Three Ways to Change People
It’s absurd to say we can’t change people.
The people in your story have changed you. You’re who you are, in part, because of them.
Influence is the power to produce change.
#1. If you want to change people, change what they believe about themselves.
If people believe in you, encourage them to believe in themselves.
- Explain the positive influence of their passion, strength, or behavior. “The influence of your (strength) on (name people) is (impact).”
- Avoid superficial compliments.
- Offer assessments based on character. “You’re loving, kind, tenacious, or forthright.”
- Accept that doing poorly comes before excellence. “What are you learning?”
(Read, “Mindset,” by Carol Dweck.)
#2. If you want to change people, tell them the truth.
Blindspots are deadly because they aren’t seen.
Positive blindspots occur when people don’t see their strengths, value, or contribution.
Negative blindspots are imagined strengths, value, or contribution.
Blindspots – positive or negative – limit our reach and hinder our potential.
- Don’t bring sour to the table unless you’re prepared to add some sweet. Coach when you critique. Criticism apart from coaching is an arrogant power-play designed to put people down.
- Immediate feedback opens eyes to blindspots. Lights come on when you catch people in the act of offending behaviors. “You’re putting people on edge right now.”, for example.
- Explain their values based on their behaviors. “This is what I see you doing. Your actions indicate xyz is important to you.”
#3. If you want to change people, explain how they’re changing.
- “I notice you’ve improved the way you lead meetings.” (Skill)
- “This bothered you in the past. Now you’re great at it. Way to go.” Explain what you mean. (Character)
- “Your numbers are improving.” (Results)
You can’t change someone who refuses to change. Everyone else is fair game.
What’s troubling about the idea of changing people?
How might leaders change people?
Added after posting:
- If you want to change people, help them change themselves.
- If you want to change people, know where they want to go.
- If you want to change people, know who they want to become.
- If you want to change people, give them new information, strategies, or plans.
- If you want to change people, care for them.
I enjoyed reviewing these principles. I have to wonder how relavent age is to the application/success of these princples?
Thanks Scott. Your comment made me smile. Old people might get rigid. Young people might be more pliable.
Obviously those who want to change are the people to focus on.
What’s troubling about the idea of changing people? Dan, we become judgemental on their flaws and perhaps overlook our flaws , we all have them, just need to admit we can do better. Interpretations can be difficult for people to accept, “Thats life”, take the medicine and move on, out or up!
How might leaders change people? Dan, What I have seen is walk with them and lead them by your ethics and values, they will either buy in or do things their way, which may change how you do things as well. We must remember that are way is not the only way, so being receptive to others helps for all.
Thanks Tim. Your insights about what’s troubling are helpful. I was thinking about the problem of arrogance – thinking we know what’s best for others. Your thoughts seem to tie into that idea. When we come from a position of superiority we’re arrogant.
Partnership resolves arrogance. Or as you say, “Walk with them…”
If you want to change people, help them see the world differently and they will act as if…
Love it. See yourself differently. See the world differently. I think those two are connected. Thanks David.
Helping people change…
Find out what the person is thinking and what the person is feeling. How do they view themselves.
1. What precise changes would he/she like to make. Is he/she able and willing to make the change?
2. What changes would you like to see them make and why. What are the benefits of the new attitude, behavior etc.
3. What you are willing to do to help and support the change process.
Ooooo… “What are you willing to do to help….” Now that’s a kick in the pants. There’s no room for tossing rocks from the sidelines. Thanks Paul.
Dan, love the 5 points “Added after posting”. If you get 2,3 and 5 right, they will be open to 4 and 1 will happen!
Thanks Lynn. So glad you found them useful. After posting they started popping into my head.
Hats off for how you see the interaction betwee 2,3, 5 and 4,1.
Model the change you want to see!
Thanks Eileen. Model the way is the first function of leadership. (Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge)
Thanks for this nugget: “Coach when you critique. Criticism apart from coaching is an arrogant power-play designed to put people down.”
Thanks Rick. It’s easy to point from a distance. Coaching bridges distance. Glad you found it useful. Cheers
What’s troubling about the idea of changing people?
To me, that down the line they’ll find that they really don’t like what you changed them into.
Thanks Mitch. Sobering thought.
Thanks for adding to my pile of Dan nuggets.
I have been frustrated with my students, college juniors and seniors, and their disconnect with reality. I have suspected that this is largely due to their fears, and that we expect an awful lot of them at an early age. I will apply this approach in the classroom and in my conversations and let you know how it goes.
This is very helpful, Dan. Thank you.
One point, age has nothing to do with it. Anyone who wants to change can, even we old folks (I am 77) are capable of making our lives fuller, richer, and more purposeful by remaining open minded and listening to people we value.
Great article!! You gave clear examples of positive feedback tempered with helpful criticism .