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Changing Behavior - EQ in Action

#behavior #emotionalintelligence #eqfit #eqinaction Mar 20, 2023

When you think of changing behavior...what comes to mind?

  • A pattern or habit you want to change?
  • Changing another person's behavior?
  • Learning and growing?
  • Gaining new skills?

It could be any or all of these, and more.


If we think of defining behavior, the simple definition is the way we act in a specific situation. To go a little deeper, we can think of patterns of behavior when we experience certain things. I am not going to dive deeply into the psychological definitions or concepts related to behavior. Instead, I want to focus on the practical ways we see behavior manifest every day.

Where does behavior come from, or maybe the better question, how are specific behaviors developed within us or other people? Here is a pathway that might help to explain behavior:

  • We all have things we believe to be true about ourselves and our place in the world.
  • From these beliefs, we create rules that we live by.
  • These beliefs and rules shape our behavior (decisions, actions) and the self-talk that reinforces our behavior.

This is a good start to understanding behavior, but it goes deeper than that. Here are additional elements that shape our behavior:

  • Education (learning)
  • Experiences
  • Cultural impact
  • Social pressures & norms
  • Peer pressure
  • Self-imposed limitations

Why is all of this important? First, to understand that how behavior is developed is not something that is the same for everyone. Meaning, that how our behavior is shaped is unique for each of us based on many different elements in our life. Having said that, the behavior we see in ourselves and in others may look the same. Understanding that the origins of that behavior may be different for different people, is a big step forward to changing behavior.

Judgement vs Curiosity

It is so easy to judge. Ourselves or other people. The problem with judgement is that it limits. Judgement is not a good approach to facilitate behavior change. In many cases, judgement becomes actually a judgement of good or bad, right or wrong. It places a "label" on something that usually locks down forward progress.

Curiosity opens up possibilities. When thinking of behavior change, curiosity allows for exploration, discovery, and gaining additional insight into the behavior. Curiosity is a great approach to facilitate behavior change.

Since we are all unique individuals, with a unique mix of elements that shape our behavior, the more we can explore and gain insight, the more effective we can be at changing behavior.

 Behavior change & EQ (emotional intelligence)

When we think of behavior, that is what we see. Underneath behavior are the various elements we looked at earlier. If you want to change a behavior in yourself, or in another person, we must look deeper than the behavior that we see on the surface. That means taking the time to truly understand what is shaping that behavior. Here is the risk...that exploration could easily trigger specific emotions in ourselves or others that will hinder behavior change. So how do we approach this in a way that is productive.

This is where EQ becomes a powerful ally in changing behavior. Research is clear, the higher the EQ score, the more likely someone is to be successful. The key success factors:

  • Effectiveness
  • Relationships
  • Well-being
  • Quality of Life

If you think about these 4 critical success factors, they all have a foundation in behavior that brings positive results and outcomes. Behavior that impacts yourself or others in a negative manner, will not add to any of these four important success factors. In fact, behaviors that have a negative impact will diminish the level of these success factors.

So how does enhanced EQ help us in changing behavior?

  • Increasing our emotional intelligence enhances our agility and resilience which allows us to practice curiosity more than judgement.
  • EQ skills help us to create a mindset that enables us to make changes to our beliefs or rules so that we can make the behavior changes we desire.
  • Empathy is a competency of emotional intelligence that helps us to understand other people's perceptions, perspectives, and emotions.
  • Navigating emotions is another competency of emotional intelligence that empowers us to navigate emotions so that we don't get stuck or derailed. It enhances forward progress for better outcomes.

Changing behavior

Changing behavior may be simple or could be a big challenge. The real question is, is the change worth it? We tend to consider the effort it will take to change more than we do the potential outcomes. The more we can focus on the outcomes, and how those can be more valuable to us, the more likely we are to make the behavior changes we desire, in ourselves, and in others.

"Until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of the change, people will not change."

 This is a phrase that I use often. It is indicative of the human condition. But it does not have to be that way. EQ skills can raise us to higher levels of self-awareness, self-management, and self-direction. They can empower us to help others improve.

Of all of the things in life we cannot control, our behavior is something we can control. Be intentional, be curious, be optimistic. This is a pathway to making the changes you desire.


For more, check out our other resources:

EQFIT® YouTube Channel


EQFIT® Podcast

 Copyright © 2023 EQFIT® - Author: Steven Goodner. All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact: [email protected]

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