Using Behavioral Psychology to Influence people in the workplace

I received this question from a reporter who was interested in gaining a deeper understanding on the relationship between behavioral science psychology and how HR uses that to influence employees.

They were looking for specific examples of how it is used.

I provided an example of how it is not used, but should be. It has to do with harassment situations.  There is more that we can do.

With harassment situations, behavioral psychology could be really useful. Behavioral Psychologists have known for 70 years how to make unwanted behavior stop.  If HR learned these techniques, they could use them to help stop bullying and harassment in the workplace.

What does this look like in practice?

1. How reports of harassment are responded to, can be tweaked to take advantage of what we know needs to happen to make unwanted behavior stop. Right now – current processes tend to make things worse. It’s unintentional, but it still happens.
2. Employees reporting problems can be provided training that would help them understand – how to make it stop – in a way that goes beyond – just keep reporting it.
3. We could revamp our current sexual harassment training programs to include this information. CA law for instance, requires training on how to stop abusive behavior in the workplace. We can fulfill that requirement by providing a behavioral psychology based training that teaches – how to make unwanted behavior stop.

What happens when you provide this sort of training?  You change the culture of the organization. I did a training for a law firm once. Trained all their offices. What they said happened, as a result of a behavioral training, was that people started behaving better with each other. The one problem person who had been identified prior to the training quit, and everyone else just treated each other with dignity and professionalism.  

When you give people the knowledge of how to handle difficult interpersonal interactions with grace and with dignity – using science – it changes everything. 

If you want to learn more or would like to train your staff and management on these techniques - check out my courses at:

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