Author: Catherine Pulsifer, © 2017
The personal example you set will do more to convince someone
than all the eloquent speeches in the world. When you expect
others to demonstrate a certain type of behaviour, ask yourself if your
behaviour exemplifies what you expect of others.
Don't make the crucial mistake of many other types of people who say one
thing and then act totally contrary to what they stated. In other words,
do not adopt the attitude
of "do as I say not as I do".
Personal examples of behavior not only include verbal messages
you send by the way you speak to others but also how you encourage others.
Consistency Is Key
The best part of setting examples is to recognize that you have a
But you must be aware that everything you say is being watched and
every behavior is being noted. It is something like training
a dog to adopt a new behavior. One thing about training,
or setting examples, is that you must be consistent.
For example, in training a dog to sit you must always get the dog
to sit every time you give the command. You cannot allow the dog
to disobey at any time or the dog will think that this command only
applies once and awhile. Consistency is the key just as it is in setting
an example for human consumption.
As Oliver Goldsmith once said,
"You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips."
How To Start
People often ask whether they should begin to think about their influence
on other people as soon as they start their work day. The answer may
surprise some but not others. But, just so we are all on the same page,
let's start at the beginning of the day, i.e. as soon as you wake up.
The point is that as soon as you wake up you are starting to influence
not only those around you but you are also influencing your own attitude
through what you think and what you do. For example, if you have a
spouse, as soon as you awake you are at the very beginning of the
influence cycle. That is to say that if you display a snappy attitude, sultry,
or a "don't bother me" demeanour you are already making
a statement to them and about you. If, for example, your partner
arises earlier than you do and you then encounter them later how
you respond to them, or don't respond to them says a ton about you.
You have, in essence, already shown that you prefer to start your day
on the grumpy or ant-social side of the day.
If you have children in your house, your verbal and body language
are communicated as soon as you see them. If your morning style is
to be less than enthusiastic or grumpy or just plain old silent you have
started your influence cycle.
Waiting Doesn't Help You Change
Unfortunately, if you wait until you arrive at work to start being friendly,
warm and compassionate, you are simply pretending. You, in fact, are not being real. There is an old adage that basically says if you do not feel kind or joyful act as if you do from the get go. This kind of play acting gradually plants an unconscious message in your mind and when you keep this behavior consistent you'll start to become, over time, the way in which you pretend to act.
The point is this: you are who you betray. Your influence is not only what you say but how you say it. Your behavior also incorporates body language signals. If you slump down at your desk at work you are portraying laziness or an uncaring attitude. If you fail to look another person in the eye as they speak to you, you are telling them that they are unimportant and unworthy of your full attention.
Pull By Example
If you take a piece of string and push it, it will not go in the direction you want. But, if you take that same piece of string and pull it along, the string will move in the same direction. That principle applies to people. Don't push them along; pull them along by your own actions, your behaviour, your enthusiasm, and your determination. Reflect on the words of Albert Schweitzer,
"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."
Everyone has an opportunity to set an example even if they think they do not. We set an example with every word, with every motion, and with everything we do or do not say. Some of these examples of behavior are those that we do that we do not expect to observe by others but they happen all the time.
A Misstep To Watch For
On those occasions, when we would rather not be observed setting a poor example, can happen to us all at any time and at any place. Some of these times can occur quite innocently especially when we are over tired or under extreme stress. These are the times, though, that we need to exercise tremendous control over our raw emotions and understand that what we do is what others may also do.
This is extremely important in any family unit despite the fact that they are our closest loved ones. But, it doesn't matter when you slip up and show uncontrolled emotion, it is invariably more often remembered rather than all those times when we were in absolute control and showed the right way to deal with any situation. The advent of not being in control and thereby not setting a proper example is easy to do rather than being in control. Take for example when a driver cuts you off in traffic. The normal reaction is to get angry or give them a rude gesture. But, this only shows that you are letting a circumstance that has no emotion attached to it, the power to exact a response from you.
Tests of Positive Actions and Behavior
Circumstances we confront throughout the day or week or month do not possess a soul nor do they have emotion. We are the ones who give them life through how we react or do not react. For example, take that driver that cut you off in traffic. Maybe they didn't even realize they did it and off they go on their merry way without a care in the world. In the meantime, however, you are fuming with fists gesturing and blood pressure rising. What is the better way to handle this especially if you have passengers like young adults who are about to get their license? Well, for sure, a negative behavior, or an inappropriate behavior or response does not set a positive example.
What about that street beggar you pass on the street corner every day you walk to work? Do you say hello even if you don't give them any change or do you avoid them like they had the plague? What about that movie theatre janitor who you see almost every other weekend? Do you treat them as if they are below you or less important than you are? What about the waitress who serves you at your favorite restaurant? Do you treat him/her as inferior never bothering to thank them for their service even if you leave them a tip?
"The way you think about how you come across to other people should reflect how you want to be treated."
Think about everyone you meet throughout the course of the day. Remember the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
"What you do, and how you act, has more influence on people than what you say!"
"Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means."
"When asked to summarize my leadership philosophy, I pair it down to
this: I live by example. I work hard, serving others honestly and ethically."
Christian Motley, Leadership Philosophies From Unsung Leaders
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