The variety of industries, organizational levels, and ages of the people with whom I work covers a wide spectrum. All adults can struggle with new challenges that involve personalities as well as habits that, while helpful in the past, are not working well for them now. My job is to work with them on improving in the area of interpersonal effectiveness. It is also to help them stand on their own so they ultimately don’t require my involvement.
I laugh when I tell people it’s a goofy business model! I’m working toward not working with my clients. But as a resource, I am clear about my role.
While some may start with a clear goal in mind, many learn a lot along the way. This week I’ve had clients learn:
- Even if you are over 50, you can still change behaviors in order to accomplish the desired objective.
- If the goal is worthwhile, it will require more of you than you initially think.
- Few things happen quickly. It is more likely that small increments in the right direction can be observed over time and those increments add up.
- Behavior change is more likely when someone holds you accountable, and asks questions that allow for reflection.
- You may not get everything you want or ask for from others.
- Sometimes you have to hear something (quite) a few times for it to sink in.
- There can be a gap between the fantasy of what you want and how things really are.
- In order to think and plan, you have to stop doing and carving out time to think can be the biggest challenge of the week.
- Having a plan is not the same thing as telling someone about it. Execution is critical.
While I was checking things on LinkedIn this week, I came across a great title of an article by Bill Gross, Founder and CEO of Idealab – “Vision Without Execution is Hallucination.” It made me reflect on my work with a recent client who was disappointed in our time together because the result was not instantaneous, magical or, as I shared with the client – evident. That client never put any of the learning, strategies, or new skills into practice. Although the work needed to be done by them outside of our meeting times, there was no evidence that our time together was making any difference.
When the work is being done, I hear clients tell me that it can be hard. But they get better at new behaviors with practice. While it may never be second nature, or their ‘default’ behavior, they can and do learn the triggers that signal them to reach for the alternative behavior that is more effective.
I think it’s useful to let clients know that I appreciate the opportunity to support, guide, and be of service. I recognize their willingness to come to do the work and tell them so. I value the effort and their commitment to be disciplined about improving interpersonaly.
Behavior change is hard work. Even if someone makes it look easy – it rarely is.