A woman named Alice was unhappy with her pharmacist. She told a neighbour: “He’s never looking at me when I come in and is always rushed and distracted. I don’t think he likes me!” Suddenly, she turned to her neighbour. “You know him. You should tell him how badly he’s treating me.”
The neighbour nodded and said she would.
A few days later, Alice knocked on her neighbour’s door. “Wow—you must have really given that pharmacist a piece of your mind. When I went in this morning, he gave me a huge smile and spent a long time with me. He acted like I was his best friend. What did you say to him?”
The neighbour hesitated. “I told him you thought he was the kindest and most caring pharmacist you’d ever known.”
We all succumb to the fallacy that we can scrape some positivity out of someone by pointing out their flaws. But as life frequently reminds us, it’s almost impossible to get positivity out of negativity. It’s akin to beating up someone to get an apology. Very ineffective.
Dog trainers know this. They ignore all negative behaviour a dog is demonstrating and just reward the positives. Bit by bit, they ‘create’ the dog. This has shown itself to be very effective. As author Fletcher Peacock writes, “Water the flowers, not the weeds.” He wrote a book by the same name!
So, whether you’re trying to change your own behaviour or someone else’s, forget the reprimands. Focus ONLY on what you want to create and build, build, build on that.
In short, CREATE the reality you want.
If I had been coaching Alice, I would have told her to skip the talk with the neighbour and encouraged her, instead, to give the pharmacist a big friendly wave every time she saw him and treated him as if he WAS kind and caring, until he got on her energy train.
She might have argued with me and told me I was resisting ‘reality’, but I don’t believe there really IS a reality out there. Yes, there are lots of fixed situations, but life is inherently fluid and changing. Which means there’s always room for us to create them differently.
Go for it.