Remember that time I lost it on an airplane? My seat neighbor Jessica let a crying baby drive her crazy, and I eventually let Jessica drive me crazy. A few minutes later, I was back in control.
How did I do that?
When we learn new tools (e.g. empathy), our behavior does not automatically change (e.g. we may lose it on an airplane). Some of us have learned the importance of planning our work day, but we promptly ignore it and jump straight into a task. Others have learned tips on how to manage stress that are nowhere to be found when we are stressed. All of us know how to effectively communicate with others, but we still react angrily to a client.
It’s not our fault! We’ve been taught these tools without being taught how to identify when to use them or how to practice them. Unfortunately, most training, articles and books are focused on the tools alone.
In order to create lasting behavioral change, we need three things to come together at the same time:
Awareness of our current behavior
Tools to change that behavior
Habits using the tools, so we can implement them in real time
Shortly after I lost it on an airplane, I was aware of what was happening in my mind and body. I pulled the appropriate tool off the shelf (in this case, empathy). And I used it effectively because I had developed habits from using that tool in prior, easier situations (e.g. the “just like me” exercise).
So, you want to change. Where should you start?
First, learn the tools. Second, develop habits using them. With practice, your awareness will increase, and you’ll be on your way to long-term behavioral change.
Need help? That’s what we’re here for. Reach out to learn how we can work together.