It’s Not My Fault… Is It? Part 2

Categories: Behavior change, Leadership, ReinforcementAuthor:

How many attempts do the kids make before they stop nagging you about buying the next latest and greatest Apple I Pod-Padooozle? If the answer is “a lot” look to yourself before you blame the little devil child. The kids are playing the slot machine of parenthood and over time, we’re providing the “payout” just enough to keep the nagging going. The long term result is an environment where TWO people are unhappy. As parents, we’re unhappy because of the constant battle going on between us and our kids; our kids are unhappy because they’re becoming a bit of a handful and their relationships with others begin to suffer.

In part one of this blog I said that as parents and leaders, we are the consequence providers. If you’re a leader in business, you’re also responsible for managing the behaviors of the people who report to you and it’s not uncommon to find yourself unhappy with those results too. Getting better at delivering consistent consequences is a step in the right direction. In behavioral terms this is known as building stimulus control. It’s setting an expectation (antecedent) and then delivering appropriate consequences following the behavior(s). Plainly speaking, we develop stimulus control when we’re vigilant to always do what we say we will do. This sounds really simple but the truth is it’s quite challenging. Getting better at being a consistent consequence provider is like losing weight: unless we have data we don’t notice improvements.

If you’re getting something you don’t want from somebody look for the “payout” that they receive and work to eliminate it. If you want more of something, remember to be consistent with consequences. Keep track by counting how often you follow through and how often you don’t. Get better at this and people will respect you for it, even the kids.

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