I was explaining (not so successfully at first) to someone the other day, that generally punitive measures will not result in positive behavior change because the link between the undesired behaviors and the “punishment” will likely be really murky to the person you are trying to influence, and they’ll just think you’re being mean.
For example (and I am making this up), you are watching a friend’s 5 year old kid, and they are being super whiny and in general not listening to directions, thereby really driving you nuts. You have to run some errands and you take the snotty ankle-biter along with you.
As you stand in line at the bank, one of the bankers hands the kiddo a lollipop and the brat’s face lights up with glee. You are still urked at the stress you’ve been caused so you take away the lollipop and say “No way, kid! You’ve been bad all morning, you don’t get candy now!”
Whoops. Now you are really screwed. Enter: tantrum.
Take a different scenario: you woke up in a shittastic mood, your hot water was out, you broke a coffee mug, saw that gas prices had gone up, and then spilled red jelly on your shirt (again, making this up…if anything I go for Boston Creme Donuts), and you’re generally snippy at everyone. Then, as you are standing in line to get lunch (at Panera, maybe? mmmm) you bump into a colleague you haven’t seen in ages and she/he says something like “Wow, you look great! I hear you’ve been (insert super awesome idea you launched). Man, you are such an inspiration!”
Suddenly you feel less stressed, you are able to pull the trigger on the delicious salad you really wanted in the first place, you remember what you were supposed to email a friend about, and the rest of your day goes by far easier.
Sometimes, when something good happens, and it is unexpected, it can turn around not only a persons mood, but their behavior as well (technically speaking, mood IS a behavior…but I will let that slide for now).
Now for the opposite, a case study:
I’ve had a rough few days when it comes to not being too hard on myself, taking care of my digestive health, and remaining mindful and accepting of life’s little speedbumps. This morning, with some coaching from my sister-in-law, I started fresh, I got up in time, coffee was brewing (so I can be all peppy for my spinners, hehe), I made myself a healthy breakfast smoothie for post-spin, packed a colon-friendly lunch, and was on my way…
Everything was great, until I stopped at Starbucks on my way to commute to the office, and locked my keys in my truck, engine running. Oh, boy, not only my mood, but my tone of voice, my posture, and my attitude about the day ahead did a 180.
I got to work 90 minutes late, grumpy (again), and $80 poorer (I haggled the locksmith down from $185, can you believe that!)
I had missed leaving with a co-worker for a full day of on-site visits, and really couldn’t figure out what I should then work on (there is plenty, but I was still so frustrated!).
I have taken some breathes, cleaned my desk up, and decided to spend the day catching up on some research I have been meaning to do in order to finish up some transitional tasks (I am moving on to a new job over the holidays).
In the end, though, it’s pouring out and I would certainly rather go snuggle with my girls: