Explain behavior

What Are The Behavior Changes You Want To See?

Finding The Other Side of That Hard Conversation

Step 4: The Behavior You Want

Conflict. Strife. Disagreement. Being at Odds. Dissonance. Argument. Confrontation. Fight. Row.

There are a lot of words and expressions in the English language to describe not being in agreement with another person. This list is only the beginning. When there are a lot of words in a language to describe the various nuances and conditions of something it means that “something” is quite common.

Yes, conflict is common. We come across it every day but for the most part we can choose to ignore or walk away from it when we are not emotionally invested in the situation or the other person.

What happens when we cannot ignore or walk away from a conflict because the other person plays a significant person in your life? It could be a family member, friend, neighbor, employee or contractor. Whatever their role they, and their behavior, are not going anywhere.

We began this series talking about how to remove the stress from these conversations. If you’re joining this series in the middle you’ll want to start HERE.

In the third step we discussed assuming good intent and seeing the situation from different perspectives. In this fourth step we’re starting to look toward the future. Specifically, what is the behavior you would like to see after this conversation is over?

Explain behaviorStart with the end in mind. The conversation you have will be determined by those behavior changes you want to see.

And when I say behavior I mean behavior. Don’t focus on the attitude. Asking someone to change their attitude is like asking them to change the quality of their sleep at night. Attitude is shaped by perspective and it will organically change when their perspective changes.

In the meantime focus on the behaviors you see that reflect the attitude:

  • Is it the tone of voice when they speak to you?
  • Do they roll their eyes, interrupt, or not make time for you?
  • Are they missing deadlines, coming in late, or passing along incomplete or low quality work?

By focusing on the behavior you are putting your energy and attention on something that can be consciously changed. Now, you have a list of things you don’t like – turn it into a positive. What would you like to see instead of this negative behavior?

Things may be so far gone that this will be the first in a series of conversations you have with the other person. If that’s the case, the behavior you may want to see is the other person talking calmly with you about how to find common ground and improve the relationship.

Whatever it is you want to see, make it as clear as possible and write it down. Verbalize it in a way the other person can understand. Keep in mind this other person is likely unaware that their behavior is having such a negative impact on you.

If appropriate share how their behavior makes you feel so they can get an accurate picture of the problem. You may have been feeling devalued, disrespected, or taken for granted. Remember, these are your feelings and you are responsible for them. Be careful not to place blame on the other person. Stick to the facts to create a picture of the problem without drama.

For example, “I’ve noticed on several occasions you have come in late and not spoken to me about what happened or how you are going to make up the time. When this happens I feel as if my generosity on other occasions is being taken for granted and unappreciated.”

Note all the “I” statements in that sentence. There is no, “you made me feel this way.” Nobody makes us feel any certain way. It’s our interpretation of the situation that causes our feelings. The benefit of sharing what we experienced is the person can better appreciate our perspective and work with us to resolve the situation.

As always, you’ll probably want to talk this part through with a friend or associate. Make sure they are clear about what specific behaviors you are asking to see. Ask your friend or associate to put what they are hearing in their OWN words. Do those words match what you are trying to say in your head? If so, then you are ready to have the conversation.

When you do finally have the real conversation you’re going to be transparent with the other person about what changes you’d like to see on their part. Make sure you’ve articulated it in your own mind first.

Take a moment and leave a comment below. How are you doing getting through the first four steps?