Destructive People: Be patient. Lose battles. Win the war!

An individual’s damaging or destructive behaviour towards others in the organization usually forces us to a) look for the causality of the behaviour, b) apply a label to it, and c) seek a prescription to ‘fix’ their attitude.

We are in for a lot of frustration.

Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.  Robert Heinien


The limitation on making any progress is in the behaviour of others towards the problem person.

For example, if the deviant person constantly bullies people, they likely live in a separate universe from those advising them to stop. They cannot hear you because they have a fixed mindset*. Their fear may drive them to any measure they can take to advance or protect their interests, including appearing to support you.

They are not a customer for change** At least, not the way you want it to happen. They may change their fixed mindset at some point, but their way and at their speed, not yours!

Hence, not only are they in denial, you are too. So, if they have a fixed mindset, how do you modify your’s first?

1. Avoid putting energy into: a) satisfying their demands, b) hoping they will change by allowing us fix their issue.

2. If the person’s bad behaviour is systemic then it’s not going away for a while. Why be caught like a deer in the headlights by the problem? Let someone else change his or her fixed mindset – another time.

3. Reframe the opportunity for change by addressing the system around the person. Set a vision for the future based on better outcomes than the ones the badly behaving person seeks.

4. Focus on small steps towards the outcomes desired by the folks affected by the bad person. The difficult person will still be there, but you’ll be moving in another direction.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. – Van Gogh

5. Be patient. Lose battles. Win the war!

Questions for people who want to make progress:

What are you working on that doesn’t need to change? i.e., whats working that becomes your resources for being resourceful and resilient over time?

Suppose a miracle were to happen and the problem went away? What would you be doing instead? What would others be doing to help you?

Suppose that were happening more often, what outcomes would you be achieving?

 What small steps might you have seen yourself taking to begin reaching your outcomes?

Again, we are not going to ‘fix’ the problem person this way. We going to help those around them make progress.

More thoughts on getting beyond fear using solution focus.

*Coert Visser on the positive aspects of growing beyond a Fixed Mindset

**Ben Furman on ‘Involuntary Clients’

1 thought on “Destructive People: Be patient. Lose battles. Win the war!

  1. michael cardus

    This is timely and helpful to be reminded that the change comes from others around this person. Putting energy into changing a fixed mind is going to burn you out and not the other person.

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