What Does Not Work

Let's say you want someone to change. What should you NOT do? Here are some ideas.

The approaches outlined below sometimes work. The trouble is that they work just enough to keep us hooked into believing that they work unconditionally. We might never conclude that when continually repeated, they not only don’t work, but most often intensify the very behaviors and attitudes we are trying to change. The following lists contain most of the comments you’ve heard frustrated parents pass to their unruly children. Maybe you’ve heard yourself say these, too?

These approaches fail because they just do not work long term, regardless of your presentation skills, your unassailable logic, or the purity of your motivation. It seems to be a law of human nature: Humans cannot cooperate in the face of continual Unsolicited Lectures, Taking The Moral Highly Ground, Self Sacrifice/Denial, and expectations that say, “You really ought to want to!”

Unsolicited Lectures

This approach includes anything offered “for your own good!”

* Nagging
* Hints
* Encouragements- “Why don't you just try to...”
* Begging, Pleading, Justifying,
* Appealing to Logic or to Common Sense
* Any written material Strategically Left Around or Read Out Loud
* Any Silent, Long-Suffering, or Angry “Look at How Patiently and Bravely I am Not Saying or Noticing Anything” Approaches, Repeated and/or Escalating Punishments Often Result in More of the Same, or an Escalation of, Problem Behaviors.

Taking The Moral High Ground

Observing from a superior position, especially when using “unassailable” logic, moral outrage, or righteous indignation. Commenting as if the speaker controls the truth about how things “really” are or how they are “supposed” to be. Acting as if one has knowledge, abilities, or a set of morals in which another is clearly deficient.

* “If you were really committed...”
* “Surely you could see that if you...”
* “Why can't anyone realize that...”
* “Anyone with any sense...”
* “After all I've done...”
* “Look how sick I've made myself by worrying about...”
* “I'll help you if you do exactly what I want.”
* “I will continue protecting you for as long as you behave the way I want you to behave.”

Using this technique puts the target into the position of having to question his own judgment. Since he cannot access your judgment, except through you, this leaves him a prisoner to your pseudo-superior judgment. Your judgment cannot replace his.

Self Sacrifice Denial

Any technique that attempts to encourage change in another by denying something for yourself, as if equity means that you have to invest more than anyone else involved in the transaction:

* Keeping the Peace
* Tiptoeing So Others Won’t Be Upset Or Angry
* Putting the Happiness of Others Before Your Own
* Justifying Yourself
* Protecting Others From the Consequences Of Their Own Actions
* Putting Your Own Life on Hold
* Hoping the Other Will Change
* Trying to Please Somebody/Everybody

“You Really Ought To Want To!”

Where a person or a group tries to make another change, demanding that they do it because they want to do it.

* “You ought to want to please me.”
* “All ya gotta do is...”
* “I want you to show the enthusiasm I know you’re hiding inside.”
* “You helped resolve the problem, but I would have
* preferred that you chose to do it willingly.”

Trying to make somebody more responsible, more expressive, more reasonable, more thoughtful, more considerate, more assertive, etc., is an invitation for them to be obedient to your definition of how they should be, regardless of your actual intention. These rarely, if ever, work. They elicit at best obedience. By far the most likely response will be an increasing inability to respond, disobedience, anger, withdrawal, resentment, and failure.

Most people do not like to be obedient.

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