Changing Oneself Before Others

changeOne important lesson I have learned in life, lesson learned from moments of frustrations, is that it’s probably easier for to me to change myself rather than changing others. As I wrote on this blog post about working effectively with my boss, I came to the realization that I needed to adjust my communication style and perspective so we can work better.  The idea of changing myself first rather than asking others to change is one I’ve come to apply to my personal and professional relationships. I can perhaps influence others to change, but I don’t think I can force others to change. Especially in a position of leadership, this is one of my key beliefs when helping others grow.

I read somewhere that in academia, we are quick to offer our suggestions on how others could change but asked to change, that’s a different story. I’m sure this is not universally applicable, but one of my colleagues who work with faculty told me this – “faculty are quick to profess about change but ask them to change their parking space and you’ll get a lot of complaints.” As I wrote, I’m sure this is not universally applicable to all faculty and as well, staff and administrators are probably just as guilty of this reluctance to change.

As I learned to accept the idea of looking to change myself first over others, I realized I needed to practice self-reflection of my actions, my values, and my emotions. I suppose it could be considered emotional intelligence, but I’ve learned (and still learning) to be aware of my reactions and thoughts, especially in emotional moments, and to react appropriately.  In addition, I’ve come to be more considerate/appreciative of the perspectives other folks bring and look for the validity and positive aspects of these perspectives instead of offering quick criticisms.

In taking the approach of changing myself first before seeking to influence the change in others, I’ve become less stressed and I think  it has led to improved personal and professional relationships.

Photo credit: http://www.ifunny.com/pictures/who-wants-chang/

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