Thinking about reaching out to me on behalf of your spouse or significant other? Don’t.
Let me explain.
I’ve worked with three couples in the past, and with each, the wife contacted me, requesting I work with her husband. Often times she felt the husband had no direction and needed some guidance, or she felt he was struggling to communicate well and it was negatively impacting his career.
Whatever the reason, the outcome remained the same: Change never came.
That’s because change, in all its glory, can only happen if the person doing the changing wants it. And if someone else is initiating your transformation for you, chances are you won’t truly be invested.
Take me, for instance. Back when I was immersed in the corporate world, I worked for a company that encouraged an incredible amount of useless communication. The more voicemails you left (even if no one listened to them), the better. The more you spoke up in meetings (even if your point had already been made by someone else), the better.
My boss took note of my reluctance to follow suit, and she encouraged me to reconsider. (My lack of voicemails was a reflection on her, after all.)
The lure of a promotion pushed me to give it a try. I started hustling like I never had before. I left voicemail after voicemail, and I made sure my ideas were heard in very public settings. The result? I realized the corporate world wasn’t for me.
In order to be successful in that environment, I was going to have to make the kind of permanent change I just didn’t want to make. So I stopped, and I left.
We may think someone else needs to change, but often times that says much more about us than it does about them. I think our eagerness to push change on someone else has its roots in control. Perhaps we’ve been in a similar situation before, so we believe fixing it is as simple as doing the very same thing we did. Why don’t they just take our advice? Follow our lead?
This goes for you too, supervisors. If you have someone on your team who you believe needs changing, set up a plan. Communicate your goals and how you’d like that person to adjust his or her style to better meet them. If they’re not on board? Maybe it’s not the right fit, and that’s OK too.
Finally, if someone is coming to you to help them change, ask them what that looks like to them.
Do they need an accountability partner, a cheerleader, an advocate, a sounding board? Remember the change is about them—it’s not about you.
If you’re hoping to make meaningful changes in the New Year, I’m an executive coach who helps clients nationwide with personal and professional development. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.