S3E13 The Behaviour Change Edition with Anne-Maartje Oud

S3E13 The Behaviour Change Edition with Anne-Maartje Oud

James chats with Anne-Maartje Oud, a behavioural consultant who has been working on increasing effective communication for over 19 years in the banking, healthcare, commercial and education sectors.


Her aim and focus is giving people and organisations a wake up call in a professional and informal way, enabling them to learn new behaviours and to use these effectively and appropriately. With her business, The Behaviour Company, she’s been developing customised courses in English and in Dutch for a variety of companies, organisations and institutions. The customers are managers, directors and professionals who wish to communicate and influence more effectively in order to achieve their goals.


They discuss pronouncing names, telling it as it is, becoming more effective, giving feedback, your communication style, and non-verbal communication.


Contact Anne-Maartje:


Web: www.behaviourcompany.eu
Email: anne-maartje@behaviourcompany.eu
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/annemaartjeoud/
Twitter: twitter.com/annemaartjeoud

Click for the full transcript

James Nathan 0:53 Hello and welcome to The Only One Business Show with me your host James Nathan and my guest today, all the way from Amsterdam is a behavioural consultant who has been working on increasing effective communication for over 19 years in the banking, healthcare, commercial and education sectors. Her aim and focus is giving people and organisations a wake up call in a professional and informal way, enabling them to learn new behaviours and to use these effectively and appropriately. With her business, The Behaviour Company, which was founded in 2006, she’s been developing customised courses in English and in Dutch for a variety of companies, organisations and institutions. The customers are managers, directors and professionals who wish to communicate and influence more effectively in order to achieve their goals. Described as passionate straightforward, as well as committed, please welcome Anne-Maartje Oud. Anne-Maartje, how are you today?


Anne-Maartje Oud 1:50 Well, James, thank you so much. That is absolutely perfect how you pronounced my name. I’m impressed. I must say.


James Nathan 1:57 Do you know what, obviously we spoke before and I did ask you how to pronounce it. And then I was practising… there’s a video on YouTube of someone explaining how to pronounce different Dutch names and I thought right I’m gonna get this right. And so if that’s, if that’s close enough, I’m happy because my lips won’t move in any better direction than that.


Anne-Maartje Oud 2:15 No it’s really impressive and just to make it a bit more easier you can call me Anne, it’s no problem.


James Nathan 2:22 Well, I try not to…. we went using years ago before when children were born and you know, I went for our last big holiday to China, which you know, people are travelling there, well won’t be travelling I don’t think for a while… but and everybody we met had a lovely Chinese name and they always told you something else. So they tell you the name then they’d say, you can call me Carol. And also that was really disappointing. I thought you’ve got a name. I want to learn how to pronounce it. It’s only right.


Anne-Maartje Oud 2:46 Well, if you want to you can call me on my Anne-Maartje. But I just want to make easier. I saw that actually in China you have these classes where they choose an English name and they have the stickers on so they refer to themselves in the class as well.


James Nathan 3:00 Yeah, I think it’s sad but anyway, how things in Amsterdam today’s it nice and sunny there too?


Anne-Maartje Oud 3:08 No Actually it’s a bit windy there’s sometimes the sun pops out so to say but it’s not the best weather we had fantastic weather a few days ago but now it’s just a bit gloomy, you know not the best.


James Nathan 3:21 Well, it’s a lovely city to be in anyway, but it’s it’s one of my favourite places to visit except in the winter when it’s so cold there. Tell me about The Behaviour Company? How did you start it? How what was the story that led you to to where you are now?


Anne-Maartje Oud 3:36 I started it in 2006. And I think it was because I was stubborn. I was working in a different company at that time, and I wanted to do it my way. I think that is the summoning up. There are lots of trading companies and coaching companies. But I thought that this is my belief that could be a bit firmer sometimes. So that’s what I…. And I did it. So I’m very happy that I made that choice. It was really exciting, of course, and I didn’t know if I would make the right choice. But I couldn’t help myself so to say.


James Nathan 4:15 And so what do what brings a comparable and what brings a business or person to you guys? Why would they want to come and work with you?


Anne-Maartje Oud 4:23 Well, usually they want to be confronted. Especially when you’re in, you know, in a certain setting in your business and your management team or you’re CEO. Sometimes you don’t get feedback anymore because people don’t dare to do this, I would say all they give you feedback in a way that is not enough for you. So usually people come to us because they really want to know and really want to focus on their own behaviour, like, Who am I? What do I do? Can you please explain to me what can I do differently? So it’s all about being confronted with behaviour.


James Nathan 5:01 You say people aren’t getting feedback anymore. Is that because they just within the business they don’t people don’t feel they can give it? Or is it just because they haven’t got the mechanisms around them for that? Or how does that situation occur?


Anne-Maartje Oud 5:16 Well, I think it’s both sometimes people are afraid because it’s higher key, and then they don’t dare with bosses… yeah you can tell me everything. And maybe they’re a bit reluctant to do it. But sometimes it’s also because of time and, you know, people focus on their business and sometimes they forget that behaviour is a part of it. Or yeah, then don’t take the time to do that.


James Nathan 5:40 And so what are they looking for from you, though? I understand you say they want to be confronted there, what they’re not getting that feedback. What are they looking for as an outcome?


Anne-Maartje Oud 5:50 I think in the end that they want to learn what they can do differently or improve or enhance and that means that what we try to do is really give them specific feedback. So if somebody says, yeah, I want to lead my team in a different way, then we’re not just saying, okay, you can do this, but kind of give them… sometimes I compare it to a painter, you know, you’ve got all these colours, but sometimes you just used to use maybe blue and yellow or something. But if you give them different ideas and different behaviours and different choices, that’s what they want to achieve from us. So options, I think that’s the word, yeah, different options in behaviour.


James Nathan 6:33 And is that to make them more efficient, more effective to make them better leaders? What what is it that they’re looking for


Anne-Maartje Oud 6:39 All of the above? I think, well, what you say is you want to, you want to be unique and not just as a company. Also as a person you want to achieve your goals. And if you see that it’s not happening. And you do know what you want is very frustrated with it because they know what they want, and it’s not about the money, it’s not the battle, also of course about really getting things done. And if you feel like okay, I have to do something, I want to influence the situation and I don’t know how, then that’s helpful if you can focus on your own behaviour, or also focus on what so far is the effect of your behaviour, because a lot of people aren’t aware of that either.


James Nathan 7:26 Most people will say, most businesses and leaders will say, I want to be better, I want to improve, I want to look at what I’m doing. Be honest with me. Tell me the facts. But people don’t often like it when you tell them the facts. Is that is do you Is that something you find? I mean, I know in my own world, that’s that’s been a thing for me. I always wanted to know the truth. But when I got the truth, I didn’t really enjoy that.


Anne-Maartje Oud 7:49 Yeah, and the truth is always you can say is it a truth or is it an impression. What we try to say is this is the effect you have on certain people and you will have different effects on others. So the truth, yeah, that what is the truth? It’s not always, it’s not always nice for them. And yeah, I mean even for ourselves if you get feedback, even if people say something like, you know, I failed, you people don’t want to fail, they don’t want to do well, those kind of things. So if you are addressed with something that you can improve, it’s not always nice to hear that but because they are eager to learn and they want to achieve something that is okay. And I hope I tell them in a way that they’re not offended all the time.


James Nathan 8:34 Well, I guess, you know, what you mentioned in the new your intro there, you know, straight forward. You know, I think you often need to be. When I said the truth, I guess what I mean by that is that, you know, someone’s perception of you is their reality. And, how you affect others, I guess is, you know, it’s gonna be very, very different all the time. How do you get that information? Give us an idea of sort of how things going, I come to you in my business I say, Anne-Maartje, I don’t know what’s going on here, but I really want to get better. I’m not getting the results I want from people. What do you do?


Anne-Maartje Oud 9:09 Well, and I would first compliment you, because then you’re a brave leader. And you’re not. Yeah. And like you said, not a lot. Not a lot of leaders do that. So first, I would say well, well done James, my complements. Usually what we do is we ask them what isn’t going well, to make it more specific because if people say we want to be better, we want to communicate better that is such a broad question. That’s really difficult. So we try to go into detail what is it that is missing or that’s lacking? Is it the team? Is it you know, all those kind of things. And then we try to, depends if it’s a team or a person, but we always say what we try to do is we… well we scrutinise them, harsh word, but we try to observe them if possible during a setting at their job. Which these days of course, it’s not really possible because we can’t visit people. But we, we try to work with psychological tests or with conversations and during those conversations, we really focus on tell us about your behaviour or we observe them watching their behaviour. So that would be the first step and then we try to match like, what are you doing and what what is the effect? What, sometimes you just want to emphasise that it’s really good what they’re doing, because that might be the case that they think they’re not doing it right. But it is going well. So we call that part, that’s part two, confronting and sometimes when it doesn’t match the goal, which usually is the case because they observe that themselves, of course, then we go further into detail and we try to create assignments that they have to try out to go to new behaviour. We give them advice on why don’t you do this, or maybe you can go for that situation, you know, so we, we help them practice new behaviour. And usually it’s in the details. It’s so funny sometimes even that, I coached one person one day, and he wasn’t looking people in the eye when he was talking to them, which is a minor thing you could say, and a huge thing at the same time. So just by addressing that, and we started with just stop just trying to start to look people in the eye. And the effect was amazing, of course, but that’s a minor thing and a big thing.


James Nathan 11:41 But it’s a cultural thing as well at times, isn’t it? Because obviously you work across different countries. You know, Holland and England very close in geographical proximity, but very, very different cultures. Do you find that… when you mentioned that looking in the eye thing, I think back to a story of someone working with kids here who’d come up from Africa and they wouldn’t look at an adult in the eye because it was seen as being rude, to them. Is there a massive cultural difference that you find in different businesses?


Anne-Maartje Oud 12:19 Hmm, well, this, this is a question that people ask a lot. And of course, you can always notice cultural differences. But what I try to do, which has helped me and my business so far is just to look at human behaviour. So, for instance, when we talk about feedback in the Netherlands, when you get feedback, it’s it’s firm, you know, you just say what it is, even to the point where we say, it doesn’t mean that it’s true. That’s why I responded to that, because sometimes people think that their opinion is the truth. So when when they give feedback in the Netherlands is very direct. The opposite you could say, I thought in the beginning was in England, where people kind of do not tell each other what they think about each other. So there were lots of training sessions I did there. But in the end, that’s why it was so funny. They just needed to understand how you can give proper feedback that has a content, that it’s not shocking. What I said at one point in a training session is that it can be even rude not to give feedback. And with that construct, they started to change their opinion on feedback, because then they thought it was valuable. And they in the beginning thought it was, you know, negative or rude to give feedback, but just changing the cultural perception at least in that setting, by saying it could also be rude not to tell somebody like, oh, yes, that’s actually. So to say something about cultural differences. I think if we look at human behaviour, we’re all different humans and one person dares to give feedback and the other one doesn’t.


James Nathan 14:08 I think it’s interesting what you say there. What occurred to me while you’re talking is, obviously if I’m, if I’m seeking feedback, if I’m the one that comes to you and says, listen, I really want you to tell me that, you know, what you see? Yeah, the truth. But I guess it’s based on observation, isn’t it? I mean, you’re not saying to these people, you’re a nasty person, what you’re saying is, my observation of your behaviour is this and if we change these things, this this is the result you’re going to get. Is that, is that kind of the right…. getting the right idea from you?


Anne-Maartje Oud 14:36 Yeah, definitely. Although, and this is where it gets a bit tricky. Sometimes I, how do you say this? I try to, sometimes what I try to do… If somebody comes across as a nasty person, I would, I would try to give you the opportunity to say that because if we stick to this very strict rules of feedback. It’s not, it’s not genuine anymore. And if you come across as a nasty person, I shouldn’t say, hey, you are a nasty person, James. But if I can tell you because you’re doing this, the effect on me is that I feel awkward with you. It’s kind of like you’re a nasty person. That might sound super rude and confronting, but it also helps you because then you know how I feel. And then it’s your choice if you want to change that, but it’s…. Yeah, it’s like you say, but sometimes you have to go to this intense feedback. I don’t think you’re a nasty person, by the way.


James Nathan 15:42 Thank you. I try not to be, although, you know, it’s….. having been through sort of programmes when I was in corporate going through a 360 feedback process and I found that very brutal. I must say, I didn’t like what I heard, a lot of a lot of what I heard initially. But then we You go and you process I guess, then you can say, right, okay, well, there’s…. let me see how I can make myself a better person. And I think we all want to be the best people we can be. It’s just some of us will seek feedback and actually do something about it. Do you find people do take do do change? Or do they change in the short term, and then go back to their previous behaviours anyway?


Anne-Maartje Oud 16:22 I like that question. I always hope that they change for the long run. Of course, I don’t see it all the time. But I think there’s a few things that are very important. And one of them, one of that is the will to change and to, as you say, be a better person. And I think if it’s better, you can say more effective or those kinds of things. Because if they understand, hey, this behaviour leads to what I want or need or as beneficiary for my company or my team, then usually, at least that’s my experience, the behaviour stays in there before you know the behaviour lasts. But if they just do it from a shallow point of, oh yeah, let’s do this for a while, you know, those kind of things, then I think it’s difficult to do this because then they don’t have a connection with a goal or connection with behaviour and it just becomes a shallow choice. And habits are difficult to to change as we all know.


James Nathan 17:29 Of course they are. And it is certain things that you see more regularly than others. Are there certain behaviours, which are more prevalent, that people listening can think, actually, you know, what, let me think around this, is that something that I’m doing that I need to think about more


Anne-Maartje Oud 17:43 As a manager or do I mean in general?


James Nathan 17:47 Within businesses there, and let’s say from a leaders perspective, or there’s some behaviours you see more often than not that are more regularly which people can think about improving?


Anne-Maartje Oud 17:59 Yeah, I would say, let me start with the teams first. Because when I go to companies, a lot of times, it’s, again about the feedback that the team doesn’t say stuff to the manager. So sometimes we have these pre conversations. And then I talk one on one with people about the manager or about the team. And sometimes they all tell me the same on a specific behaviour they come across, and that they find difficult to work with. So then I asked them, did you did you tell your manager, did you tell your team and not have them say, no, we didn’t. So what I always hope, and it’s not that I don’t want to work, but it would save a lot of people, a lot of training sessions if you just say what you want to say. And if that’s difficult for you, you can address that or you can work around it. So one thing I would say please share your knowledge, share what you observe, share what you do, and from the managers point of views, I would say a lot of managers are so busy all the time that they forget to interact with their team on a different level than just; hey, guys, this is a new project, you know, is there really interaction? Just having a chat sometimes and to investigate what’s really going on and not investigation like a, like a police officer. But yeah.


James Nathan 19:27 And you mentioned that eye contact thing before how much is verbal and nonverbal, different? Well, let me rephrase that question. You mentioned eye contact before. And obviously, communication is varied. How much? How much is communication nonverbal as opposed to verbal, do you think?


Anne-Maartje Oud 19:48 Well, I would say if people would understand body language that more would be less trouble in the world? Well, let me rephrase that. What I mean is it’s so sad people when they want to get something across, they really focus on the content. They try to come up with good arguments and try to say it in the right way. But the nonverbal communication will help you beyond everything I would say, it’s so important. And if you start to understand that by studying body language, or maybe even go back to the part where we all understood it, because as children, we were so much more focused on that, I think that nonverbal communication can help you through the day, and really help you set those goals and go further in what you want to achieve.


James Nathan 20:44 Because one question, well, one thing that comes up a lot is this some statistics around body language that seem to be touted all the time and things like communication is you know how for many percent of one thing or a certain percentage of what you say, a certain percentage of how you say it and a certain percentage of body language. And those statistics get ramped out all the time. Are they true?


Anne-Maartje Oud 21:11 Well, it’s about the truth again. Well, I haven’t studied it scientifically. Sorry. So if I would have to give you like scientific numbers, then that is an interpretation again, but what we can see and all the studies I’ve studied so far, like all the books I’ve read, and all the people I’ve spoken to, and all the data so to say, would say that the most important thing that stays with you is the nonverbal communication. And as we call the para verbal communication, which is sound and tone and all those kinds of things. So it could be 80%. It could be 90%. A lot of people say it’s 80%. Is it true, I don’t know if it’s 81%, so to say, but what I do know is that it’s really, really, really important. And you see if we start working with that, and we start to tell people like, do you understand what you’re doing? Or can you just sit in a different way or those kinds of things that the effect is so much better than, okay, we write your speech, you know, of course content is important. But yes, it’s really, really important. So is it true now? I would say yes.


James Nathan 22:31 Okay, because I always wondered I look at it and think well, okay, if it’s if…. I can’t remember the exact stats, it’s something like 80% is nonverbal, but doesn’t it change over time? Because if I stand up and I start to speak, and I pronunciate beautifully and I have great stage presence and I use all the right tone and and my body language is perfect and I talk absolute and total nonsense. Okay, people. I mean people will know people will pick up on that very quickly. Won’t they?


Anne-Maartje Oud 23:05 It’s like absolute nonsense. Yes.


James Nathan 23:08 Yeah, you know, I was thinking Trump there for a minute, you know, just rabbits on and, but I don’t often think that he has his great stage presence, you know, but it must change over time through the guise of the communication.


Anne-Maartje Oud 23:22 If we start with Donald Trump, let I hope it will turn to them people finally will pick up on it that it’s rubbish, but that will, that’s probably taking your time but let’s not start with him. But of course, if it’s like really rubbish people will notice but I always give the example of commercials. When you look at a commercial and it’s all it could be any product but it’s very visual. You know, there’s music there’s this smiley faces and everything and there’s a tagline and sometimes when you really look at it, and you really try to analyse what is going on on this commercial And you still feel happy about this product because they try to influence you with nonverbal so to say, with the pictures. I think you’re right that it could affect you in time. So sometimes when somebody comes across in the beginning as a very nice, energetic person, very smart, those kinds of things, and then all of a sudden you hear rubbish, as you would say, yes, that has an effect. But it doesn’t mean that people will fully understand that because of them. You could say distraction on the nonverbal communication. So the 20% assuming that it’s the 20 to 21%. Yes, that is very important. And if you talk rubbish people will notice, but a lot of people will not so it’s also are you alert, are you aware? Yeah.


James Nathan 24:55 It’s very interesting to talk around. I always I so many people have different theories about it. And obviously so working, with talking to someone who works day in day out with behaviour and communication, it makes you wonder whether it’s perhaps time for more studies in that area to, to make sense of communication as it is now because we communicate quite differently, I guess to the way we did 20 years ago. And even the way we use language has become so much more global. These things must be continually moving on which which makes them absolutely fascinating. Anne-Maartje, please give us just before we…. because we can talk about this forever in a day. But the the one thing that people could do today in their businesses, your big idea, your one golden nugget, something they could do today, to make their businesses better for today and better for the years to come. What would that be?


Anne-Maartje Oud 25:51 Okay, so thank you so much for that question. I really like that. For me, I think it’s very important if people observe. So observe the surroundings themselves, other people, and from that observation become aware of the effect they have, and then act upon it. So either have the same behaviour, change the behaviour, but really, if I would summon it up, just observe and act.


James Nathan 26:19 Fantastic. Anne-Maartje, thank you so much has been absolutely fantastic chatting with you.



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