Stop Doing Stupid Things: How to Break Behaviour Patterns

Breaking Bad (behaviour patterns)

Breaking Bad (behaviour patterns)

Therapy seeks to comfort the afflicted whereas coaching can seek to afflict the comfortable (Cavanagh : 2006)

An interesting incident occurred during the week. I had a meeting planned for 15:00 with a client in Dawson Street. I’d already changed the date of the meeting, so was more than usually conscious of being on time. Parked the car in Molesworth Street @ 14 20 and was trying to figure out what to do for 40 minutes. Showing up early is almost as bad as being late. It’s like your maiden aunt coming to a house party an hour before kick off – just as you are about to hop into the shower! One skinny latte later, ready to go, I popped into the loo in the café.

Getting Locked! The door lock required a key (it wasn’t a simple bolt arrangement). Anyway, guess what happened? The key got stuck in the lock and I was stuck in the jacks. Now this particular toilet was about the same size as a Chihuahua’s kennel. At 14:53, I was hammering on the door. Eventually, the waitress rescued me with the not-so-reassuring tagline: “Don’t worry about it. Everyone gets trapped in there”.

Taken Aback: It was my second time stuck in a toilet. A couple of years back I ran a Management development programme in Newbridge for Wyatt (now part of Pfizer). The plant was under construction and only about 50% of it was in use. The toilets were over the far side from where we were running the training. When that particular door got stuck, I had to climb out over the top of the cubicle like MacGyver (if it happened to me now I don’t think I’d make it over the wall. They would find a skeleton in the loo years later; perhaps thinking they’d found the body of the ‘2015 Hide and Seek Champion’).

Behaviour Patterns: Just like my toilet escapades, people can become stuck in behaviour patterns. And when others try to intervene they can find – paradoxically – that the person cannot seem to change. While the term sounds somewhat brutal, some people become addicted to their own misery. The psychological payoff (because there is always a payoff) can be around playing the ‘woe is me’ game. At a deeper level, some people don’t take responsibility for their own lives or having to change those parts of their lives which are not working. Sometimes there is a degree of outsourcing the blame to someone else, maybe even a wish to ‘get even’ with this person. Perhaps they have not heard of the wisdom offered by Confucius: Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.  Blaming others for a lack of success in your life can have some basis in fact. Not everyone gets off to a great start. Some people are born with a ‘rusty’ spoon in their mouth. But, if you feel stuck, perhaps its time to change that lock and not remain trapped in a place where you don’t want to be.

In the meantime, a bit of practical advice. Never, ever go into a strange toilet without a step ladder. You’ve been warned.


PS Lighter Note: How about a bit of toilet humour to round off? Went for a routine checkup today and everything seemed to be going fine until the doctor conducted a Proctology. Do you think I should change dentists?

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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One Response to Stop Doing Stupid Things: How to Break Behaviour Patterns

  1. laurencemcgivern says:

    Hi Paul Are you telling us all that you did not have a swiss army knife in your pocket to dismantle the lock. Every man should have one so at least if unable to dismantle the lock you can spend waiting to be released time working out what all the bits on the knife are for.For the benefit of all you should name those toilets…Hope all well with you and family

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