How to be Successful with Change & Development?
Behaviour problems can be: Why can’t I stop smoking or start eating healthier or have less quarrels with my life partner? The problem is that you need to change something in your behaviour. It is much easier to get change by buying something... Here we only focus on changing behaviour or other “soft” changes e.g. handle a conflict. How to be successful in your own life and other lives too;-)
Such changes can be to
- start or stop doing something
- improve how you do something
But these changes could also involve other people
- find and establish new relations
- improve the cooperation with a current relation or quit them…
However many people can be irritated, annoyed, etc about a problem, but still there is no action. It is always easiest to don’t do anything of many reasons… Typical obstacles are that
- – I am so busy just now, perhaps later. It could be the truth, but it could also be an argument, that most people accept – a good “defence” strategy…
- the person, who got a proposal for a change, don’t understand how s/he can gain from the result compared with the price to pay for the change…
- some people are afraid of changes in behaviour, which are based on psychology…
When someone says – too busy – you can ask, when there will be a suitable space for action? Or what is just now the three most challenging problems? Then ask if you can assist with handling of one of the problems – is that interesting to discuss? Here you have a link to download one of our learning papers Most advice is given in vain – how to avoid? This paper is because people differ, so there is no common recipe, which fits everyone. Therefore, we use from the HumanGuide concepts the personality theory Eight boxes to handle the difference in people’s personality, so the advice will be more successful. We handle separately each of the eight factors (drives) in the theory.
However, there are some questions, where you need to give good answers to stimulate your or other people’s behaviour change. The basic ones are
- Is this proposal relevant for me?
- How will it be when the proposal is accomplished?
- What are the steps needed to carry out the proposal? How hard to do?
- What is the price to be paid to carry out the proposal?
This means that it is important that you describe the current situation in a concrete way, so it is easy to understand – relevant for me or not? It is smart to very strong describe the problems and their negative effects. The stronger, the more motivation to act;-)
The second question is tricky, because not everyone has so good imagination. Therefore, it is so supportive to accomplish change, if you can show the new situation in reality e.g. someone demonstrate. Or you can show a video. Or…
When it comes to the needed steps to take it is important that they are very simple and clear, because then everyone realise that the price to be paid is possible to manage and worthwhile to do. Otherwise no change!
The third obstacle about – afraid and/or sceptical to psychology – is tricky to handle. This obstacle has higher relevance often for the oldest people, because they aren’t so familiar with psychology. Moreover, not every psychologist has acted in a professional way. For young people this is normally a minor problem, because they or people in their network has used psychotherapy.
What is then a good strategy for handling this obstacle? One cause for the obstacle is that the person doesn’t have your psychology knowledge, which easy can create a trust problem. How are people normally handling that? They assess you: Is this person trustworthy? They observe your actions and especially values. Therefore, it is especially important that you strive to give a good impression in the start with a new relation. NOTE! You need to be yourself – in the best version;-) Also important to have in mind that “the truth is easiest to remember”!
Another perspective… There was a study at Harvard: What characterizes the most profitable companies. The answer: They have long relations. This is easy to accomplish, i.e. to get that they have only to focus on
- Creating trust for you
- Show in a real way that you are engaged to help the other customer
I use the world customer here to simplify, but of course everyone is a customer, when you give a proposal, because as soon as you come with proposals, then the receiver is a kind of customer…
The conclusion is: To be successful to assist other people in behaviour change, then you need to figure out a good strategy for handling the three obstacles I have mentioned above.
Below your will hopefully get some more useful insights and inspired by the examples.
No action – much more common than actions...
Why? Customs are strong! It could go wrong! Today is good enough…
Some talk about doing something, but nothing happens… NOTE! A vision without a plan will stay as a dream!
Furthermore, Graham Williams, who has written the book Rubicon bridge, distribute people in these categories, when they react on doing something in a new way…
- Can’t do it, i.e. lack of self-confidence. This category is most common
- Won’t do it, i.e. lack of control. These people have big need of control, so if someone else came up with a proposal, then they are sceptical. This category is common among leaders and consultants
- Can do it, i.e. action-oriented. If something seems OK and can give value, then those are keen on trying;-)
More about this book you will find in our learning paper mentioned under the tab Free knowledge and the page For individuals...
Positive Psychology and thinking
These two strategies are very supportive for moving forward and reach results. They gives energy and hope.
If you bring up problems, then it is easy to be obstacle-focused, i.e. the problems can grow more than they are in reality. You should of course admit, when there are problems, but focus more on solutions. Under this tab Free knowledge and the page Life Philosophy, there you can learn more about being positive. There is described Solution-based communication by Fletcher Peacock – more information here.
I demonstrate below a personal example of Fletcher’s concept…
My mother complained over her life, when she was around 94. She was living alone in a flat 230 km from me. I have no siblings, so my mother hasn’t so much visitors, but she had regular assist from the municipality.
I had thought for some time, that she needed to move to some type of service-house. There she also could get easier assist and also some company.
Well, I decided to use a solution-based strategy, so I started by using the miracle question…
– If a miracle happens, what could then improve you situation?
My mother looked at first astonished on me, then she said:
– That it was easier for me to walk in the flat.
That astonished me. I hadn’t thought in this way. Hmmm, what to do? I then I used a scale question:
– For five years ago: How easy was it for you to walk on a scale between 1-10?
– Seven, answered my mother, but now it is around three…
– Well, mother, you have a walking frame, when you walk outside. You like it. Why not ask for one?
– Too difficult, said my mother, I have then to talk with the municipality.
– I do that, I said.
It took a week to be delivered. My mother was very pleased by my support!. For a long time;-)
NOTE! This concept can of course be used in bigger problems e.g. problems in teams, departments, etc.
This concept could be used successfully, when a person wants to change something, which is big challenge e.g. stop smoking or similar.
One smart strategy with this concept is to discuss the change in this way
- 1-What is positive with the current way?
- 2-What is negative with the current way?
- 3-What is negative with the new way?
- 4-What is positive with the new way?
It means that you end up with what can give you motivation.
A Change Formula
I have been more or less a consultant all my life. Many years ago I learnt to use a change formula, which has helped me a lot both at work and in private life. It can be applied on most levels, i.e. something personal and in a big assignment.
There is actually a formula that you can apply when you want to change something. The formula is
Change = Discontent x Vision x First steps > Costs
The formula says that the value of D, V and F must be as high as possible in order to make the product of D*V*F greater than C. Otherwise it is very difficult to carry out a change in a successful way. It is useless if the value of D, V or F is 0, since then the product is also 0. The consequence of this is that an alcoholic, for example, really needs to know the negative effects of his/her addiction in order to solve his or her problem. Unfortunately, they seldom have to suffer the consequences/cost of their actions, for one thing because their spouses or other family members protect them, which mean that they don’t perceive the magnitude of their problem.
When I carry out an assignment, then I use the formula now and then. This means that I check that I have good values on D, V and F. Otherwise they must increase!!!
NOTE! For these values it is the opinion about them, which is crucial. Not facts!
An example – When I Started to Run in the mornings
I have been running regularly since 1987. Prior to this I made several attempts, but it never got regular. If I apply the formula for change to my running, the result is the following
Discontent: What made me start was the fact that I had gained some weight. I got tired easily. The clothes didn’t fit. In short, I didn’t feel well and was not at my best.
Vision: I wanted to feel more energetic, be able to go on for a longer time without getting tired, have a flatter belly and the like. I wanted to be able to use my old clothes and not have to buy new ones because I was too fat. I also wanted to be able to enjoy a good meal once in a while.
First steps: I was to begin with running in the vicinity of my house, before I took my daily shower. I also decided to do it in the morning, before I started working. Earlier attempts had often failed due to the fact that I had eaten, when I got home, and then I couldn’t go out running directly afterwards for several reasons, among other things because the children were small. Furthermore, I decided to run three times a week for I had read a book about exercising and dieting. The book was Dieting Makes You Fat by Geoffrey Cannon. It says that you must exercise for at least ten minutes at a time and at least three times a week in order to affect your weight. And you mustn’t run so fast that you can’t talk at the same time. My principle was to run two mornings during the week and one morning during the weekend.
Cost: Starting to run would take some time. But since I did it in the morning, close to home and before my daily shower, then it only took an extra fifteen minutes every time. I also realized that I got more energy from running, which actually meant that I saved some time;-) Thus, no cost but a gain. A pair of high quality jogging shoes was a cost, though, but it also carried some gains. It was more comfortable and more fun to run with a pair of good shoes. I also reduced the risk of injuries to my joints, etc. Besides, it would be annoying to buy a pair of expensive shoes and not use them. To sum up, the time and the shoes proved to be no costs. No, the greatest cost was probably to get up in the morning. Here, I got good help from my goal image. I also received a wonderful reward, when I got going. It is often lovely outside in the morning, and I feel good and healthy all day long.
How did it turn out? It was hard in the beginning. I could hardly run for one kilometre without stopping. I came up with the idea of regarding it as ”brushing my teeth”. It isn’t all that fun, but it leads to many positive effects afterwards. To make sure I did my rounds I used to sit down every Sunday evening and plan which mornings I was to run. I wrote it down in my calendar, and what do you know, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy in accordance with positive thinking. On many occasions I was surprised that I made it, in spite of having had a late night with a lot to eat and a little bit of everything.
Of course, I have had my share of injuries and colds during the years, but I have always resumed my running. If not I simply don’t feel well. I have also had to learn a few things that have been necessary in order to go on. I had to cycle for a while, when I had an injury to my knee, for example. I have also visited a naprapath about once a year, when I have had problems with my back/legs, or just to get some advice. The naprapath has, for example, shown me some important stretching exercises that I must do to avoid problems. I even think that some injuries would have made me quit running if I hadn’t received help from my naprapath. Now I also avoid getting injured by investing in a proper pair of shoes. I run for about five kilometres each time, since I have read that the risk of injuries increases if you run more than seven kilometres.