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The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition

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VOL. 36 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 14, 2012

Behave yourself more productively

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Let’s talk about a zero-cost strategy that can significantly improve the productivity and job satisfaction of your employees. The strategy involves understanding four major behavior modes referred to as the Stern Parent, Adapted Child, Adult and Natural Child.

Behavior in this context simply means the way one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others. Mode means the way or manner something occurs, is experienced, expressed or done.

Here’s the bottom line on this strategy: two of the behavior modes can be classified as the most used/least effective ways of interacting (MU/LE) and the other two can be classified as the least used/most effective (LU/ME) ways of interacting. As you can quickly tell from this statement, most people have things backwards.

Step one in shifting from the MU/LE to the LU/ME behavior modes involves being able to recognize different modes. Here are some “cheat sheet” notes to help you begin to recognize the various behavior modes.

People operating in the Stern Parent mode are critical, controlling and judgmental. They often use stern, intimidating body language, words and voice tone. These are often people we speak of as “sometimes wrong, but never in doubt.” They argue and attack others and are focused on proving they are right and others are wrong. Unfortunately, these people often contribute to establishing a dysfunctional and autocratic company culture.

People operating in the Adapted Child mode modify their natural behavior due to the influence of another person (usually an authority figure). They often complain excessively, act defensive, whine, withdraw and feel powerless and helpless. They are usually overly compliant, but can sometimes switch and become overly rebellious.

People operating in the Adult mode exchange and process information without bias. They examine and explore alternatives, compute probabilities and consequences of the alternatives. They frequently ask questions to clarify and better understand others. Others often see them as unflappable, grounded, centered and constantly work to see the reality of the events that unfold.

People operating in the Natural Child mode respond honestly and spontaneously. They freely feel joy, surprise and amazement. They have no preconceived idea of how they should or should not feel. This behavior mode helps people generate hopes, dreams and aspirations. In this mode, people often think, “What would happen if…?” Personal growth occurs in the Natural Child with the assistance of the Adult mode.

Now that you understand a little bit about the different behavior modes, which ones do you think are the most effective and least effective? I think all you need to do to answer this question is to imagine being on the other side of someone using each of these behavior modes.

Let me ask you a Natural Child question – What would happen in your organization if everyone shifted from the MU/LE modes to the LU/ME modes of behavior?

Oh by the way, if you are reading this and you are the “top dog” of your organization … this all starts with you. Remember, this is a zero-cost strategy. Why not give it a try?

Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through www.dmetraining.com.