This month’s InsideOut Empowerment Challenge is about looking beyond behavior to its purpose. All behavior is purposeful. Every behavior is a person’s best attempt to get something they want at that particular time to more effectively meet one of their five basic needs.

Think of a diseased fruit tree with the “misbehavior” being the damaged fruit. Sure you can remove the fruit or punish the behavior, but that will do little to get at what is causing the problem in the first place. Cutting out the damaged fruit will only have it growing back in a different spot much in the same way punishing behavior will likely create another “misbehavior” to take its place.

It’s important to understand where the problem is. Is it in the branches? I would call this an information problem. Sometimes people make poor choices because they lack the information they need to make better ones. To correct this problem, you simply need to provide more information.

Perhaps the problem is in the trunk or the person’s values. Now this really isn’t a problem. It may simply be a clash of value systems. You have yours and everyone else has theirs. Values are subjective and tend to be exactly correct for the person who holds them. Problems occur when one person thinks their values are “right” and the other person’s values are “wrong.” Values are never right or wrong. They are simply opinions about how each individual decides to  live his or her life. If there are consequences for holding certain values, then you would want to point those out. You can also ask people if believing in certain values helps them get closer to what they really want or does it get in the way. This may help a person examine and adjust his or her values.

And finally, the cause of the “misbehavior” may be in the roots or an unmet need.  When you see someone “misbehaving,” ask yourself, “I wonder what need that person is attempting to meet?” If you can guess correctly, you may be able to help the person get more of what he or she needs without breaking rules and suffering consequences. This will happen if the person trusts you and believes you have his or her best interests at heart. Let’s see if this month we can get beyond the fruit (behavior) to the actual cause of the behavior. Let me know how it works out.

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