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4 Pillars of Positive Behavioural Change in the Workplace

[5 min read]

How to successfully enhance productivity, wellbeing and human potential.


Challenging behaviours can have an enormous negative impact on organisations and day-to-day operations, destroy long-term business relationships, as well as severely affect individuals on a physical, mental and emotional level.  Studies show that over 50% of illnesses are caused by personal behaviours – surely, this confirms the importance of heightening our confidence to successfully deal with challenging behaviours. We can learn to apply the necessary steps to enhance productivity and wellbeing through behavioural change.  


There are a couple of basic points we need to understand before we can dive into the rather complex subject of behavioural change.

We influence ourselves and others with everything we do. The question we must ask ourselves though is: “Am I influencing myself and others in a positive and resourceful way or not?” For example, reading this article will influence you one way or another through the acquisition of new information, concepts and strategies, providing you with different perspectives and viewpoints.

The other point is that human beings are complex creatures and difficult behaviours are mainly caused by differences in Values, Wants, Needs, and Expectations. Although our Ego ultimately is there to protect us, it loves complexity and does not always serve us in an empowering way. It can lead us to fear-driven behaviours, because it is all about: knowing, judging, justifying, being right, looking good and/or getting even.


Great managers and leaders can help pre-empt arising problems and issues and encourage positive workplace behaviours. Following are the 4 pillars of positive behavioural change in the workplace, explained in detail:


Pillar 1 - Understand behaviours and how we create our reality

We have over 2 million pieces of information presented to us every single second. If we had to consciously process and absorb all this information, we would be overwhelmed, close down and no longer be able to function. It would take millions and millions of decisions to know what to do. Fortunately, your mind protects you, and deletes nearly all that information, until you are left with 134 bits out of 2 million. These are then chunked into around 7 +/-2 per second. And the 7 chunks out of 2 million units of information is what we call OUR REALITY!? (A more detailed explanation on this META Communication Model is covered in a previous blog.)

No matter what is happening in your life, you can only interpret the events according to how you perceive the world. And that explains why no two people can view the same event and recall it in the exact same way. They will recall it differently. Because their minds have trained themselves to delete and distort what is not relevant to that person.

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So, what are we leaving out, and what would we actually need? What if we are filtering out the very things that would create more positive behaviours and maximise potential?  What have we deleted, distorted and generalised in the past? What is it we are leaving out and what do we need to start filtering in? If we are not satisfied with the way we perceive the world and the results we get, we must change our filters.

To change behaviours, simply change anything that happens before the behaviours are created. Giving a situation or event a more positive meaning will create positive emotions that support positive actions and behaviours, which ultimately create positive outcomes and results.

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Pillar 2 - Separate the person from the behaviours

People are not their behaviours - Accept the person, and calibrate their behaviours and appreciate their positive intention

You need to find out what their positive intentions are. Ultimately, we all want the same. We want to be respected, appreciated, valued and loved. So, when we or other people behave in weird ways, don’t judge the person on their behaviours. Instead, look beyond the behaviours and ask yourself what’s triggering that behaviour and what the person is trying to achieve.

This does not mean that you view the other person’s behaviour as positive. You may even find it quite disrespectful, or rude, or appalling. However, you need to look behind their behaviour to appreciate their positive intention.

When we look at the intention behind the behaviour, we might find that the person simply wants to be understood, appreciated and respected (even though at that point this meant screaming at you or undermining you as their best or even their only way of getting your attention and achieving their needs, wants and expectations).


Be curious; the more you know about yourself and other peoples’ thinking and map of the world, the more you can positively influence them. Once you have a good understanding of their positive intention, explore alternative and more resourceful ways to help the person achieve their needs to ultimately positively influence behavioural change.


Pillar 3 – Embrace a positive organisational culture

A great company culture makes employees look forward to going to work, deal with less stress and be more productive. It is the alpha and omega of influencing positive behaviours, motivating team members and getting the best out of your workforce to achieve new heights.

Managers and leaders can have a great impact by fostering the right environment that nurtures initiative, curiosity, flexibility, resilience, persistence, adaptability, social & cultural awareness, and much more. With this approach we create a safe and supportive space for increased growth, excellence, productivity and wellbeing.

A positive workplace environment is where people know they make a difference, where they feel that they matter, that they belong and can contribute. It is an environment, where we regularly remind ourselves of past, great achievements to increase our motivation and shift our focus to empowerment and possibilities.

One very simple but highly effective way of introducing cultural change is embracing and actively using Positive Language. Positive Language is when we say we actually want, rather than what we don’t want, and focus on solutions rather than problems. Using for example “I choose”, “I can” and “I desire” rather than “I must”, “I want”, “I need”, “I should”, I shouldn’t” is much more motivating and empowering, and will introduce solution-based thinking rather than problem-focused thinking across the board.


Pillar 4 – Know what you can change and what you can’t

As much as we need to learn to take responsibility for our actions (and inactions), as much do we have to learn to let go of the things we cannot control. So, let’s gain some clarity around what is in your control and what’s not when it comes to behavioural change.


Well, there is actually only ONE thing that we have 100% control over, and that is the CERTAINTY WITHIN ourselves. And this ‘Certainty Within’ is based on only TWO things:

  1. The way we interpret events in life
  2. and therefore, how we respond to them.

How we respond to challenging situations and difficult behaviours will influence the people around us, in other words our workplace, home, or other environment. This is our circle of influence, where we have some control. Where our circle of influence stops, is also where our control and responsibility stop, because it is the other person’s responsibility and choice how they will interpret our response, and what changes they want to make. This is where their control starts. (More details on the Circle of Influence are available in a previous article.)

What we can do is being a role model to our employees in how we conduct ourselves, how we handle situations and how we motivate ourselves. If we want to positively influence behavioural change, we must put our time and energy to where we can actually achieve an outcome and make a difference.


One last thought for you to take away:


If you believe that the other person or the situation is the problem, you are at effect and hand over all the power by believing you don’t have any. And if the other person or situation really IS the problem, wouldn’t you prefer to have as much control or empowerment as possible, to deal with the situation effectively by influencing the other person’s behaviour in a positive way?

¬ Martin Probst


This mindset of excellence brings empowerment, helps you to step up, position yourself in the best possible emotional state and positively influence behavioural change in yourself and those around you.


“Dare to make a difference!”

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