The Secret To Changing Other People’s Behavior

I wear a helmet when I ride my horse. Since I’m well beyond the 18-year-old age cutoff that my barn requires, I don’t have to, but, remember, I work in a hospital emergency department.  I’ve seen the results of even minor falls causing serious head injuries.  So I wear my helmet for two reasons:

1. I value protecting my brain and retaining all the services that it provides me.

2. I know that the only way I can express how important I believe that wearing a helmet is to the children at the barn where I ride is by wearing mine.

I need to model the behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes I believe are important.

Think about that.  Think about the last time you criticized someone for doing something and then turned right around and did the same thing yourself.

Have you ever criticized people for their intolerance, but then immediately excluded or attacked people who don’t share your views?

Have you ever espoused the importance of safety and proper technique only to ignore it “just this once” to get the job done a little bit faster?

Have you ever rolled your eyes about that one person at work who gossips all the time only to turn around and talk about them behind their back?

When we turn our attention back to the Thought Model (review my post on the model if you’re not familiar with it), we realize very quickly that we have no control over the actions of others.  The Model shows us that the only thing that drives a person’s actions are their feelings and the only thing that causes a person to feel a certain way is their thoughts. Unless you have the power to reach into someone else’s brain and change their thinking, you have absolutely no control over their actions.

What do you do, then, if you want the people around you to be more accepting, safer, kinder, happier, and more inclusive?  You become an example of that very thing.  You serve as an example of what is possible.  You become more accepting, safer, kinder, happier, and more inclusive. 

You model the behavior you wish to see from other people even when it’s hard for you.  If you want a more inclusive world, you begin to include more people.  If you want a happier workplace, you begin to find reasons to be happier at work. 

Does it work?

Well, the 16-year-old that I ride with on a regular basis just told me the other day that she can’t imagine ever riding without a helmet. She’s hoping to become a nurse and she knows she’ll need her brain.  I’m calling that a win.