Can we ever change other people’s behaviors or habits? Should we even try to? I have always believed that every person is unique and they have their own temperament, way of thinking, behaviors and habits. It’s this uniqueness that makes us diverse and rich as a community. I also believe that each one of us has the capability and power of changing ourselves and no one else possesses that power. Yes, others can support and help you change. Which way? In my opinion by doing the following two things (Feedback & Coaching).
1) Firstly let’s understand and appreciate that no one can change the other, you can only influence others. You can influence them by telling them what you feel about their behavior and what impact it has on you and others. When you explain this to them in a descriptive and objective manner – it’s known as objective feedback. Therefore, I say, “give objective feedback, without being judgmental” if one accepts the feedback and understands it – a seed of change is sown. Giving objective feedback is an art and it has three basic steps; a) describe the “situation” explain the exact setting (a specific meeting in which, what one did and said, what was expressed and said by the coffee machine, or whilst making a PPT etc), b) then describe the exact “behavior” (words used, expressions, body language etc), c) then describe the “effect” that behavior has had on you and others (felt offended, felt left out, felt motivated, was engaging or one was politically incorrect in their expressions etc). The three steps, “Situation – Behavior – Effect” if described and explained well are likely to make the feedback objective and hence the chances of it being accepted are very high. One notion about feedback is that it’s often connoted with a negative/corrective action. Well, feedback also works powerfully for re-enforcing good and positive behaviors! So, do give positive feedback also.
2) Feedback is the basic step before coaching. It could be one to one feedback or 360 degree feedback in terms of an employee in the corporate world or a video recording of an sportsperson’s actions/movements in the sports world. Feedback and Coaching helps in making people effective. Without being certified or qualified – most of us are actually coaching others intuitively and on almost every day basis. We coach our spouse, children, friends, subordinates, peers, etc. and in return they are all coaching us. Coaching is an art and a science and its getting its deserved recognition as a professional competency and capability (thanks to the world of sports and corporates). David Rock is a pioneer in researching and showing to the world how, neuroscience of coaching clearly demonstrates how brain-based coaching works in practice, and how the power of the mind can be harnessed to help an individual learn, change and grow. In his book “Coaching with the brain in mind” with Linda Page (http://www.slideshare.net/toff63/coaching-with-the-brain-in-mind) they have explained the art and science of doing this well. His first book which i read “Quite Leadership”, which, I loved; he has suggested that, if you can change ones thinking then you can change ones behavior and habits. His suggestion follows the simple behavioral science rule first popularly propagated by Stephen Covey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Covey) , which explains that, “if you want to change someone’s behavior or habit then first change their thinking. Coz, how you think is how you feel – then – how you feel is how you react and behave. So if you can influence you’re own or others thinking then you can ultimately change your own or others behaviors and habits. As they say, a coach is like a mirror and he/she should truly believe that the solution is best found by their coacheee’s themselves. An effective coach doesn’t tell you what to do, but makes you think differently and hence makes you behave and do things differently.
In conclusion, I say, try and change/influence your or others thinking and you will probably see a desired change. Giving feedback and coaching is an art and do learn it from the experts – giving feedback and coaching has evolved as a concept and science, which is based on wide and deep behavioral sciences research.
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