Thank God It's Monday™ e-zine by Roxanne Emmerich
Forward to a friend
Issue: 29
June 8, 2009
Listen to Roxanne's weekly one-minute audio!

Ask Roxanne!

Dear Roxanne,
I need you to settle an argument between my husband and me. I'm up to my eyeballs with the crazy behaviors of two of my employees. I want to help them change their behaviors, but my husband insists that people don't change and they simply need to be fired. He even had the nerve to hint that I might have some less-than-perfect behaviors! So which is it—can people change, or no?

– Diane W.

Dear Diane,
If there is a scarier sentence on Earth than "I need you to settle an argument between my husband/wife and me?", I don't know what it would be. Fortunately, you're both right. Some people (and companies, for that matter) are capable of change and some simply are NOT. It's a question of attitude. I've written this week's column to sort through this issue. Hope it helps!

– Roxanne

Do you have a question about how to handle a situation or a relationship in the workplace? Ask Roxanne!


Making Change Possible

Can people change? Really change? Can you change negative behaviors into positive ones? And if you change, can you make the change last?

The simple answer is 'yes.' The more complicated answer reminds me of an old joke: "How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?" "Just one—but the bulb has to really WANT to change!" It is possible to change, but only if you want to.

The first step is to become aware, really aware, of your own behavior—especially when it's bad behavior.

Most of us behave in a reactive way. Something happens—we react. A good way to change your behavior is to take a moment before reacting, decide how you want to respond, and then act. Increase your level of understanding of what is going on inside of you.

Pause. Think. Feel. Act.

When you behave in a negative way, you may often realize it later and ask yourself, "Why did I say that in such a sarcastic or demeaning way? Why do I always react in a defensive way? Why do I feel that I have to act so passively? Why am I behaving so badly?"

Listen carefully and closely to yourself when this happens. Most people have a pretty clear sense of when they are behaving in a negative fashion.

A great strategy is to identify situations (and people) that trigger your hot buttons. Think about why these situations are setting up negative behaviors or why these people make you crazy. As you dig into the reasons, you may find old stuff lingering around. This old stuff may need some airing out or may even need to be replaced by better responses on your part.

Sometimes, though, you may not know when you are behaving in a negative fashion. These are the times when you need someone to tell you and hopefully they can tell you in a helpful and healthy way.

You should seek open, honest, and caring feedback from someone you trust. Find and treasure this type of person. They are invaluable.

So what if it isn't you we're talking about? What if you want to help someone else recognize the need for change? Fortunately the steps are exactly the same. In your most caring and compassionate tone, ask the person to ask him or herself the same self-discovery questions—to be hyper-aware, for one full day, of his or her behaviors and of the effect they have on others, to identify their hot buttons, and to seek feedback from others.

But all this is predicated on the desire to change. Once you get that genuine commitment, real change IS possible.


Four Steps to Real Change

  1. Want it. Until you really want to change, there's no point going to step two.
  2. Self-assess. Become aware, maybe even painfully so, of your own behaviors and their effect on others.
  3. Identify your hot buttons. Those things that set off your bad behaviors.
  4. Seek feedback from someone you trust. Take action based on their suggestions.

Ask Roxanne:

Need advice on how to handle a situation or a relationship in the workplace? Ask Roxanne!

Uncommon Sense:

Self-Assessment Check
For one day, become a self-assessment machine, observing your every interaction and behavior so you can see where change is needed—then make a plan to become the best you can be!
Let me know how it goes.

Follow Me on Twitter!

Have a Twitter account?
Tweet with me!