How to behave the way we want to?

Scott Middleton (here) asks a basic question that often gets overlooked:  “[H[ow to become a person that people want to work with? 

Doesn’t he answer his question a couple of lines later? — “If I look at all the things that have worked for me so far and all the great information I’ve received it came from dealing with exceptional people.”

My best experiences with this have been when I emulated the behavior of someone who appears to have something that I don’t.  Maybe something like this:

  1. Searching and fearless inventory of my character — understand clearly what personality defects or traits I need to overcome or at least mitigate.
  2. Identify people who don’t exhibit that trait and would be willing and able to help —  For example, one of my mentors was calm in situations where I would be restless, irritable, and discontented.  However, one must go to someone who is trustworthy, isn’t emotionally involved/affected by your defects, and won’t take advantage of you.
  3. Discuss those negative traits and how your role model deals with them — In my case, I had great difficulty in dealing with upset customers back in McDonald’s management days.  One manager of mine always remained calm.  Her approach emphasized empathy: “I take a breath, a pause, and then I try to remember that they may have just come from visiting a sick child in the hospital, etc.  They may be troubled for reasons that have nothing to do with me, so why add to it by being angry myself?”
  4. Act “as if” you were your role model — I try to remember the lessons during a moment of stress or where a situation must be met.  As a default approach, a breath, a pause, and a little empathy works wonders for me.

3 Responses

  1. G’day Paul,

    What you’ve written is great it’s exactly along the lines of what I am thinking a lot about at the moment. Here are some more thoughts:

    I’ve found emulating them to be a great starting point. I then need to understand what goes on in their head behind the outward facing action (or non-action) that they take. Once I understand that I try and apply it to my own personality, way of working and character.

    For example, it’s one thing to be able to watch a CEO get up and motivate a room full of people and say “if I get up there, look passionate and know my content I’ll be able to emulate him”. But it’s another to understand that the reason why he is able to motivate people is because he is confident in his cause, in himself, in the direction he has set and he is passionate. The visible and audible techniques he uses to make a speech are just an extension of that confidence and passion.

  2. Hi Scott,
    I probably didn’t express this concept well. I alluded to it when I suggested that one should ask one’s role model how they think it through, but I’m not sure that’s explicit enough.

    You mention speech making — often I’ve found that the most spontaneous-looking speakers and speeches get that way through practice, practice, and more practice. It is similar to sports training — practicing plays over and over will make their execution automatic when the pressure is on.


  3. […] does one practice leadership? As I started responding to a comment from Paul Ritchie about How to behave the way we want to? I started thinking, “How does one ‘train’ or ‘practice’ […]

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