June 17

You’ve likely heard the phrase “you can’t change other people!” Coach and author Peter Bregman disagrees. In fact, he’s made a career of chang- ing other people, or more accurately, helping people change themselves. He believes that our approach to trying to change others is often the biggest impediment to the other person actually changing. We tend to confront them and explain why their behavior isn’t working. However, that method often generates even more conflict, with the other person digging their heels in and refusing to budge. Instead, Bregman says that we should strive to become an ally of the other person. Rather than tell- ing them what they should do, we must help them discover why that change would be beneficial for them. By taking this approach, we prove that we aren’t their sworn mortal enemy but are actually striving to help them succeed.

There are certainly times when confrontation is necessary in the workplace, but those moments should be saved for when behavior is so egregious that it rises to the level of insubordination. In most cases, it’s far better to come alongside the other person and help them grow. You will build stronger organizational relationships, and you will also be more likely to get the results you want.

No one changes their behavior until they want to, and you can help them want to.


is there anyone in your organization (or whom you have to work or live with) who is exhibiting an undesirable behavior? How might you—by becoming an ally—help them change their behavior—for their own good?

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