6.5 Changing Behaviors, Changing Minds

Successful adaptation requires cultural strategic thinking, motivation, and mindfulness. In this way, cultural intelligence principles are interconnected and interrelated. You must be able to think about your thinking, contemplate it, and then adapt it based on your findings and reflections. Behaviors, whether appropriate or inappropriate, must be identified and defined in objective terms. You have to know exactly what behaviors are reoccurring and why they need to be changed. By doing so, you can describe the things you say to yourself as well as the situations or behaviors that you are imagining. You can, and should, talk about the evaluation statements you make about yourself. The use of cultural strategic thinking and mindfulness can help you to identify your behaviors and thought patterns.

Table 6.3 "Identifying Behaviors and Thought Patterns" is a case study of Gillian, who has been asked by her supervisor to lead development for a new service in her organization. Observe how she analyzes the situation in order to identify her behavior, the thoughts she had, and the emotions or behavioral outcomes she experienced.

Next, Gillian decides to find a way to manage her distressing thoughts and emotions. Because her anxiety, fear, and nervousness do not serve her as a leader in this work, she needs to identify more desirable thoughts. When she does this, she is less likely to have negative emotional responses that can lead to depressed moods and behaviors. To reframe her behavior, she will ask three questions:

Where is the evidence that contributes to my thoughts? Gillian will use this broader question to further explore her confidence, her ability to manage the team, and whether she has facts that support her thought pattern.

Are there other possibilities to this situation? Gillian will use this broader question to explore what she is not seeing in the situation and whether the facts presented are true, or if there are other explanations.

What are the implications of my behaviors? Gillian will use this broader question to understand how she feels, whether the feelings help or hinder her, if the feelings create a positive end result, and what consequences would occur because of her resistance to change.

Table 6.3 Identifying Behaviors and Thought Patterns

Situation Thoughts Emotions or Behaviors
My manager placed me in a work group to lead development for a new service in our organization. Working with the team requires that I make several trips to different parts of the world to speak with different team members. I have never worked with any of the individuals before and have not worked in a multicultural team. I don’t know if my responses and interactions with them will be appropriate. I don’t know what to expect because we are a new team. I’m not even sure I know how they want to interact with me. Do they think I will be controlling, demanding? Should I be more participatory than usual in my leadership style? I don’t want to mess this up. I feel anxious. I am not as confident in myself and my abilities. I feel nervous about the whole thing. I feel like I’m losing control.

When Gillian is able to identify the negative or inappropriate behaviors and identify the behaviors she wants, she is then able to respond and adapt appropriately. Sometimes during the adaptation and adjustment period, it is helpful to recite self-statements to cue you in the direction of the positive behaviors you want to express. Peer support can also be helpful in changing minds, because your peers can help point out in the situations where you revert back to old behaviors.