We are all defined by our behaviours, quite literally so. Our behaviour affects how we engage with not only the external world, but also reflects on how we engage with ourselves. It is this engagement that drives the world around us… Yet we hardly ever consider this fact. Ain’t this true?
I am neither a behavioural health expert, nor a mental health expert. However, there are many who practice without many credentials. In fact, the rulings and regulations around the required credentials for counselling in India is still nascent. But since I have been a business professional, and worked through people behaviours and also suffered business behaviours, and because I now work in the mental health and well-being space, I am taking the liberty of expressing the opinions of a minion from this field.
As per Wikipedia, the word ‘behaviours’ extends itself to not just individuals and human beings but also to all other living beings, systems or artificial entities in conjunction with themselves or their environment. How we react or our mannerisms, as they play out have been ensconced under the apparel of behavioural sciences. This ‘science’ of behavioural sciences is studied not only with respect to human beings, but also cultures, systems etc. So much so that a lot of research today happens on the behavioural side of economics as well. Ironically our behaviour’s are being studied for their effects on the growth of economy, and for many business professionals, for how to use these behaviours for economic gains for the business.
To understand what created these behaviours, I researched various elements of our environment that surrounds us. And hence I came upon the need to understand culture and if it shaped our behaviours. The discovery that both cultures and behaviours do get driven and impacted by each other came upon with some apprehension. It is so said that human behaviour is affected by both genetic inheritance as well as experience. This is quite a deep-seated aspect. And a very critical part of our mental frameworks. This leads to the belief that to support our behavioural health, it is important to understand the culture to which one belongs and, maybe, similar aspects need to be applied to the behaviours of other abstracts of our environment – our work culture especially. The culture and employee behaviours impact productivity of the organization. Many studies ascertain that work life imbalances and work stress impact mental health of the employees and this leads to loss of productivity. The WHO statistics to this effect are overwhelming. And these ‘effects and loss of productivity can definitely be minimized by the right interventions.
If we look at the world as one large community and one large economy, it is invariably driven by basic human instincts and colored by the effects of the various cultures. These in turn are determined by the geography, the resource availability, the climate and many other natural factors and how overcoming challenges arising of these for survival have evolved over centuries.
As the world got knitted together, not just by the expanse of the earth, but more through transportation and communication channels. As a result, new patterns of expected behaviours have evolved. Many of us in the corporate world undergo trainings on managing cultural diversity for better work output. As the global communities have come together to expand the economic gains, it is imperative to understand the different cultures of different geographies, and to keep the sensitivities in mind as we connect across different countries. Each place has its own unique way of living and environment driven by resources and other elements of this environment. One thing is for sure, communication is key, and, if one looks deeper, the key aspects and strains of human behaviour do remain the same, albeit with some differences
But one thing remains sacrosanct through all of this: behaviours are the defining factors for humans, systems and cultures – for output, end result, and the final product. It is well understood that the environment affects, rather shapes these behaviours and vice versa. And, thus it becomes important to understand the environment to be able to shape the behaviours. Especially when we all exist in such a volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous (VUCA) world!
This is true not just for our day to day living, as behaviours add to the quality of it, but also true for our business environments, our political environments as well as the social fabric which is an essential core of our survival. The ongoing pandemic has made our already VUCA world more so. The effects of these on people’s health, homes, and other behaviours are telling.
There is an increased focus on behavioural and mental health today. This heightened focus has been driven by the widened need supply gap hugely as a key after effect of the pandemic. There are an enormous number of mental health start-ups that have sprung up across varied geographies – some serious players, some fly by night operators. The need of the hour today is not just better regulations and governance by the respective authorities but by our own selves as well to recognize our issues well in advance and nip the evil in the bud.
Awareness about mental health and mental well-being needs to be given due importance by educators, employers, and by each one of us. While we all look out for developmental anomalies and mental disease evidences, the focus needs to also shift to creating strong mental frameworks in the first place.
With strong mental frameworks driven right through our developmental years, we will all be better equipped to handle our emotional ups and downs largely motivated by our VUCA world. Perhaps a focus on creating a mentally strong human force actually leads to a less toxic and a less VUCA world.
While we work around the above challenges through research-based methodologies, let us all focus on looking after our behavioural health today and give it the requisite attention – recognize and understand our own pain points, address those pain points by seeking professional help, in time. Ironically enough, the same can be said for systems, businesses etc.
Let me conclude by saying that if health is wealth, our behaviours are the cornerstones or the tombstones of everything around us, be these of our lives, our health, our work or the overall economy.