Behavior or Deeper?

fireworks_water.jpgOur society, especially in business, seems fixated on “behavior” as a magic solution.  For example, recently I was talking to a potential client about a leadership development program and he wanted to know what “EQ behaviors” the participants would learn.

Talking about the behavior is an easy short-hand.  We want leaders to be proactive, to engage, to give feedback, to listen, to hold people accountable, to execute.  All behaviors that sound great on the surface – but  the HOW is essential… and maybe even more essential than the behavior itself?

My belief is that we need to look more deeply at what DRIVES the behavior.  One can execute a certain behavior in so many different ways – and thereby create completely different results.  Just imagine all the ways one could say the words “thank you.”  If the underlying feeling is gratitude the same words have a totally different impact than if the underlying feeling is irritation.  Thus the emotion that’s “beneath the surface” drives the result.

Emotional intelligence lets leaders see beneath the surface of their own and others’ actions.  To focus on the HOW – on the alignment between the behavior and the underlying intention.

2 Replies to “Behavior or Deeper?”

  1. I agree Josh, there is something deeper that needs to be changed before a lasting change can occur in the behavior. I am facilitating “Breaking Barriers” (by Gordon Graham) program at SVPP; in which Heirum Smith (Franklin Covey) refers to “The Reality Model” to explain the human behavior process. According to RM, there are deep sited beliefs that drives our behaviors. We have developed these beliefs over time to fulfill our basic needs. Unfortunately, often these beliefs provides only short term gratification. For example, somebody who is always aggressive or violent has developed a belief, “I need to be violent to get what I want;” or “I can get whatever I want if I am aggressive.” The only way for the person to change the behavior is to realize that this belief doesn’t fulfill his/her needs over time and needs to see some “pay-offs” in order to have motivation to change the belief. L1 training refers to similar process and I am sure there are other similar models but just some food for thoughts.:-)

  2. Yes, Josh, I think you’ve stated this very well. A related issue seems to be the very real fear of “what will happen if I open up this emotional can of worms?” I sense a near-universal fear that “if I open up the Pandora’s box of emotions, I’ll be overwhelmed forever.” I think there is some legitimacy to this fear, i.e., in my experience, opening up to emotions can sometimes release an initial torrent. And if we aren’t therapists, do we want to release those emotions? As a participant/trainee do I want those emotions released in a training venue? It isn’t an easy question. How can we help clients “go deeper” but “not that deep?” I know we can “refer out” but perhaps the best answer I’ve gotten is from the book “Raising your Emotional IQ.” Written by a therapist, the book reassures readers that even strong emotions are temporary and releasing them will lead to health, not greater illness.

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