How to Change Behaviour at Work

I just finished a three day Masters level coaching course with The Behavioural Coaching Institute that summarized the latest research, models, and techniques on how to change behaviour at work.  I was keen to take the course because most of my clients need to change their leadership style and adjust their behaviour in some way to get the results they want.  What I have noticed is that clients may have logical reasons for wanting to change, but if their emotions don’t line up with the thinking, they get blocked. In the course I learned about all aspects of behaviour change, yet the piece that was new and meaningful for me was learning about the emotional barriers to change.  Specifically, I learned how to use a coaching technique called Emotional Replacement. The idea behind the technique is that behaviour change happens mostly by engaging a person’s emotions and feelings, and a key to behaviour change is facilitating an emotional connection to the change, rather than just a logical one.  To me, this made intuitive sense.  For example, my client Shaun knows that he needs to talk to his boss about his behaviour at a recent meeting, but he is so fearful of his bosses’ reaction that he can’t bring himself to do it.  The emotion is blocking him.

Using the emotional replacement technique, I learned how to unlock the emotion in a coaching session, so the client moves from a negative to a positive frame of reference.  The process involves identifying the negative emotions that a client is experiencing about a certain situation, and then having them imagine a different scenario that elicits positive feelings.  Then, you essentially swap out the negative for the positive emotions, and you see how this emotional replacement shifts the client’s feelings about what is happening in the present.  This emotional replacement is powerful because it shifts perspectives, and beliefs, and it elicits a different physiological and neurological response.  The positive emotions also relax the person, and being in a relaxed state is one key for making mindful choices.

My key take away was....when trying to change behaviour, if you work on the thoughts and actions without addressing the emotions and feelings, your probability of success goes way down.  There are lots of simple ways to work with emotions that will feel natural in a coaching session and resonate with  leaders who work in the corporate world.