How to Convince Someone to Change Their Ways

When I entered recovery over 26 years ago, I heard a zillion times “you can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results”.  So, when life throws me a curve ball, it is time to make a change.  With a little bit of effort and commitment, we can make the change in our life

BUT what happens when we want to help someone change their behavior?

I was social worker whose clients were addicts, chronically unemployed, and those who had a hard time seeing life could be different.  As long as they couldn’t see their life as any different, there was no reason to change their behavior.

There are two elements which are an absolute requirement for trying to convince someone to change their behavior:

  1. They need to understand the effect change will have in their life.
  2. They need proof beyond a reasonable doubt change will help them.

There was one young lady who I had the pleasure of working with and still keep in touch with today.  Let’s call her D.  She was a heroin addict who also had an AIDS diagnosis.  At our first meeting, I knocked on her front door to find her and her dealer getting high.  I opted not to go in and told her I would be back in an hour to talk with her.  Of course, an hour later she didn’t answer her door.  As someone who was early in their recovery, I knew I couldn’t save her, she would have to save herself.  She would have to want to change her behavior.

Over the next year, we had many run-ins over her drug use but every step of the way, I was able to show her glimpses into the positive effect not using would have on her life.  Would it cure her AIDS?  No but it could prolong her life.  She could feel better. The medicine wouldn’t make her sick.  With each little milestone – a few days clean, not sharing needles to not using needles – we celebrated.  With each little milestone, she saw glimpses of how her life could be different.

First, the restored relationship with family.  Was it easy?  No.  Did she slip?  Yes.  Each time she did, she remembered the positive impact the change had on her life.  Today, she still continues to fight the AIDS battle (27 years and counting ), has fought cancer and even went back to school to get her GED.  She is living a life she couldn’t even imagine 26 years ago.

Believe it or not, I use the same social work tactics in my business.  From helping team members reach their goal to working with colleagues to help them move forward when they are stuck.

The misconceptions about change are:

  1. It takes time to change.  Yes, it is a process but can happen as fast as you are willing to work to move forward
  2. Someone has to want to change.  We all talk a good game when it comes to making changes BUT are you really willing to reach down to the depths of your soul to make the change?
  3. Someone needs to hit rock bottom before they change.  I believe each person is different and for some, yes this is VERY true.

When you are ready to apply the two elements to the area of your life you want to change, AMAZING things can happen.  Want to make a change in your business?  Want to make a change in your relationship?  All things are possible when you embrace these two elements.

What do you want to change?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!