Communication Lessons from Buddy the Dog: What Gets Rewarded Gets Repeated

This is today's communication skills training lesson from Buddy the Dog:

OK, so you have someone at work that is driving you crazy. They always do this, or they never do that, and you're wondering why they always do it with you?

If there is a pattern of difficult behavior you're noticing from someone, the first thing you have to do is ask yourself what you're doing to reward the difficult behavior. Of course we're not responsible for everyone's difficult behavior, but if you're noticing a pattern, someone who is always or never doing something with you, then you have to ask yourself, "What am I doing to reward this behavior?"

Remember that we are like ATM machines to difficult people. They come up to us, push our buttons, and then stand back and wait for a payout. But have you ever gone to an ATM machine that did not give you money at the end? If you have, chances are you never went back to that ATM machine.

Why would you? It doesn't give you what you're looking for in the end.  Most of us, however, just keep giving payouts to the difficult people in our lives time and time and time again.

The first time someone exhibits difficult behavior around you, that may be about them, but the third time, the eighth time, the 10th time--that is no longer about the difficult person; that is about you. Figure out what the payout is your giving them, stop giving it, and watch how they start going to other walking ATM machines for their payouts.

Bottom line is that we might not be able to change difficult people, but we can certainly train them that they are not going to get the reward they're looking for.