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Workplace tip: Change Yourself, Not Others

Francie Dalton, author, Versatility: How to Optimize Interactions When 7 Workplace Behaviors Are at Their Worst, says that the secret to successful workplace interactions lies not in trying to change others but in adjusting your behavior effectively and tailoring your communication. ($32.95, available at Here are her six tips on how to do that.

1. Realize that behavior is a tool we all deploy to secure a desired outcome. Instead of allowing yourself to be baited by others’ behavior, consider what the individual is using his/her behavior to achieve. Once you have clarity on their desired outcome, you’re equipped to more quickly identify effective methods for reducing acrimony.

2. In business interactions, consistently strive to subordinate the desire to feeling-based behavior to behaving in a way that facilitates the acquisition of needed business results.

3. Two-year-olds get to have tantrums. Adolescents get to have meltdowns. When professionals engage in emotionally volatile or immature behavior, it reflects badly on both the individual and the organization. What resonates with and catches the attention of those with the power to promote you is behavior that is poised and unflappable, even amid the provocative actions of others.

4. Focus on the Four “Ps”: Pay attention to others’ behavior. Identify Patterns in their behavior. Noticing patterns in others’ behavior helps you to Predict their behavior. Equipped with this knowledge, you can Package your own behavior accordingly.

5. Make it your goal this year to develop an increased awareness of what you’re doing that impedes your interpersonal success, and to learn specifically how to modify your approaches to become more effective.

6. Developing versatility will help fast-track your relational effectiveness. Personal versatility will increase the ease with which you succeed, and the frequency with which you emerge as flameproof – even from high stakes venues. (OK…OK…maybe you’ll still be a little singed around the edges – but, hey – that’s a lot better than toasted!)

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