Test yourself by relearning your ABCs: B = Behaviour


Test yourself by relearning your ABCs: B = Behaviour

''B for Business'. 'B for Boardroom'. And most importantly, 'B for Behaviour'.' Stock photo
”B for Business’. ‘B for Boardroom’. And most importantly, ‘B for Behaviour’.’ Stock photo

Oh behave! That admonition from Austin Powers is intended for you from me today, folks, in as serious a manner as the goofy movie spy’s catch-phrase delivered by actor Mike Myers was originally intended as comical and ironic.

Building from last week’s ‘Relearning Your ABC’s’ column which discussed the importance of ‘A for Appearance’, let’s focus on the second letter in the series: B.

‘B for Business’. ‘B for Boardroom’. And most importantly, ‘B for Behaviour’. Improving awareness and responsibility over how you behave is essential to becoming a respected leader as well as a success in those first two ‘B’ words.

For instance, the behaviour of former US Vice President Joe Biden made headlines earlier this month.

The string of allegations against the would-be presidential candidate did not rise to the same levels of sexual harassment that have been lodged against many high-profile business leaders, celebrities and politicians – including President Donald Trump. Rather, Biden’s accusers described they were made to feel “uncomfortable” when he leaned in to smell a woman’s hair, gave an un-asked-for kiss on the back of another woman’s head and an assortment of touchy-gestures and extreme closeness.

Biden did not directly apologise. But he did tweet out a video describing what he called, “gestures of encouragement and support to women and some men”. He then promised to be more “mindful about respecting personal space”.

Is it enough? Maybe. New poll numbers released this past week indicate only 14pc of Democrats are “much less likely” to vote for Biden because of the matter if he should run for president. Which he has still not formally announced. That doesn’t mean he should continue mindlessly invading personal space, though, does it?

So, if you are considering to formally declare yourself up for a promotion or as a manager-of-the-year nominee, I suggest you read on to get a grip (yes, pun intended) on your behaviour.

And, no, I’m not only cautioning today about giving discomforting extra attention to someone, I’m also exploring what happens when you behave in ways that appear to show less attention than you should to a colleague, employee or supervisor.

The three words to bear in mind for more mindful behaviour are as follows:

1 Context


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If you’re “just a very friendly” guy as Biden supporters put it, (or gal for that matter, of course), you better think about context.

Consider where the behaviour is occurring and with whom. For instance, are you going to an introductory meeting? Are you attending an informal after-hours party? Are you participating in a large conference surrounded by strangers? Are you in your office meeting a job candidate alone? My recommendation to thoughtfully consider factors like these, is NOT because there is ever a time that inappropriate behaviour is acceptable, but if you’re meeting someone for the first time you would likely ratchet up your professional behaviour to a more formal level than you would if you were hanging out with friendly colleagues for a beer after work.

The state of your “relationship architecture” is also important to actively understand. If you’re a manager and the other person is a new hire, for example, they’ll be looking up to you. You set the culture tone by your behaviour – either by default or design.

2 Clusters

As the poll numbers for Biden seem to suggest, voters are not basing their decision about him solely on a single facet of his behaviour. With more than 40 years in elected office, his behaviour over those years combines to create a cluster of style that can be judged and appraised more wholly.

Considering clusters is important too when receiving or delivering body language. Imagine, if you know someone well, and they’re smiling at you and leaning in (but not too closely) while you’re talking, but their arms are crossed in what’s often interpreted as a negative gesture. You will still likely read the total effect as a positive cluster. If you don’t know them well, however, you may pick up a confusing mixed message.

Take my new client who last week described a manager who exhibits positive behaviour by regularly emailing motivational videos to his team. That’s good, right? But he also takes days or even weeks to respond to emails from those same team members. That’s not good. He probably thinks his behaviour of sending inspiration outweighs his lack of personal responsiveness. Or maybe he isn’t thinking about it all. Either way, his mixed cluster of behaviour does not add up to positive impact.

3 Consistency

I talk a lot with my coaching clients that change is possible. But developing a conscious, mindful approach to behaviour doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process of ongoing reflection, incremental change and course correction. That’s why I’m calling the book I’m working on, Relearning Your ABCs. We spend our life learning, unlearning and relearning in effort to continue growing and better connecting with others and ourselves.

Your employees, colleagues and perhaps even potential voters, will be observing your consistency of behaviour over time. Purposeful and positive behaviour is one of the most valuable assets we alone are responsible for cultivating.

Sunday Indo Business


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