Internalizing other people’s behaviors and actions


Internalizing Other People’s Behaviors and Actions

Susan, a twenty-four year old manager, gets along with her entire staff except for Bill. Bill is a mature, part-time employee who has worked in the store for about two years. Susan thinks that Bill doesn’t respect her because she’s a young manager. 

I pressed Susan for examples of how Bill disrespects her. Susan said, “He told me he shouldn’t have had to come in for a store meeting on his day off. He thinks because I’m a young manager he should get to decide if a meeting is mandatory or not.” 

I asked for other examples, and they were all basically the same. Susan was taking whatever Bill said or did, and internalized it as it being a comment about her youth. Bill didn’t say a thing about Susan being a young manager. His comments had nothing to do with Susan.

This isn’t just an issue with young managers. An owner I work with said an employee disrespected her by using her cellphone at work in violation of company policy. No, the employee chose to use the phone when she wasn’t allowed to. The owner is internalizing the rest.

Internalizing other people’s behaviors and actions gets in the way of a healthy relationship. It adds a layer of drama that isn’t there and definitely doesn’t need to be there. It also hurts the development of the employee, and can ultimately impact store performance.

How do you stop internalizing someone else’s behaviors and action? Easy. Just take employee and customer comments at face value. Focus on what the person said or did, not what you’re adding to it.

If someone says they don’t like your display, then they don’t like your display. They didn’t say a thing about you personally.

If someone didn’t do what you asked, you need to remind and/or coach the person, but don’t start a whole internal dialogue about him not caring, etc. It’s just getting in the way of you being an effective leader, and the employee being successful.

So let me ask, how often do you internalize other people's behaviors and actions? Remember, the key is to focus on what the other person did or didn’t do, say or didn't say, and leave the rest of the comments in your head behind and out of the way.

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