April 2010 | www.susansilvers.com

Successful living requires a balance of courage and compassion, just as it demands we balance the time we devote to achievement with the time we invest in our relationships. Courage & Compassion is a free monthly newsletter about success in life and business.

Unclear expectations create difficulties in relationships of all kinds: parent and child (especially if the child is grown and moving back home with spouse and children in-tow), employer and employee, husband and wife, in-laws and newlyweds, and even friend and friend.

In some of life’s situations we have positional (or financial) authority that allows us to set expectations and administer consequences when they are not met (parent and child, employer and employee). In other situations we are limited to making requests and hoping that others will choose to honor them (spouses and friends). In either case, making our happiness contingent upon someone else’s behavior will only lead to disappointment. We cannot “make” another person behave the way we want them to, but we can make ourselves miserable in the process of trying. Individuals that persist in trying to control others fill their lives with conflict, bitterness, resentment and isolation.

Does this mean that we allow people to take advantage of us, mistreat us or get away with all kinds of destructive, irresponsible behavior? Perish the thought! While we must understand that we cannot choose another person’s behavior for them, we can, in fact, influence their choices.

Ways to influence others to make good choices:

  • Set clear, reasonable expectations (behavioral in nature)
  • Communicate them clearly
  • Involve others in creating expectations, when it makes sense to do so
  • Teach and coach individuals to be successful meeting expectations
  • Clarify consequences associated with meeting/not meeting expectations
  • Involve others in determining consequences, when this makes sense
  • Administer the consequence as close in time to the behavior as possible
  • Be consistent in administering consequences (positive and negative)
  • Select consequences that matter to the individual, will impact behavior
  • Listen, observe and learn what motivates the individual. Bear this in mind as you teach and coach the individual, and as you select consequences.

Influencing the behavior of others seems to be as much an art as a science. Mastering some basic principles around expectations and consequences provides a good foundation. You may have heard it said that you can “lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” All too true, but you can always put a little salt in the oats.

Susan Silvers, Inc. clients will soon be able to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) on-line. This assessment tool identifies eight personality preferences: extraversion or introversion (E-I), sensing or intuition (S-N), thinking or feeling (T-F) and judging or perceiving (J-P) and leads to a four-letter type designation. There are sixteen possible personality types, no one superior to any other. Knowledge of type increases understanding of self and others, and improves communication in both personal and professional settings.

Anger is a secondary emotion; meaning, there is always something else behind it. When you look behind someone’s anger you will invariably find one of three emotions: fear, hurt or frustration. The key to successfully dealing with anger is to identify the underlying emotion and react to that, rather than reacting to the anger itself. I think you’ll agree that you would react very differently to someone’s hurt or fear, than you would to their anger. If someone were frustrated, you would try to understand why and do what you could to reduce his (her) frustration. When someone comes at you in anger, behave more like a detective than a warrior. You will both be happier with the outcome.

Never answer an angry word with an angry word. It’s the second one that makes the argument.

Fear is the thief of dreams.

Rita Louise

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