People cannot change, they can only learn

We so wish that people could change. It really would make life easier. But why is it that even a question? Why is it that we need people to change? What is wrong with them in the first place?

The simple truth is that we trust that which is familiar to us. The more someone behaves in a similar fashion to the way we behave, the faster we are likely to trust them, give or take a few other factors. When relating to other people, especially in the workplace we often come across behaviours we do not resonate with and at worst can find difficult and offensive. We really cannot understand why people would want to behave like that; after all we never would. It make sense then that we would want these people to change these behaviours. It would make trusting them so much easier.

To add to this, when you put a group of people together the average set of behaviours becomes the “norm”. We call this culture. Everyone who naturally approximates the norm will fit in while anyone whose behaviour deviates form the norm significantly is likely to no fit in, and will likely receive the message several times “please change”.



But the truth is we cannot change our core behaviour. Our behaviour represents that which is important to us, so telling me to change my behaviour and therefore something that is important to me, is both nonsensical and practically speaking, impossible.

But what I can do, is learn how to manage my behaviour for short periods of time, especially in circumstances where my behaviour does not fit the norm of the environment in which I must work. This is not easy and can be extremely exhausting, which is why it really can only be done for short periods of time before we feel our real selves threatening to emerge.

So instead of trying to change people all the time, should we not just do what we can to put them in environments where there natural behaviours fit the norm of that environment?


by | Sep 27, 2018 | Culture, Uncategorized