identify our ineffective behaviors. My friend in the example above did see an actual change in his heart and behavior, but again, it took time, and he needed help.
When it comes to identifying ineffective behaviors and experiencing a real change, I have found the four steps below to be extremely beneficial. Behavioral assessments and feedback from others can also be crucial to our individual growth.
STEP ONE: FIND A PRINCIPLE
General principles aren’t hard to come by. You will find many floating around on different social media platforms. Many principles come from religious texts or cultural proverbs. You don’t have to follow the religion to make use of its principles. Short, simple phrases tend to work the best.
One principle I often use in my own life is, “Be quick to listen and understand, slow to speak.” Meaning, my priority should be to listen and understand others, then focus on speaking to them. And not to talk slowly, as in tempo, but to think before I speak.
STEP TWO: ACCEPT THE PRINCIPLE AS TRUE AND VALUABLE
A solid principle holds true regardless of the circumstance. That is the type of principle you want to find.
We cannot adopt a principle within our heart if we do not see that principle as 100% true and 100% valuable. Looking at the principle above, I cannot think of a single circumstance where it wouldn’t be more beneficial for me to listen and understand what’s going on around me first and then speak.
STEP THREE: APPLY THE PRINCIPLE TO WHO YOU ARE
For example, part of my personality is to be very talkative in group settings. I feed off a group’s energy. If I’m not careful, I get louder, talk over others, and interrupt often. When I allow my behavior free reign, it can come across as disrespectful to others. That is not how I desire them to feel.
That is an example of how I relate the principle to who I am. And I only continue to find more areas in my life that could use this principle. The principle above is a good principle for anyone, but how it applies to each person will differ. You want to apply a principle to who you are.
If you have already identified a behavior you want to change, you are already performing part of this step in conjunction with steps one and two.
STEP FOUR: PRACTICE UNTIL ‘CAUGHT’
Just because I intellectually know I talk too much in group settings, talking over others and interrupting them, doesn’t make not doing that any easier. I have to take it beyond an intellectual understanding until it becomes an actual heart change.
Before engaging in groups, I try to read this principle and dwell on it. When I make time to do that, I interact more productively because this principle is at the forefront of my mind. When I don’t study it first, it is easier to forget when I am engaged in a group setting.
My father used to say, “Principles are more ‘caught’ than ‘taught.’” I can’t force it in my heart. Instead, I continue to study and practice implementing the principle until my heart “catches” it. Once my heart catches it, it’s no longer something I have to practice. It’s there. And a real change occurs.