Posted by: Jo Banks
But only if you change yourself first!
If I had £1 for every time I’ve heard, “You can’t change others, but you can change yourself" I'd be a very wealthy woman. While I’m a firm believer that you can change yourself (if you want to) I also believe that you can change another person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour towards you.
The big caveat here, however, is that you can only do it if you change yourself first. Changing yourself to facilitate a change in someone else, is one of the main principles of my coaching practice and one that I use time and time again to help my clients to achieve exceptional results, especially in conflict situations.
People react to how we behave towards them. Our behaviours are based on what we think and feel (first we think, then we feel, then we act). If you have negative thoughts and feelings towards a person, it is very likely to show in your behaviour either consciously or subconsciously. Even if you think you’re disguising your negativity, there will be tell-tale signs; subconscious body language that will give you away. The technical term for this is ‘body language leakage’. You may not even be that subtle about it; you could be completely open in your hostility towards someone, leading them to respond in a negative way towards you.
So how do we change our thoughts and feelings towards someone?
Firstly, look for the secondary gain (i.e. subconscious gain) for your thoughts, feelings and behaviour – are you feeling insecure, frustrated, intimidated, sad, threatened or does the person remind you of someone or something else? Be brutally honest with yourself. Often the problem isn’t with the other person, but with us. Secondly, think about what the other person’s secondary gain may be for their behaviour. OK, you’ll be taking a guess here, however, in my experience, whatever you think the gain is, will usually be right.
Here's an excellent example to illustrate this. I had a new client, let's call him Paul, who was referred to me by his company. His manager explained that he and another new manager had got to the point that their relationship had deteriorated to such a degree that they were acting aggressively towards each other, literally going toe-to-toe on a daily basis.
During the first meeting Paul complained that the other manager was argumentative and wouldn’t listen to him. He said, "I've been here 30 years, I know everything there is to know about this business, and yet he keeps dismissing me like I'm an idiot!"
I asked the subconscious gain question i.e. what his best guess was for why his colleague may be behaving like that. After much contemplation, Paul finally concluded that he might be feeling threatened by his extensive knowledge of the company/industry. He further admitted that he had not probably not helped matters because of his own defensiveness. He acknowledged that he was feeling threatened and somewhat insecure by someone new coming into the business. When I asked how he would feel if he was new to a company and someone was being defensive and acting negatively/aggressively towards him, he replied, “I’d be devastated!” That was his 'ah-ha' moment.
Armed with his newfound understanding, Paul arranged a meeting with his colleague where he started to share as much business knowledge as he could. He immediately noticed that he no longer felt any negativity/animosity and as an unexpected result, his colleague reacted in a very positive way towards him! Their relationship is now going from strength to strength, so much so, that they regularly have a beer together after work, something neither of them would have ever dreamt could happen. That's how quickly things can change when you change your approach.
As this example illustrates, once you understand the principle of secondary gain, it can often be enough to change your thoughts and feelings, which will naturally result in a change in behaviour. When you change your behaviour, it will undoubtedly provoke a subconscious shift in the other person's thoughts/feelings/behaviour towards you. They may not realise what exactly has changed on a conscious level, or why they now think/feel/act differently, but they will.
I love this saying; it's so very true - “Always do what you’ve always done, always get what you’ve always got.” If you want something or someone to change, you have to be the one to change it first.
More information on secondary gain and how to influence others can be found in my book, ‘Thoughts Become Things: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World' available at Amazon. Alternatively, contact us for a free no obligation consultation on how we can help you change any negative relationships you may be experiencing.
Visit the website for Jo Banks' first book, Thoughts Become Things now available in paperback and Kindle formats.
Visit the website for Jo Banks' new book, Land Your Dream Job Now! now available in paperback and Kindle formats.