>The nature of my work is such that I spend a lot of time listening to people talk about the problems/challenges that are going on in their organization or community. It seems to be human nature to assign some degree of blame to a person or people identified as “difficult.” “If only A would stop doing X, everything would be OK.” “The main problem is that B and C don’t follow rule Y.” Then I am asked how the group can somehow change A, B, or C’s behavior.
Instead, I offer two other possibilities.
The first is to create a space for group members to do some self-reflection on the ways that THEY contribute to the situation. It is SO much easier to criticize everybody else than to look at our own stuff! But so much less effective. It’s difficult – some would say impossible – to directly change another’s behavior. But identifying our OWN part in the situation, and looking for ways to change our OWN behavior, is much more effective. (Here’s a fun quiz to find out if YOU may be the “difficult” person.)
The second is to analyze the environment or culture in which the problem is occurring. Often there are structural issues that contribute to the unwanted behavior. Look for ways to making it easier to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing!