Influencing Behavior

It seems that most of us have a tough enough time controlling our own behavior, much less influencing the behavior of others. Yet most of life is about “enrollment” – be it in business or in our personal lives. Enrolling others in thinking and behaving differently and in accordance with desired outcomes is what leaders do so effectively.

Our coaching practice focuses on what we call the 3 C’s: Connection, Clarity and Commitment. This article discusses the Clarity and Commitment areas where behaviors are influenced and breakthroughs are attained. I’ve found three questions to be especially helpful to influence behavior.

1. What’s important?

2. What do you want to have happen?

3. What’s next?

Let’s briefly examine each of these questions. By asking ourselves, or others, “what’s important?” we are helping to prioritize all of the other “stuff” that’s floating around a particular issue or situation. It goes a long way in helping to attain clarity.

The next question starts the process of commitment. By stepping back from the emotions around a situation and asking “what do you want to have happen?” a person begins to internalize and think more objectively about what is possible about changing a situation. We become more realistic with our expectations and start to think about what we really want to occur.

Finally, by asking “what’s next?”, we are really asking ourselves or others what are we committed to do to change the situation.

A recent client was having difficulty generating sales in a new market. After awhile he decided what “was really important” was getting more appointments with decision makers. What he “wanted to have happen” was to be comfortable in talking about his business with decision makers in his new market. And what he “decided to do next” was to practice talking about his business with people both outside and inside his new market. He’s now in action and on his way to achieve his goal of increased sales.

By examining the answers to these three questions we can prepare ourselves and others to address the situations in our lives, both personally and professionally, where a behavior change is needed. By guiding others to answer these questions, we can influence their thinking and behavior so that they achieve more clarity and commitment in their lives. So, when you feel you are stuck, ask yourself the three questions.