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Why People Behave The Way They Do.

Have you sometimes found yourself annoyed, frustrated, or confused by someone else’s behavior? Do you sometimes ask yourself questions like this…

Why are some people always late – for meetings, project deadlines or even lunch? Why do some people interrupt you all the time?

Why do some people say good morning and others don’t? Why is it so important for some people to meet deadlines while others don’t?

And, how often do you find yourself saying, “I don’t understand why he (or she) is behaving like that.” Or, “I don’t agree with that kind of behavior.”?

The answer is deceptively simple and very powerful. People behave the way they do because…

Their behavior gets them what they want. Nothing more or less. It gets them what they want. This is the reason they are behaving the way they do.

And, as a consequence, they won’t change their behavior until it stops getting them what they want.

Now, here’s the interesting part. While you are asking yourself about the other person’s behavior, they may be saying the same thing about your behavior, “I don’t understand why he (or she) is behaving like that”.

In other words, you aren’t alone in wondering why someone behaves the way they do. It’s a universal question. And, the answer is universal.

You are behaving the way you’re behaving because your behavior is getting you what you want.

So, let’s test this.

Why are some people late for meetings, project deadlines or even lunch?

Again, the answer is simple.

The consequences for ‘being late’ aren’t ‘punishing enough’ and there are no real rewards for being on time.

Their behavior is getting them what they want.

You may have also seen something like this in your personal life. For example, if you are around someone who gets mad when they don’t get their way. If getting mad works for them and they get what they want when they get mad, they’ll continue to get mad because it keeps giving them want what they want.

If you are on the receiving end of this behavior and that’s OK with you, then their behavior will continue.

But one day you might say you’ve had enough and if their behavior doesn’t change, you will end the relationship.

At that point, the other person has to ask themselves, ‘Is the reward for changing my behavior greater than the punishment for not changing it?’. If the answer is ‘no’, nothing will change. If the answer is ‘yes’, they may then be motivated to consider changing their behavior.

In most cases, this journey requires raising one’s awareness around the ’causes’ of behavior.

And, for all of us, these ’causes’ are rooted in many things including our personalities (which includes among other things, our comfort with ‘disagreement’) and our belief systems (which includes among other things, our self-talk).

Here’s what you can do about this: If you are uncomfortable with someone’s behavior, forgive yourself for being uncomfortable and take the risk to let them know you are having an issue with their behavior. You may be surprised with the outcome.


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