There is always a reason for behaviour | Blog | MFL Global

There is always a reason for behaviour- (Even the really irritating stuff)

Have you ever experienced any of the following situations and frustrations?

  • You are running a team meeting and very few of the team contribute? It feels like you are pulling teeth at times to get anyone to say anything?
  • People don’t follow through with agreed actions identified in a project meeting.
  • A once previously high performer, seems to have lost their mojo, their sparkle, their levels of high performance.
  • You float ideas and suggestions into a meeting and they seem to float straight out of the window. None of your ideas land.
  • You put your whole being into developing a compelling corporate vision, and strategy, and no-one seems to be as keen as you on bringing it to life,
  • You have clearly articulated corporate values, and they are visible around the business on walls, by the coffee machines, etc. Yet no-one seems to know them, let alone live them.
  • Your team have distanced themselves from you, and you sense they don’t contact you as much as before, so you are often left in the dark.
  • Someone picks holes in your report and can tell you how many full stops you missed but doesn’t comment on all the hard work and effort you put into compiling the report.

And I could go on, with a myriad of typical day to day frustrations and irritations, as I am sure you could too.  If you have experienced these, and more, and would love some ideas and tools to help understand, and perhaps resolve these, please do read on.

First: A question for you: Have you ever stopped to consider why any of the above happen? Scratched beneath the surface? Knowing “why” is a really useful starting place in mitigating against these situations in the future.

All the above are simply, behaviours.  Behaviours triggered as a result of the current or past experience of the listener/audience or driven by their personality profile. People are not born: irritating, demanding, negative, annoying, yet every one of us is capable of demonstrating these behaviours if certain conditions exist for us.

A really useful one-liner which enables us to remain objective in the face of such behaviours is to remember: There is always a reason for behaviour. The more we understand the why”, the easier it is to remain objective and adopt an Adult mentality, which enables us to respond proactively and in a positive manner.

The Iceberg Model of human behaviour becomes such a useful tool to help us understand the “Why”, as shown below. Below the waterline are the drivers of behaviour and at the waterline and sometimes tickling along just below the surface, or sometimes very visible, are our feelings. See below for the cycle of events.

The cycle of events: What people THINK, (about their experience, or their knowledge etc.) determines how they FEEL, which in turn determines how they BEHAVE, (and their feelings “leak” into their behaviour and become visible) which results in the OUTCOME.




So, for example: if every time you go to a meeting, your boss does all the talking, pushes their ideas forward, perhaps interrupts you each time you try to speak, I imagine the next meeting you go to you THINK it is probably going to be another waste of your time, so you FEEL disinclined to speak as it seems pointless, so your BEHAVIOUR is seen as negative, and the OUTCOME is, more wasted time in what becomes a pointless meeting and the likelihood is that you might find a reason not to attend the next one, or pay scant attention if you have to attend..

Suggested remedy: If, however, your boss: Begins with the end in mind, (Covey) takes responsibility for the participants, structures the meeting well, (clear objective, ground rules established, agenda circulated etc.) builds in a process within the meeting that allows everyone to contribute, involves and includes everyone, and acknowledges individual contributions: WOO HOO! The outcome is way more positive for everyone!

There is always a reason for behaviour. If you want positive behaviours and responses, people need to FEEL positive, inspired, involved, appreciated, valued, listened to and so on. Sometimes, just telling yourself: “It’s just their Iceberg” helps explain so much without needing to delve into specifics, therefore enables you to be more understanding, and more tolerant of the difficult behaviour.

And a good question to always ask, but which takes a very open mind and a dollop of humility is: “Am I in any way contributing to this behaviour?”

If you want to know more on this topic or discover some useful and practical tools and solutions, please do contact Mary Tillson, our head of Momentum and Executive Learning.

And if you are interested in some more possible reasons for the issues shared at the start of this article, please read this: Possible reasons for the issues shared.