Getting Others to Change

David Allen on GTD and TeamsHow do you motivate people to change their behavior? This is a common question for managers, executives, coaches, teachers, parents, and anyone else who ever wants other people around them to act differently in a consistent way.

I hear this regularly, because as I work with people to set up systems to maintain focus and increase their productivity, they often complain that one of their problems is other people being unfocused and out of control. “How can I get my staff, my boss, my spouse and my kids to get this?!”

If you want to be good at getting other people to change, ask yourself: “Who got me to change? And how did they do that?” Bring to mind the three people in your life you would say were most effective in getting you to improve, learn, stretch, and grow in a positive way. What was common to all three?

For me, there was only one common denominator about those people in my life. Whether it was the sweet teacher in the 4th grade, or the coach that ran my tail off in high school — they all held a vision of my being and doing better than I was currently doing, they held that as a standard when they related to me, and they cared enough about me to hold me to task when I fell short. (They also all did it lovingly, though it didn’t feel like it sometimes!)

Really want people to change? Try that.

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.

[Note: This essay appeared in David Allen’s Productive Living Newsletter. Subscribe for free here.]

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