By: Laura Berger
Do you feel like bad habits and negative thought patterns are holding you back at work? The good news is that you can eliminate them by activating your brain’s delete button. Using neuroplasticity, you can rewire your brain by changing your behavior, thinking and emotions. This means that no one is doomed to be a control freak, conflict avoider or bad listener. Alas, we all have the power to reprogram how we lead and work through problems with focus, commitment and self-compassion.
But, you must first recognize and identify the unwanted thoughts linked to your negative behaviors and as they show up, remind yourself that they are false messages sent by your brain. Like any skill needing development, they can be improved when you take actionable steps to adopt positive behaviors and patterns.
Here are a few of those actionable steps, along with some of my clients’ insights in their own words and suggestions for reaching your full potential:
• Be less controlling. If you demand perfect results and believe that your way of doing things is the only way, it’s time you started letting go. Not only does this mindset increase your workload (Hello, stress!), but it also damages relationships with colleagues and can ultimately hinder your organization’s success. Ironically, the more you relinquish the need to control, the more in control you will feel (Goodbye, stress!). As one client described it in a coaching session:
“The more I relinquish control, the more I’m in control because when I do that, I am more serene, and the serenity is where my greatest power and influence resides. When I’m in that zone, I know that what I say has meaning, is relevant and is the right thing for whatever I’m dealing with. If I’m not there, what I say and how I behave is probably driven more reactively or impulsively …”
Start by challenging yourself to relinquish your need for perfection, remembering that the 80/20 rule not only applies to what your organization does, but what you do as well. By relaxing your standards on certain things, you will become open to alternative ways of doing things and will likely learn something in the process: a win-win.
• Improve your listening. Listening well is critical to effective communication, fostering high performance, strong relationships and greater employee engagement. Becoming a good listener requires proactive practice in conversations and meetings. So, the next time a situation demands your attention, maintain eye contact with the speaker. As you listen to their points, remain attentive and open-minded, as judgment detracts from your listening. Do not interrupt, but rather wait for a pause to ask any clarifying questions. Share any feedback while mirroring the speaker’s sentiments and demeanor. This ensures conversational counterparts know they were heard and their thoughts are valued.
• Embrace conflict. Too many of us allow our egos to cloud our judgment in workplace conflict. And we all know that running away from workplace problems only spirals already undesirable situations further south. In his book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz asserts the importance of taking nothing personally. Instead, respect others’ subjective opinions, realizing that their views don’t necessarily define us accurately. To effectively create separation between the conflict and yourself, adopt the belief, “It’s not about me.” As one client described it in a coaching session:
“It’s not about me. It’s not just me. I have a team … There is a bit of mindset shift that’s happening, and I want to make the best of it. The only way that’s going to happen is if I take charge and stop feeling like things are happening to me. It’s not going to be perfect and that’s okay … There are limits to how much I am going to stress myself out because of what other people may comment on or say. I am taking more control of my day-to-day and my interactions and not fearing the consequences from my boss. They are my choices, and it’s about making them in a way that honors my needs.”
With this mindset, you quickly realize just how rational, assertive and positive you can be during confrontation. So, the next time conflict knocks, leave your ego at the door, and allow growth and learning to take flight.
• Be confident. Don’t waste your brain cycles on false messages that only lower your confidence. Instead, replace the negative self-perception with a positive one and focus on the skills you do have. If you’re constantly telling yourself, “I’m not deserving of a promotion,” change this belief by making a list of the work you put in every day that qualifies you for a promotion or raise. This will culminate in what I call a promotion résumé that will be ready to hand to your superiors at annual review time. If you feel you are still undeserving, think outside the box and ask your boss if you can take on new projects.
A saying credited to Thomas Edison says, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” To create lasting change within yourself and never look back, stay optimistic. Get excited about how empowered you will feel when you successfully act in more positive and constructive ways.
This article originally appeared on www.forbes.com
Featured on ABC News, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Redbook, Self, and the Miami Herald, Laura Berger is a certified executive coach and co-founder of the Berdeo Group. Her clients include leaders at JP Morgan Chase, The Walt Disney World Company, Financial Solutions Advisory Group, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is the co-author of two books: Fall in Love Again Every Day and Radical Sabbatical.