The behaviours you exhibit in your life are the outward expression of your beliefs, attitudes and feelings. They tell others who you are, what you stand for and how things affect you. Often habitual, your behaviours from the perspective of others form a picture of the person exhibiting them.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) was reported as saying, “Clothes make the man” and this may well be true, but it is the behaviour of dressing in a particular style or wearing your hair in a certain way that tells others more about you than your fashion sense. Military hair grooming of short back and sides may seem severe to some, but it is an enforced behaviour driven by hygiene not a statement in uniformity. Ex-military personnel however, often continue to maintain this learned behaviour and in the general population we tend to ascribe personal traits to them similar to those we ascribe to military personnel. The behaviours we see a person exhibit tell us who they are and from this knowledge we chose how we are going to behave in our interactions with that person. We thereby alter our behaviours based on the behaviours we see in others.
Herd mentality is a classic example of this – where groups of people tend to act or react as a single entity because each member repeats the action they witness. International share markets have long been the victims of herd mentality, where the buying or selling act of some parties triggers copy-cat actions that result in spikes and crashes without any justifiable cause.
You can turn this natural phenomenon to your advantage at work by simply displaying the behaviours you want to see in your staff.
We probably all remember, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” from the Christian bible and this is probably the origin of ‘Display the behaviours you want to see’. Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) is also attributed with saying, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him, we need not wait to see what others do.” And this has further been abridged to the axiom, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’.
It seems throughout time society has given us many different ways to essentially say the same thing. This seems to indicate to me that people just aren’t getting the message. If they were, why would we need so many iterations and reiterations of the same truth? And if people did get it, surely they would act on it. However, time and again in our workplaces, in our lives, in politics and government, in sport, education and religion we see people displaying exactly the opposite behaviours to those they want to see in others. The fact that so many negative human behaviours are copied or mimicked by others should teach us to display better behaviours but instead we seem to too busy blaming and punishing to learn anything. And what happens when we blame and punish? “Monkey see – Monkey do”.
The simplest of truths are sometimes the hardest to accept.
If you want people to treat you with fairness, treat them with fairness.
If you want people to trust you, trust them.
If you want people to work for you, work for them.
If you want people to believe in you, believe in them.
If you want people to be open with you, be open with them.
If you want people to show you respect, show them respect.
If you want people to accept you for who you are, accept them for who they are.
If you want people to smile at you, smile at them.