New habits can be tough to change in the workplace. People like predictability. When you show up differently – even if the change is for the better – it is still different, and you may feel pressure from others to go back to how you were “before.”
Still, change starts with you. Choose a specific situation, conversation, or relationship that sometimes creates difficulty or unhappiness for you. Notice how you behave or choose in that situation. Now, notice the internal conversation you have with yourself each time it occurs. Finally, try shifting that conversation to something more positive.
An executive client was having difficulty working with his CEO because he felt the boss was too hard to pin down. His perception was that the CEO changed her mind too often and was unable to make a decision. He found himself so focused on taking notes and analyzing ideas that he was constantly exhausted after their meetings.
We looked at the situation from different angles and my client considered the fact that the CEO, a high-energy extravert, was perhaps just “thinking out loud” and did not need him to create action plans. So he shifted his internal conversation from, “Oh no, here we go again” to “Let’s have some fun with this!” He stopped taking notes and began to practice active listening when the boss went off on tangents.
A few weeks later she thanked him for being such a great listener, saying, “I really appreciate being able to talk things over with you. Sometimes I just need to sort out the issues before I talk with the rest of the team.”
Practice does not make perfect. Practice does, however, build capacity and can serve to recalibrate us at whatever level we aim.
Remember, Leadership is not about a title. Anyone can be a leader who stretches new “muscles” and practices new behaviors that improve their relationships with others.