Having recently spent a fun and rewarding week training in Saudi Arabia, Iwas again reminded how different people respond to similar situations and how often their response is programmed or influenced by their experiences, upbringing and the environment or culture they live in.
I was further pondering this yesterday while watching a cricket match. A batsman played a poor stroke and missed the ball, but did not lose his wicket. He proceeded to play a number of “air strokes,” practicing a better shot. The commentators gently ridiculed this as being wishful and too late. But it reminded me of something I had read about reinforcing good or desired behaviours over less effective ones. The brain, or unconscious mind would process and memorise those practice shots in exactly the same way as the one made in actual play. So, in fact, the “air strokes” are a good technique for eliminating the bad habit or behaviour and replacing it with a better one.
So, applying this to ourselves, such as after a difficult conversation, reflect on what you learned.
Imagine you’ve made it through a tough conversation. Perhaps you asked your boss for a raise, gave tough feedback to a colleague or managed a customer complaint. Now what? You may just be happy to have the conversation over with. But before you move on, take time to think through how it went.
Do you feel proud of how you managed the conversation?
Or do you feel embarrassed or let down?
Did you meet the goals you set out for the discussion? (Did you define these beforehand?)
Do you feel differently now about the person or the problem?
What do you wish you had said or done differently, and how?
Now rehearse this better option in your head to add it to your “memory,” just as those top sportspeople and other performers do.
This reflection will give you a sense of what you should do next (perhaps you need to go back to the person for a follow-up conversation) and will help you better prepare for future discussions.
Join our workshop on 4th July for more insights into Dealing with Difficult Behaviours.