What are essential behaviors? What makes them essential? Why should you care about them? Can you list some of them? Essential behaviors are the actions we take as well as the practices we engage in that connect most powerfully with others and make the greatest positive difference in the results we get in life, whether at home or at work. Essential behaviors are the things we do that have the most potent impact in terms of building relationships, maintaining them, deepening understanding, building collaboration, getting things done well, building permission and capacity in individuals and groups and creating more significance in life.
Some key examples of essential behaviors are: actively listening, speaking respectfully, thinking before talking, expressing gratitude, planning important meetings, following through on commitments and acting in spite of anxiety and fear. There are more but the list above is a great start. Which ones above do you engage in and which ones do you neglect or use least often?
Using just a few of the above, if you want people to listen to you, then you need to model listening actively to them and, by doing so, you gain insights, key information and are less likely to be blind-sided. If you speak respectfully by watching the tone of your voice as well as your words, people are more likely to listen to you and will tend to reciprocate by being respectful to you. Thinking before you speak, taking the time to organize your thoughts and then to say what you mean in a thoughtful way just builds the sense that you know what you are talking about and that you don’t go off half-cocked. Expressing gratitude, even as simple as saying, “Thank you” gains you far more than I can write about here. Gratitude begets better performance, greater engagement and appreciation in return.
Planning important meetings simply means you take the time to think through what you wish to accomplish, think about who will be present and have a game plan in mind as well as a process. Doing that helps you produce better outcomes. It is also a sign of respect to take the time to plan out what you want and to participate effectively. Following through on commitments means that you are trust-worthy and you build your “brand” as someone who does what is promised. This gives you credibility and a reputation for reliability.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the essential behavior of acting in spite of fear and anxiety helps to build your Courage Quotient, the essential “cardiovascular” system for leadership and for living whole-heartedly. As you face your fears and self-doubts, taking them into account. By not letting them “run” your life, you act on your deeper sense of purpose and personal meaning, not the feelings of the moment. This means that you become a person of substance, vitality and personal authenticity. You also, thus, help to inspire and engage others.