To help us break bad habits Marshall Goldsmith in his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There has created a seven-step method for changing our interpersonal relationships and making changes permanent.
Step 1 Seek Feedback
Successful people have two problems dealing with negative feedback. (a) they don’t want to hear it and (b) we don’t want to give it to them. To break this chain and gain the benefit of feedback, they need to let go of the past, tell the truth and be supportive, without being a cynic, critic, or judge!
Step 2 Apologising
You say, ‘I’m sorry.’ You add, ‘I’ll try to do better in the future.’ And then . . . you say nothing. Don’t explain it or justify it. When it comes to apologising, the only sound advice is get in and get out as quickly as possible. The sooner you can get the apology over with, the sooner you can move on.
Step 3 Advertising
After you apologise, you must advertise. It’s not enough to tell everyone that you want to get better; you must declare exactly in what area you plan to change. In other words, now that you’ve said you’re sorry, what are you going to do about it? Eventually the message sinks in and people start to accept the possibility of a new improved you.
Step 4 Listening
The thing about listening that escapes most people is that they think of it as a passive activity. You don’t have to do anything. Not true. Good listeners regard what they do as a highly active process—with every muscle engaged, especially the brain. To learn from people, you must listen to them with respect. It’s not enough to keep our ears open; we have to demonstrate that we are totally engaged.
Step 5: Thanking
Thanking works because it expresses one of our most basic emotions: gratitude. When someone does something nice for you, they expect gratitude—and they think less of you for withholding it. When you thank people for helping you, you’re admitting that you needed help in the first place—which is one way to pinpoint your deficiencies. If you didn’t need to improve in a specific area, you wouldn’t have needed another person’s help. It helps you identify your old weak spots (which may still be weaker than you think).
Step 6: Following Up
Follow-up is how you measure your progress. Follow-up is how we remind people that we’re making an effort to change, and that they are helping us. Follow-up is how we acknowledge to ourselves and others that getting better is an ongoing process, not a temporary conversion. More than anything, follow-up makes us do it.
Step 7: Practicing Feedforward
Feedforward asks you to do four simple steps:
- Pick the one behaviour that you would like to change which would make a significant, positive difference in your life.
- Describe this objective in a one-on-one dialogue with anyone you know.
- Ask that person for two suggestions for the future that might help you achieve a positive change in your selected behaviour.
- Listen attentively to the suggestions. Your only ground rule: You are not allowed to judge, rate, or critique the suggestions in any way.
So, there we have it. What got you here won’t get you there – unless you break the habit.