What if we embodied positive change?

The workplace is a great learning lab for human development. We spend 40 hours a week together with people we didn’t pick – for the biggest part. We have to accomplish results together, in teams, in a world that is changing fast.

The workplace can turn into a learning lab or even a pressure cooker to help us learn tolerance, self-management, communication and leadership skills, how to handle change and deal with uncertainty, etc.

Everything we learn at work, we take home to our families, our communities, our society. We spread these learned behaviors because people tend to copy each other.

We spread learned behaviors because people tend to copy each other Click To Tweet

Remember the four ways to create change we discussed in post #5? We can tell others to change, force them, ask them to participate, and/or personally embody the change we want to see.

It’s tempting to tell others what to do and to reward when they follow and punish when they don’t because that is probably what you have seen role-modeled all your life.

Even when you don’t have formal authority, you might be inclined to “tell and force” if you want something to change. I’m sure you’ll find some kind of punishment when telling doesn’t work – you can punish your coworker by not sharing your files, your boss by missing the deadline, and so on.

This has been played out countless times before your eyes and it’s probably deeply embedded in your repertory of behaviors.

Participation is a Skill

Participation to changing something is a method that most of us have seen a little less – but we have experienced it. However, it wasn’t probably role-modeled for us since early childhood like tell and force.

It may be a skill that we have acquired later in our lives and that we are still practicing with. I know I am. My first impulse is to tell others what is going on, and what needs to be done – instead of asking how they see the situation…

Being the change is not common at all. This is part of the new individual revolution that I see coming – this growing awareness that we must first change ourselves from the inside out to create positive change in a situation outside of us.

This is taking ownership and responsibility for what we created together, inadvertently or not. It’s the other side of enjoying our individual freedom. Rights come with duties.

It requires that we embrace courage and autonomous thinking even further – beyond the comfort zone where we tend to indulge in the freedom but shy away from the discomfort of owning our part, and the effort to embody positive change…

But what if we did?

The secret lies in trying new behaviors

People’s brains are wired to mimic the facial expressions of the others they see, and because we have mirror neurons that allow us to feel what others might feel – moods spread easily in a population. We tend to copy behaviors from people around us to build rapport (connection) and to belong to the group.

We tend to copy behaviors from people around us Click To Tweet

Hence, we’re likely to copy what we have seen, and that’s why we keep doing what we have always been doing. We’re less likely to try new behaviors. That’s uncomfortable and can be risky.
We are not inclined to display uncommon behaviors, let alone that these are copied and spread.

If you count, how many cases of telling, of forcing, of participating, of being-the-change do you see happening around you?

That’s why every act of positive leadership and kindness counts – because this is not a mainstream behavior at all. Especially at work.

We need people like you who are willing to be positive agents – so the others can see, learn, and copy you. Our world would change if positive behaviors spread in our workplaces and beyond…

Every small act matters: when you include people, when you ask questions, engage people, help them find their strengths, compliment the energy they bring to the meeting (not just their results).

When you kindly challenge people to overcome obstacles, help them open up to new ideas and different viewpoints. When you stimulate people to enjoy dialogue without feeling threatened by differences of opinion. When you practice listening skills and help people think for themselves and speak up to power, and so on.

The effects of these small, positive acts will ripple through the system.

This is book post # 13 – level: ME

Here’s the earlier post.
Here‘s the next post.

If you’re confused – please start with post #1 or check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

Leaders, employees, consultants, citizens – everyone can make a positive difference from any position, without needing permission or resources from others. This blog will help you see positive possibilities and (re)claim your positive agency. Unstuck yourself and engage others via your interaction and actions. Transform into a positive organization where people and performance thrive.

I’m blogging my next book: “Positive Power at Work – How to make a positive difference from any position.” Your feedback is appreciated!

You can help me by liking, sharing, and commenting.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Carole Schwinn

    I am (selfishly, perhaps) partial to this post, as we are in the process of writing our new book, Practicing Wholeness: An Experiential Guide to Vertical Development for Leaders and their Teams. It is organized a set of practices aimed at increasing self-awareness, strengthening relationships, and heightening perspectives (you may recognize – Selfness to Otherness to Wholeness) and the premise is exactly as you indicate – practice new behaviors – “act as if” you have already arrived at elevated levels of consciousness – and it will spread! Great joy to be on the same page with you – if not on the same continent!

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