Learning 2008: Your behaviour defines your succes

I am at a resort in Disney world at Elliott Masie’s Learning 2008 event. There is a true abundance of sessions, workshops, fireside chats and magic (it is Disney after all). I will be trying to do some semi-live blogging about what I see.

This morning we had a general session where Masie interviewed a couple of people on the main stage. There were two that I found particularly interesting.

Arch Lustberg is a very senior (literally) communication adviser. He was talking about the different (vice) presidential candidates and how their communication styles are perceived by the public. His conclusion is that all of them are only successful when they stop being a bad actor (trying to be something they are not) and become good performers. It is authenticity that builds trust. He spoke the nearly self-evident truth: “The way I perceive you, is the way you are (at least from my perspective)”. By being aware of this and what you do with your face for example you can influence the situation. He has written what appears to be an interesting book about this subject: How to Sell Yourself: Using Leadership, Likability, and Luck to Succeed

Amy Sutherland has written What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers a book about the lessons she learnt from observing how animal trainers are taught. Animals can’t talk, so all that you have to work with is your non-verbal behaviour. Sutherland used the animal training principles/techniques that she picked up on improving the relationship with her husband. She gave two interesting examples:

  • Least Reinforcing Scenario (LRS). This has to do with showing as little behaviour as possible when an animal (that would include humans) does something you do not like. By ignoring the behaviour you make sure that you do not do anything to elicit the behaviour again.
  • Incompatible behaviour. This is reinforcing behaviour that is incompatible with the behaviour you do not like. Sutherland disliked how her husband would stand really close to her when she was cooking. She then decided to provide some Doritos and a beer on the other side of the kitchen isle. This worked really well for her.

To me both Lustberg and Sutherland focus on the same thing: your behaviour directly defines your success in social situations. If you are not happy about what other people do while working with you, you should think about what it is that you can do to change the situation. It is much easier to change yourself, than to change somebody else.