As a country, it took us little more than a week to change behaviors that were deeply ingrained in us (and as a planet, it was only a few weeks), reacting to an abrupt change in context that is now calming down. Now what? How long will it take for the behavioral change that will allow us to live fully with this new reality?
All the restrictions associated with the pandemic are gradually being lifted and these are some of the doubts that will plague us in the new reality: should I go back to shaking hands, hugging and kissing people I’m not that close to? how can I be integrated in the middle of a crowd of people? do I feel comfortable going into a store full of customers? how close or far away from my work colleagues should I be? will I be able to create new mixed work routines with remote and face-to-face days? etc.
Again, the same word: change.
Of course, common sense tells us that the behavioral change we undertook in the face of the global pandemic was instantaneous because our lives were at risk, it was an emergency. Common sense also tells us that this will not be the desirable scenario for making behavioral changes in our personal or professional lives and that, ideally, there should be anticipation, planning and forethought. However, in my opinion, that’s not the bottom line.
Because sometimes (very often) our health is at risk, sometimes (very often) the life of an organization is at risk, we even know what behaviors need to be changed and we draw up action plans that are often sophisticated and very detailed, but… behavioral change simply doesn’t happen. Why is that?
Do we only change our behavior when we’re “between a rock and a hard place”?
Do we only change our behavior when we’re really, really distressed, as seems to be the popular Portuguese tradition?
I’d say not. Let’s look at some examples.
What happens, when we lower (or raise) the temperature of a room, to the soul force of those inside? Or to the way those people communicate with each other, if we increase or decrease the volume of the ambient sound?
And how do I react if the door to the meeting room is closed every time I’m late for an appointment with other people?
Or when you want an audience to stop speaking in Portuguese and start speaking in English? We certainly don’t need to put anyone at “risk” and we can do as described here (somewhere in the last third of the article).
I would therefore say that there doesn’t have to be a negative stimulus, an imminent risk or an affliction to provoke or accelerate the speed of behavioral change, but undoubtedly the status quo has to change for the behaviors of those who are part of it to change accordingly. Can you identify the key points for changing this status quo?
Talk to us!