Thursday, March 15, 2012

We are teachers all the time . . .

How powerful are models? Very powerful. The folks at Crucial Skills provide a great example: They sent a researcher to cut in a long line at the movie theater in front of another research associate who was pretending to wait in line. The research associate politely said, "I'm sorry, perhaps you're unaware. We've been standing in line for half an hour." The line cutter apologized and moved to the end of the line.

How did this modeling change others' behavior?

"We then waited a few minutes and cut in front of the person who was standing just behind our research associate who spoke up. Would the subjects take their cue from the person who said something? . . . 85 percent of the observers said the exact same thing when one of our colleagues cut in front of them.

Demonstrating a simple, polite, and apparently effective script provided observers with the motive to step up to a problem they normally would have avoided. Individuals who would normally have said nothing, once exposed to a positive example now spoke their minds."

When someone speaks over others in a meeting at work (the equivalent of cutting the line), speak up! Respectfully and calmly say, "I'd like to hear the rest of So 'n So's comments and then hear yours. Would you please let her finish?" You will find that most everyone in the room not only appreciates it, but are willing to step in the next time.

How about you? Have you ever seen people take important actions to help a group overcome an individual's misbehavior? Has that action led to others' actions that support the group's working together?

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