Saturday, April 4, 2009
By Bobbie McKee
A lot of adages tell us that we cannot make people change.
An old dog cannot learn new tricks, says one; a zebra cannot
change its stripes, says another. But one adage does go,
"There is nothing more permanent than change." How can you
reconcile the fact that you can still change no matter how
old you are?
Does this mean that there are ways for people to mend their
ways? Thankfully, there is hope for you to be able to change
people and motivate them to do better. Here are a few tips
that you can take into account when you would like to take
on the monumental task of convincing someone to change.
- An adage goes, "Acceptance comes before change," and this
is something that is true no matter what the occasion or
thing that you want changed. You cannot simply go smashing
and hurtling and driving headlong into a person's life, and
act as the revolutionary whirlwind that will enact change.
Change must go slowly, and if it goes too fast, you can
expect reversion to occur quickly as well. When starting out
a friendship, accept a person's faults first. Make sure that
you set the stage for that person to change because he or
she wants to, not because you demanded it and that person
simply feels it to be an obligation.
- Try some dolphin training. What do trainers do to motivate
animals to do tricks? They reward animals for a job well
done and ignore animals if they do something wrong. This
actually works with people as well. You know the
exhilaration when you get that raise after years of working
hard, that medal after all your hard work in school, that
baby after all your hours in painful labor. But you also
know how painful it is to be ignored and shown indifference.
When you are pleased with someone's actions, reward that
person with a smile, a compliment, even a treat at a nearby
ice cream parlor, if you are so inclined. But when that same
person acts badly and you want that person to change, avoid
a confrontation: ignore the person instead, and let that
person vent until the dust settles and he or she feels that
you are ignoring him or her. Repeat until you have the
results that you want.
- Be patient. Change does not happen overnight. If you want
a person to change quickly, you are treading into uncertain
waters. And if that person does change quickly, you are
bound to be heartbroken on two fronts: first, that person
could easily be changed and swayed to do anything, and you
are stuck with a pushover; and second, that person could
quickly revert to old times and hurt you again. You need to
muster up a lot of courage and patience to have to deal with
- Be gentle. You may be tempted to get mad at a friend for
hurting you over and over, and you may be tempted to shout
and throw a tantrum. You will only add fire to a flame, and
you can risk getting yourself hurt without having any
significant changes happening. Try talking calmly to your
friend, and then leave it at that.
- Don't be afraid to walk away. Sometimes, leaving a person
to find himself or herself can be a powerful way to make a
person actually change for the better.