What happens when a business owner has self-destructive or business harming leadership behaviours? What happens when family members don’t get on well in business? What do we do? How do they change?

It makes me think of my favourite skit of all time (watch here), starring Bob Newhart. (Younger clients might struggle to recognise that name!). The premise is a person coming into a psychiatrist’s office with a distressing behaviour. The patient goes on with a long description and the psychiatrist replies with two words “stop it”. She continues with her tales of woe and his volume increases but the message stays the same — STOP IT.

I agree with Bob. It’s easier to stop negative behaviours than it is to establish new ones; most problems in the workplace (and at home) are behavioural. The best part is stopping? It is often enough to make things change.

For example, if you respond to every comment with “but” (a great conversation killer if there ever was one because it basically negates everything the person just said). If you simply stop saying that word, you would be making enormous strides in making the speaker feel heard. No need for something new, simply quit the old.

The list is endless. Here’s a few:

  • Stop interrupting.
  • Stop taking all the credit.
  • Stop doing your staff’s job.
  • Stop blaming others.
  • Stop offering advice to people who don’t want it.
  • Stop using anger as your default emotion.
  • Stop sitting in your chair all day.
  • Stop punishing the messenger.

Like any behaviour change, admitting you do it and then catching yourself in the act is half the battle. Stopping may be the final solution. If you feel the need to take it further, you then have the opportunity to find a replacement and practice it, though you’d be amazed how often these steps are not necessary.

Check yourself. What is it that you do or say that is harmful to yourself and others? We all have something. Can you imagine deleting it from your repertoire? Do you have a trusted colleague who could help you in your quest? Literally keep score (play to your competitive side) and record incremental progress. Don’t be surprised if others notice change before you. It’s very common. Keep a tally of the benefits — how you feel, how others react to you, and what gets done. Venture into other areas and apply the same process. Admit you will stumble along the way but that progress is being made. Look forward and not back. Reward yourself for your accomplishment. Offer yourself as a role model — overtly and behind the scenes.