Where behavioral science and humanism get out of the ivory tower, and into the world.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to get your [co-worker, neighbor family member, pet, significant other] to do what you want – Part 2

Planned ignoring, while effective, is not a very fun way of interacting with people. It takes a lot of consistency and fortitude and generally causes headaches before the major results kick in.

The best way to get people to act how you want is by what’s called “Proactive” positive behavioral supports. This is by far the effective and enjoyable way to effect change in people. It’s simple, effective, and makes you feel good too.

So here’s what it all boils down to “Go out of your way to tell people you like what they’re doing.” Yep, that’s it. A few well placed “thank you”s and some pats on the back will make everything great. How does that happen you ask? And why then isn’t everyone great now?

Two things:

First, very few people go out of their way to give compliments and approving statements.

Second, the person shouldn’t be doing something extraordinary, they should just be doing behavior you’d like to see them do again in the future.

Your significant other takes out the trash for you? Give them a compliment. Your child is sitting quietly focused on their homework? Tell them how great they are for doing their math. Your dog has happily greeted you at the door without jumping all over you? Milkbones for everyone!

I know this all seems crazy. I mean, why should people get praise for doing what they’re doing anyway? That’s the “trick” with this stuff, anytime you reward a behavior, you make it more likely for the behavior to occur again.

This usually works pretty quickly, and once you get into the habit of it, you can start getting into the fancier techniques, and getting totally new behaviors you’ve always dreamed of but never thought possible. Some day, you too could have children who clean their rooms on their own, a spouse who interacts with you how you want, or a staff who’s ahead of their work. :-)

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