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3 strategies anyone can use

Responding to a behaviour that is called a strategy. There are many ways to reach behavioural goals so it is no surprise there are lots of different strategies to try. Here are a brief description of three of my most used strategies:
  • Naming it
  • Swapping
  • Shaping
The ‘naming it’ strategy
Sometimes people are simply not aware of their actual behaviour. It is a habit. Naming the behaviour brings it to a conscious level where it can be evaluated. Stating, ‘Calling someone [insert putdown] is disrespectful’, or ‘What I am seeing is people being bullied’, provides feedback. It can be used for providing a reprimand like the examples above or positive reinforcement e.g. ‘That type of behaviour helps show respect.’

The swapping strategy
Swapping the behaviour is great when a reaction was inappropriate but the reason behind the reaction is justifiable. Say Charlie is not paying attention and runs into Kamari. Kamari’s reaction is to uses foul language and putdowns like calling Charlie 'a stupid idiot'. It is understandable that Kamari is upset but using foul language and putdowns is not an appropriate solution.

Swapping the putdowns with an I-message, Kamari can still express the need for Charlie to be more careful but in a more positive form. Something like "I get really angry when others don't look where they are going."

The shaping strategy
Shaping is using small steps in changing the behaviour to shape it progressively to reach the desired final behaviour. Rather than aiming for complete change at the outset, this breaks the behaviour down into more achievable and manageable steps. The intermediate steps are positively reinforced and/or subject to adverse conditions until the desired behaviour is reached.

If the goal is for Shannon to stop using foul language then it is easy to start with working on stopping one word at a time. Start out by forming an agreement with Shannon to stop using foul language in general. Then agree on the first word to work on. Now when Shannon uses the target word, it is accompanied by coaching, issuing a challenge or reprimanding. This creates an adverse condition. In time, Shannon might use the forbidden word but remember immediately and say sorry.

Once the habit forms and Shannon has stopped using the target word it is time for Shannon to work on word number two. Being able to just concentrate on one word is far easier for Shannon, rather than having to remember to stop every foul word.

Check out the free stuff strategies webpage for more detailed information and downloads about these strategies.
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