We are all the product of our habits. What we do regularly defines our level of success. Bad habits, good habits are all the same, in terms of the production of results, so the input point not the process, becomes very interesting for those wanting to succeed. How do we ensure that we are adding good habits and eliminating bad habits?
Part of the input process is selection of priorities. Going to the gym rather than the sports bar is a choice. Eating that donut rather than an apple is a choice. Discipline is a famed part of military life and various slacker generations are recommended compulsory military service as a way to fly straight. Where does this military discipline come from? Regular habits are a big part. Doing specific things at the precise same time, in the same way without variation instills habits. Doing things that must be done, regardless of how you feel about wanting to do them, instills disciplines, which become habits. You don’t have to join the military to garner good habits but becoming more disciplined is a big help.
Our biggest successes come from our ability to work with other people. There are very few professions where you can do everything on your own and don’t need to input, cooperation or contribution of others. We pick up bad habits that damage our ability to garner that input, cooperation and collaboration. Here are a few we can eliminate if we want a smoother path to success.
1. Don’t make it your habit to complain to or about others.
When others complain about us to others and we hear about it, what is the usual reaction? Generally not good and animosities arise and can linger for many years, as the result of what is considered an unwarranted assault on our good name. So if you want to create a blood feud, then start publically whining about your colleagues. If you have a beef with someone and you heroically decide to confront them with their failings, then expect either the silent assassin who won’t say much but will be seeking revenge at the first opportunity or the combustible who will explode right there and then and counter attack ferociously. Very few individuals will look deep inside their heart, saint like, and admit their errors and bow to your superior judgment. You have just made an enemy for life.
If the chances of success in complaining are so low, then why do people persist in thinking they can right the world by drawing other’s attention to their failings? Habit and a major lack of self-awareness are culprits. Find a more subtle way to draw attention to problems which allow that person to save face. Call out the error indirectly. The issue will be raised but not the animosity. Make this your habit rather than a surgical first strike.
2. Help others to want what you want and make that style of communication your habit
When we are direct and assertive, it comes across like giving orders and few people like being told what to do. Yes, you can gain compliance and they will do it, if you are higher in the power structure, but you won’t win the hearts and minds to the cause. Be a more skilled communicator and look for ways to stimulate self-discovery on their part that leads them to see the wisdom of the solution, that we have identified as the best way forward. Questions are our friends here and statements our enemies. A statement will trigger resistance, whereas a well crafted question will lead to self-enlightenment. Make asking well thought out questions your habit, rather than firing off statements like missiles.
3. Make it a habit to be a good listener, you will become more persuasive as a result
It sounds counter-intuitive doesn’t it, listening rather than telling your way to success. Hollywood has glorified the riveting, moving oratory that rouses the masses and points them in the same direction. In the real world of business, this is a useful skill known only to a miniscule minority.
The vast majority will not be able to inspire their colleagues to man the barricades anytime soon, but they can persuade them to do more mundane tasks like ensure the organisation goes forward and prospers. When we shut up and allow other to speak we learn a lot more.
We uncover their desires, thoughts, attitudes, hot buttons, beliefs, fears, interests etc. By knowing each other better, we can become closer through better communication around points of agreement and shared interests. It is hard to disagree with someone you like. The reason you like them is because of those shared interest and ideas etc. The reason you know those things is because you weren’t hogging the airwaves and doing all the talking.
The caveat here is that you are genuinely interested in them. A predatory listener, hoping to scoop up enough material to manipulate the other person into doing their bidding, is not a creating a success habit. People are not stupid and we can all spot fake interest pretty quickly. The wielder of the fake interest weapon will cut themselves, as others realize they cannot be trusted.
4. Craft the appreciation habit
Self-centered people are always on about themselves and what they did and how great they are. They can linger long on their superior qualities and accomplishments but are rather parsimonious about recognizing the achievements of others. These people wonder why no one wants to help them and they get so little cooperation. Flattery is not appreciation. It is a lie that is hoisted pretty quickly. The fake praise alarm goes off inside our heads almost immediately we hear it, so it has zero impact, except to never trust the perpetrator. Honest and sincere appreciation is what resonates with us.
The reason we know it is genuine is because of the way it is communicated to us. General statements like "good job", "well done" are in danger of setting off that mental alarm. When we select the action or behavior that was "good", we now begin to make it real rather than dubious. Concrete examples add truth to our words and resonate with the listener. Tell them exactly what they did that was good and it will be real. Appreciate people as a habit and do it in some detail that makes it credible.
We are the sum of our habits and that sum determines our success with others. Habits can be learnt and cultivated at any stage in life. We will definitely have habits one way or another so why nor make a conscious choice to use these habits to be better with others for a smoother path and a happier life.
Some actions items going forward for good habit cultivation:
1.Don’t complain to or about others
2.Help others to want what you want
3.Become persuasive by being a good listener
4.Give honest, sincere appreciation