Changing Other People

We all know that we can’t change other people.

Right?

And it is true. Ultimately. But you can affect so much more change than you think you can. Consider this quote:

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Because we do in fact contribute to the way that others act toward us.  Once I believe my work partner is “unreliable,” I may start to make comments about it, or I look for all the ways in which he is unreliable and I bring those to his attention.  I do not look for anything that might mean that I am wrong about him.  Because I have characterized him.  And we humans like to be right about people.  We like to know “how people are.”  But people change constantly.  If you allow it.

To me the most important thing about the Goethe quote above is to look for what you would like to see in people.  If I find my work partner unreliable certainly I can talk to him about it.  But also I can watch for times he shows up on time and I can watch for the things he does for me and the business that are useful and helpful and I can comment on those things.

Not only will this let him know that I am seeing him differently, but I will also actually start to see him differently.  You certainly cannot “change” other people.  But you can change how you see them, and you can create an environment in which the best part of them comes out.