Getting others to stop themselves

There are many occasions when we feel the urge to tell others "stop that". Here's a few examples to keep this exploration feeling real:
  • Stop making a nuisance of yourself in ways that are testing others' patience
  • Stop running over budget and behind schedule before we lose the customer, project or reputation we've worked hard to earn
  • Stop violating the rules, policies and laws we all must obey
  • Stop sabotaging your own success with your lack of ambition, organization and practice
  • Stop making excuses and blaming others for not getting the job done
  • Stop before you fall into that trap or you step onto that slippery slope
  • Stop looking down on us as if you're better than the rest of us
When we feel that urge to say "stop that", we are afraid of what will occur if we don't say "stop". We thinking of consequences with our usual worries, apprehensions and dread. We are relying on dichotomous reasoning where the only options are saying "stop" or "go" and saying something or being silent.

Those in apparent need of being told "stop" may welcome the cautionary advice. However, most of the time, they will resent it. They will hear the "stop message" as propaganda, preachy advice and unwelcome interference. This is yet another situation where the indoctrination needs some doctoring.

I've found it helpful to think out loud about the possible reasons the others are not stopping themselves. Their motives get regarded as mysterious and fascinating to me. The others usually get to wondering about themselves along with me. They value my indirect approach of not telling them to stop while I find lots to ponder, rather than dismissing them as hopeless, lost causes.

I also find a way to give them "go messages" in contradiction to the "stop messages" they're expecting. To do that, I need to perceive a process deeper than their conduct which begs to be stopped. I can then trust their underlying process and show them ways the process will work things out for the better. Here are some processes that often run deeper than any "behavior without brakes":
  1. exploring the limits and seeing how far they can push things before someone pushes back
  2. waiting for someone whose been ignoring them to say something or show an interest in them for a change
  3. begging for an argument or confrontation in order to experience themselves as confident, powerful and independent
  4. showing off to boost their flagging confidence and to overcome some nagging insecurities
  5. losing their perspective of the big issues they cannot impact while becoming obsessed with details they can control directly
  6. antagonizing some deserving control freak, power tripper or bully who shows no empathy, genuine concern or compassion
  7. trying prove themselves as equal or better than someone they admire and often imitate their approach to situations

Each of these processes eventually reach a conclusion. It finds a place of having enough, being ready for change, and wanting more variety of experiences. When this place is discovered, the people will naturally stop themselves. They don't need to be told to stop when these processes underly their conduct, they need those processes trusted to come to their own conclusions.

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