122: How to Help People Change | with Art Markman

by Jesse Lahey on October 15, 2015

smart changeTo create lasting behavior change, it’s crucial to understand how the brain’s habit system works, and then develop specific techniques to leverage the power of the brain rather than fighting against it.

Psychologist Art Markman joins us to provide insight and practical advice to create sustainable behavior change in the people we lead. He’s the author of Smart Thinking and Habits of Leadership, and his newest book is Smart Change: Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others. Art is on the faculty of the University of Texas and a consultant to companies such as Procter & Gamble, and he writes regularly for Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Psychology Today.

Jesse and Art talk about various types of behavior change that organizations try to lead, such as making faster decisions, executing on those decisions more rapidly, eating healthier, getting more exercise, quitting tobacco, and focusing more on productive work and less on answering emails.

They also discuss several of the eight tips described in Smart Change to help people change. Combining these techniques is much more effective than using them in isolation.

  1. Lead by example. Demonstrate authenticity by engaging visibly in the behaviors you expect from others.
  2. Suggest goals. Use videos, visuals, and everyday actions to show leaders engaging in a behavior in a visible way.
  3. Give the right feedback. Focus the feedback on the process of the change, not simply the outcome. Give positive feedback that reinforces an incremental mindset.
  4. Support habit development. Reorganize the environment to support the new habit.
  5. Take advantage of laziness. For example, make it harder to smoke by forbidding tobacco on campus.
  6. Make good behavior cheap and bad behavior expensive. Subsidize behaviors you want to encourage, and penalize behaviors you want to discourage. (Price alone will not have a huge influence, but change in cost can be an effective tool when combined with other methods.)
  7. Develop support networks. For example, provide an electronic form of community users about the topic or about a related process.
  8. Engage in conversations. Rather than just pushing information at people, have dialogue.

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