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Centerpointe Research

Behavior

Other People’s Quirks

The logo of Quirks and Quarks.

The logo of Quirks and Quarks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How come other people have quirks and we don’t or are we fooling ourselves?  Does what other people do sometimes not make sense and we can’t understand why they continue to do something which to us doesn’t seem to work.

It is very difficult to change human behavior especially since we usually focus on changing other people’s behavior, not our own.  What someone else does, which seems ignorant to us, often does not make them uncomfortable so why do they need to change even if we would like them to.

Change can be difficult because if you knew how to do it, you probably would have done it long ago.  Sometimes we know how to do it, but we don’t want to do it.  There is something we don’t like about doing it.  Think of all the New Year’s resolutions that get broken.

Thus we might have quirks of our own, behaviors that we can’t or won’t change, that annoy others.  We can learn to accept other people’s quirks and live with them or we can cut bait and go fish somewhere else.  This often happens after many attempts to communicate that something isn’t working and possibly not being heard.  Most people don’t practice active listening.
They are too busy thinking of what they want to say in response to what you said that they are unable to tell you what you actually said versus what they think you said.

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Who’s Defensive?

Are you open minded or do you frequently deny that the problem might be with you and not someone else.  In The Games People Play, there is a game called, “Why don’t you, yes, but.”   It happens when someone comes with a problem to be solved and rejects every possible solution the therapist proposes.  I suspect that to be seen as having such a problem and having it be your fault is unacceptable.  The person can maintain this attitude even after receiving disastrous feedback, numerous times.

The behavior that is involved is often so crucial to the person’s functioning that they can’t do without it.  For example, other people see the person’s inappropriate behavior and comments as offensive, but he or she continues to feel that the problem is that the other person can not take a joke or a friendly flirtation.  This is a frustrating situation for all involved.  The person receiving the comments is obviously very uncomfortable and may stop interacting with the person who gives them while the person who gives them claims to be mystified as to why the relationship was ended when they were just being friendly.

The solution to this situation involves some dearly needed problem solving on the person’s part who does not recognize that they need to change their behavior in these interactions which end so unsatisfactorily.  Obviously they are lacking in some social skills.  They have a problem seeing the real impact that their behavior has on others.  Thus they see no need to change their behavior in these situations.

games people play

games people play (Photo credit: girlguyed)

 

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How to Change Behavior

Me And My Parents

Me And My Parents (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)

Part of a parent’s job is to modify the behavior of their child or children to protect them from danger and to learn more appropriate ways for their child or children to get what they want or need.  For this we get very little training and what we do know we have learned from the way our parents‘ raised us.  It is surprising to me that for one of the most difficult jobs in life we get very little education.  How we acquire knowledge is very important and yet it is often not studied by the very people who need it.

Behavior modification has been around for a long time.  It has been taught to mental health professions, parents, teachers, and others.  It seems very simple to do, but it is not that easy to apply.  It takes some finesse and that is what makes it work for some users and not for other users.   In this method, behavior change is facilitated by the use of rewards and punishments.  Rewards can be given consistently or they can be given intermittently.  The latter rather than the former is more effective.  The behavior targeted to change is also important.  Punishment focuses on the wrong, unwanted behavior and rewards focus on the desired behavior.  It is usually best to develop an appropriate behavior by rewarding it with which to replace the “bad” behavior.  An appropriate replacement behavior for one child might not work for another child.  Also the effectiveness of the reward used depends on what the child likes to do or have. Social rewards like praise are better in the long run than concrete ones.

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Making Judgments

There are some things worth making judgments about and there other things not worth making judgments about.   When life or death decisions are to be made, it is important to use good judgment.  When personal taste is involved, it sometimes makes no sense to always inflict our opinions on others.  Not everyone has the same standard of beauty or shares the same taste in food.  Newlyweds or those couples living together for the first time often find this out rather quickly.  I was in a grocery store once and a young couple were making their first shopping trip together.  They couldn’t seem to agree on anything.  My husband and I both cook, but I am more likely to add salt to things and he is more likely to add sugar.  I mistakenly believed too that who one thought was a beautiful woman or a handsome man was shared by others.  One of the females in my family and I were talking about actresses and I found that certain actresses that I thought were not beautiful were found to be very attractive to her.

Gossip 0ften mostly involves making judgments about others’ “bad” qualities or behaviors.  Usually when such comparisons are made,  we feel better about ourselves by comparison.  Rather than making judgments, perhaps we should practice making and giving complements.  In psychology it has been found that giving rewards such as praise for “good” or desired behaviors is more effective in changing behavior than punishing or criticizing undesirable behaviors.  I have found that rather than joining in when someone is making negative comments about someone or their behavior, if I point out some good qualities of the person and/or my more positive personal experiences with that person, it changes the tone of the conversation and makes it more productive  “Bad” reputations never did anybody any good..  .  .

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