changeOne important lesson I have learned in life, a lesson learned from moments of frustration, is that it’s probably easier for me to change myself rather than change others. As I wrote in this blog post about working effectively with my boss, I realized that I needed to adjust my communication style and perspective so we could 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 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 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. I look for these perspectives’ validity and positive aspects 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.

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