As I reflect back on this week, the topic of responsibility comes to mind. Several clients are carrying a heavy weight of responsibility. In each situation, my clients are frustrated the other person is not taking responsibility to generate the agreed outcome. More simply put, they want the other person to change their behavior and by doing so generate a different outcome. Does this sound familiar? I know I fall into this story more often than I would like to admit.
Why Don’t Other People Change?
It is frustrating. If the other person changed their behavior everything would be ok. As you already know, getting someone else to change their behavior is far from easy, maybe even impossible. I learned many things from Bob Dunham, one of my teachers, but one thing comes to mind related to this topic. People only change if they believe the change is in their interest. It doesn’t matter how much we want the other person to change, they will only change if they want to.
Coming back to my clients; willing those around us to change won’t work. Our responsibility is not to try harder, exert more control or use other preferred modes of persuasion. All we can do is outline why the change is important and clearly outline the implications of not changing. We aren’t responsible for their decision. We are responsible to give them room to choose and accept the consequences of their decision.
What Are We Responsible For?
By doing this, we have to shift our own behavior. Rather than solely focus on what we want to happen, we have to be willing to accept the consequences of the other person’s decision. And this might uncover the underlying problem, that we aren’t ready or willing to accept the consequences of their decision. What if they decline and say no? What will happen? In other words, we are clinging on to a hope that things will turn out how we desire, when they really aren’t going to.
Is it time to move on?