Power of Acceptance and Choice in Changing other People’s Behavior


Daily Quote: “Acceptance is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any requirement that they follow your advice or dreams for them. In doing this you set yourself free to love others unconditionally”. Carl Rogers  

Reflection: I have learned that if you accept yourself and others as they are you provide the other person the space and time for them to reflect on their behavior and possibly choose to change. Don’t try to change others by pressure or pushing.  When you accept somebody you love them for what they think they should be or do. You give them the gift of freedom and reap the benefits of who they become come, and learn the lesson of less control, without imposing your will and without constantly trying to change them.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Identify a behavior of a partner or fellow employee you would like to change. For the first week just make a note of the behavior and how many times it appears in your relationship and how it makes you fee. The try one of these techniques for influencing the other person to try something new.

1.  Let go of the idea that you are going to be able to change the other person’s behavior. Sit and reflect on the possibility of resistance and that change may not happen. By getting comfortable and accepting the possibility of no change you will gain a new perspective on the situation. Now contemplate how it would feel to simply ignore or live with the behavior? Is it possible you could change your own behavior and attitude to accommodate them? Remember you have the right to share your observation and give feedback on how their behavior affects you, but nagging someone to change is the quickest and surest way to completely sabotage your desire for change. Once you truly accept that they may never change, you can use this strategy without grasping and desperation. If you cannot accept the behavior, then prepare yourself for a slow but inevitable emotional erosion and distancing in the relationship.

2. Use a form of empathy to try and understand or figure out what are the payoffs for this person to keep acting this way. Once you have identified the rewards or payoffs work on breaking this chain by reinforcing the behavior you want. Try to “catch the person doing things right” is a powerful tool for changing behavior. Once you catching them moving in the desired direction using praise can reinforce the desired change that is wanted. Praise good behavior using specific focus on their effort to change. Praise in whatever form the person understands and appreciates. For example, kind words, gifts, doing things for the person, etc. Connect the good behavior to you being thrilled with them and your that relationship is being positively influenced as a result. 

  • 3. Ask for what you want using this technique: When you do…. I feel…. because… How do you feel and what can we do about it.  “I want you to arrange your schedule so that you are sure to be on time to meet me.” “If you are unavoidably delayed, I want you to call me and let me know what’s going on, so I can decide whether to go without you.” Then back off and do not dwell on the subject. If you have already been telling the person, calmly and clearly, what you want and that it frustrates you, then you might want to try another technique. If you feel you can no longer suffer in silence, look for a way to work around their annoying behavior. For example, if you have a colleagur or friend who is always late for meetings. Would it work to simply tell the person a time to meet you that is a half-hour earlier than necessary? Is there something that could be purchased that would solve the problem, for example, if your complaint is that the person will not clean the litter box like they promised, can you buy a self-cleaning one? If they won’t dust, can you afford maid service? 

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