Then you have to change yourself.
Nothing gets my coaching clients and workshop participants more riled up than this truth. And granted, it’s a maddening one! You look around and see incompetence, closed-mindedness, lack of fairness, and sometimes downright evil… and when you come to me for help, I say: “YOU change.”
After a few coaching sessions with one client recently, she realized how changing her approach with a difficult staff member would likely refashion their entire working relationship and its effect on the department. It was a brilliant light bulb moment. But after a minute, she bit her lip and asked, fighting tears, “Why do I have to be the one to change? I’m so tired of it! At home, at work, everywhere it seems—I am always giving everyone else what THEY need. When is it about MY needs? Who changes for me? Why is it MY responsibility to change for HER?”
The simple answer: You only have control over yourself.
You can only change the world if you change the way you relate to it. And that goes for everything and everyone else, too.
You can’t change your office culture if you’re perceived as an outlier. Join in. Then change it from the inside out.
You can’t change your relationship with your boss by treating her the same way you always have. Meet her where she is. Increase your permission, improve your relationship, and your influence will grow.
“But they’re the one with the problem!” I hear over and over. “They should change!”
That may be true. But you can only control you. I’m not saying you should indulge or excuse bad behavior. Sometimes the way you change is to speak up loudly or enforce a boundary. Other times it means picking your battles. Or it could mean standing up for yourself in a more calm, respectful way than you used to. But if you want to change a circumstance or relationship in your life, the change must come from YOU.
But is it worth it? you might ask. It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy to change your approach to best suit the needs of the other person or the current situation. What do you get from all that hard work? Here are a few things you can expect:
- A Sense of Empowerment. It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with the negative actions of others. But by choosing your response, you increase your emotional self-control and ability to act in your own best interests.
- Hope. When you focus on what’s outside your control (others), you feel hopeless. When you focus on your own behavior, you realize that anything is possible!
- Peace. One of the quickest avenues to peace is to let go of what you can’t change.
- Confidence & Credibility. When you let others take responsibility for their own behavior, and take 100% responsibility for your own, you are much less likely to get caught up in office politics, manipulation, and emotional blackmail. You will look and feel more confident and credible.
- This one might seem obvious, but… Change! Isn’t that the whole point? When you change yourself, you change EVERYTHING. Your small personal change can create a domino effect that radiates to the whole world. By changing yourself, the dynamics of your interactions change… and that can lead to huge long-term results.
There is one common factor in every single one of your relationships and experiences: YOU. And happily, you are 100% completely within your own control. You can change everything about your world by shifting your thoughts, your mindsets, and your approach.
So, to the guy who is worried about ageism in his job search, I say, “You change. Accept and own your age and experience.”
To the client who is going for a promotion but doesn’t think he’s taken seriously, I say, “You change. Start standing, walking, and talking like someone who is worthy of that position.”
And to the woman who could see how effective a new approach would be with her staff member, I say, “You change. When you start meeting her needs, she’ll be more inclined to meet yours, too.”
Of course, that’s what happened.
Figure out how others want to be communicated with, and accommodate. It’s so simple, yet we resist! It feels unfair! We don’t realize that by taking responsibility for our actions and our attitudes and modifying when necessary, we increase our power.