How do I get someone to change?
IF you are not in touch with the feelings and needs of the one that you wish would change, then I would URGE you to focus there. This applies to personal and professional relationships. Adults and children.
I’m not just speaking of an intellectual understanding though …
Connection at this deeper level to underlying feelings and needs, is a precursor to change AND it’s incredibly powerful and more supportive of the relationship. It may mean that the person has the space to realise a less costly way emotionally or relationally – therefore from within themselves a decision to change could arise. Let that not be your objective though. The more any of us feel coerced into change, the more resistance and a desire for choice comes up. I’m sure you’ve felt that.
Shifting to this approach may also bring you peace. It may help you shift into accepting the other’s choices. This too is helpful in removing a deadlock on an issue. Believe me you want that deadlock to move, unless you are reaching a bottom-line in the relationship.
Our resistance to offering and exploring such deep understanding, may be that we fear that if we truly accept what is, then nothing will change. Often the result is quite the reverse. Or we are fearful that we will then need to accept that we are not comfortable being with that person. The latter may be hugely and unnecessarily presumptive.
It’s also common to get stuck (still acting out your own part of the disconnection cycle) trying perpetually to get the other to understand your feelings needs. That comes later.
Lasting, genuine change comes when a person themselves realises the cost of their choices and wants a less costly way of meeting their needs. e.g. say someone smokes. The way I recommend this is by being present to them, listening in the way we learn to in Connection Essentials
Our smoker is certainly meeting needs e.g. relaxation, soothing or maybe solitude and if they recognise the cost of that strategy i.e. THEIR other needs not met e.g. health, self-care, community; they will naturally be motivated to find an alternative to smoking that still meets their original need.
And of course we WANT them to meet their original need.
No amount of educating, poking and pleading with our feelings and unmet needs will usually trigger change. That can even be done in what appears to be Nonviolent Communication way – yet it is not. Because it has a fixed agenda and therefore the communication isn’t coming from the first priority being connection.
CONNECT first to THEM – can you open up to the beautiful beautiful needs they are trying to meet and genuinely open your heart and want them to meet that need?
When the above is complete … Part two may see you letting them know that it’s not contributing to your need for X Y Z. They generally have a desire to contribute to us. We all like to contribute… bar maybe 2% of the population.
CHECK please if you REALLY have stepped in their shoes first and have a softness in your heart toward them about the needs they are trying to meet. I could almost write that all in caps, I feel so strongly about how this is the crucial point for many of us.
Usually any resistance they have to hearing us or changing is coming from the feeling that their needs have not and are not being valued and honoured. For them to be asked to change and meet your needs seems like another example of their needs not mattering and not so likely to be met.
When our needs matter to someone we feel that WE matter to them. That’s so natural. Be careful not to mix that up. Someone NOT meeting our needs does not equal not loving us. It might mean that they are just not able to or willing to, at that time. It could be they feel overwhelmed with our needs and hear demands.
I write this from personal experience too from both sides of this equation. What’s that song? I’ve looked at this from all sides now ….
I’d like to see comments back about this.. it is quite contrary to what many of us have learned about change… AND all too often the agenda of “I want you to change” is alive and driving how we show up in interactions.
Deep listening and blame-free, demand-free vulnerability on your part will go a long way. If you want support for this let me know. We cover these skills in Connection Essentials.
This is a big hot topic! Worth getting on top of!