A colleague was complaining about a co-worker with a thorny personality. This woman was condescending and rude to her employees, and thus morale was low. My friend wanted her to be nicer to her employees, but was at a loss of how to change her personality.
I told her that while this woman isn’t nice, she greatly values efficiency and effectiveness. I suggested that my friend ask how well her brusque and biting approach was working with her staff (spoiler alert: it isn’t). She may be encouraged to be nice not from a natural warmth but from a desire for effectiveness in her team. My friend thought it was a great idea and would try it out.
Sometimes it is possible to convince someone to change their behavior not by appealing to human kindness but by leveraging other motives.