by Marshall Goldsmith
My job is to help people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior. Every once in a while I run across someone who doesn’t want to change. What do I do to convince them that the change is good for them?
Have you ever tried to change the behavior of an adult who had absolutely no interest in changing? How much luck did you have with your attempts at this “religious conversion”? Have you ever tried to change the behavior of a spouse, partner or parent who had no interest in changing? How did that work out for you?
My guess is that if you have ever tried to change someone else’s behavior, and that person did not want to change, you have been consistently unsuccessful in changing their behavior. You may have even alienated the person you were trying to enlighten.
If they don’t care, don’t waste your time.
Research on coaching is clear and consistent. Coaching is most successful when applied to people who want to improve — not when applied to people who have no interest in changing. This is true whether you are acting as a professional coach, a manager, a family member, or a friend.
Your time is very limited. The time you waste trying to change people who do not care is time stolen from people who do want to change.
As an example, back in Valley Station, Kentucky, my mother was an outstanding first grade school teacher. In Mom’s mind, I was always in the first grade, my Dad was in the first grade, and all of our relatives were in the first grade.
She was always correcting everybody.
My Dad’s name was Bill. Mom was always scolding “Bill! Bill!” when he did something wrong. We bought a talking bird. In a remarkably short period of time the bird started screeching “Bill! Bill!” Now Dad was being corrected by a bird.
Years passed. When Mom corrected his faulty grammar for the thousandth time, Dad sighed, “Honey, I am 70 years old. Let it go.”
If you are still trying to change people who have no interest in changing, take Dad’s advice. Let it go.