Have you ever been in a relationship (whether romantic or platonic) and felt frustration about how things were going -- wishing the other person would behave differently? You have tried being nice, coaching them to change (whether they knew it or not) and spent hours considering how impossible it is that someone couldn’t notice how inappropriate and unsatisfying their behavior is? We have all experienced it. Sometimes we can just let it go and sometimes it gets so bad we find ourselves in a divorce, looking for a new job or estranged from a friend or loved one.
People try all kinds of tactics to get other people to change. If you are trying to force or prompt change for someone else, you might as well spend your time trying to nail jello to a wall. Don’t despair…there is hope for improved relationships! There are seven options that you have. Only seven. Here are your options:
1. Ignore the person or situation – This works in very short term situations. Sometimes just buttoning up and going with it can save a relationship. This is best done when the problem is situational and there is no higher value or importance within the difficulty. If there is an important value being challenged, this is not the right option.
2. Try to change the person or situation – Anyone that has tried this approach knows that there is little to be gained from it. We have little to no power over others. People only change on their own accord, for their own reasons and in their own time.
3. Change your attitude/perspective – We have power over how we think and how we look at different situations. Often we default to a particular lens or perspective because that is comfortable. However, if we slow down and think through a relationship or situation, we potentially could see it differently, with different meaning.
4. Change your behavior – Like our attitude and perspectives, we have the power to change our behavior. In the beginning, new behaviors may feel awkward or unnatural, but with practice we can improve how we approach others and manage our own stress.
5. Change your attitude/perspective and your behavior – Imagine the possibilities! By taking time and energy to change the way we think and act, we have the power to really affect the outcomes of our relationships!
6. Pretend you have changed – There are situations when this option can work. If the situation/person is a short term engagement and you “just need to get through it”, then “fake it until you make it”. Also, this option works if you are actually trying to change. Sometimes pretending we have new skills helps us to focus on trying them out until they feel natural.
7. Leave – In times of danger, this is always the best option. However, if leaving seems like the right choice just because it is easy, think what other options might bring more meaningful results.
Think through your options. Obviously, each situation is different and needs to be considered on its own merits. To learn more about how to use these seven options, contact Elliott Kronenfeld through this website or by email at Elliott@insightbrookline.com.