In a recent post, I presented a simple model for understanding what drives our behavior.
According to the model, punishments (negative or unpleasant consequences) can reduce the likelihood that a behavior will repeat in the future. This observation implies that leaders can hope to eliminate “bad” behaviors by using punishment and discipline strategies.
If you face a situation where you need to eliminate inappropriate workplace (or family) behaviors, then you can apply negative consequences to achieve your goals. And, you might achieve partial success.
Using only negative consequences might eliminate a “bad” behavior. This approach will not guarantee that a “good” behavior will happen in its place.
According to the model I presented previously, we choose our behaviors from among the behaviors we perceive are available to us in a situation.
By making the consequences for one choice painful enough, you might encourage the person you are working with to choose a different behavior. If you do not explicitly define the behavior that you would like to replace the “bad” behavior in question AND make the consequences for the new behavior positive, you run the risk of encouraging him to choose a third option that is even worse than the behavior you hoped he would change.
As you work to become a more effective leader, parent, teacher, coach, or friend, remember that only positive consequences for desired behaviors will encourage people to repeat those behaviors in the future.
When you apply the model I wrote about previously, remember to:
- Beware of perception error
- Understand the application of both positive and negative consequences
- Explore all consequences the other person might experience (both tangible and emotional). In other words, think beyond the external consequences that you “apply” to the other person.
Most importantly, remember that…
You cannot punish people into good behavior.
This article is from the Motivation series. Use the links below to read more from this series.
- The 5 Be's of Motivation
- The Positive Runs Out
- A Simple Model for Understanding What Drives Behavior
- You Cannot Punish People into Good Behavior
- Three Clues You Can Use to Find What Motivates Another Person
- Employee Motivation Tips: Their Personal Life
- Employee Motivation Tips: Their DISC Behavior Style