We’ve all heard the adage: “You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself.” While I get that it’s wasted energy to try to change others by pushing them or cajoling them, or attempting to control them, it doesn’t mean that you can’t change people.
If you sincerely care about a person and you give them consistent positive feedback, provide encouragement, listen and show genuine interest in what they are interested in, honestly value their input, find value in their work and contribution, and show up in their lives, I’ll promise that over time, they will change. Maybe not right away. But they will change. They will grow. They will become better people because of your influence.
And… if you spend time criticizing, disrespecting, discouraging, diminishing, and focusing on all the things that you don’t like about someone, the fault-finding and belittling will also change them. It’s hard to be around bitter, critical, negative people without taking some of that on.
Now that I reflect this, a question arises: Are we are actually “changing” another, or simply bringing the best out of them? In this light, I’m not sure we can even change ourselves. Perhaps, at best, all we can do is create the right conditions for our true, finest nature to be expressed.
And for simplicity sake, let’s assume we can change people. Maybe not without their consent, but don’t overlook the impact one person can have on another.