How to Build a Habit of Being There for Others

Published On: July 19, 2023Categories: Blog

We talk a lot about one of the core concepts of the FISH! Philosophy, which is Be There. Be There is all about showing up for our team and our coworkers, treating them like real humans with real successes, challenges, and emotions–both positive and negative. By being there for others in the workplace, we create and foster these simple human connections that result in stronger team bonds, more open and transparent communication, and ultimately greater achievement by everyone.

But it’s not always as simple as it sounds–like any other practice, in order to Be There for others you need to build a habit out of offering this type of support and compassion. And as we all know, building habits isn’t easy. Various sources pin habit-forming timelines at anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months of daily practice before a new part of your routine becomes automatic, and that can be tough to achieve.

So how do we build a habit at all, and how do we specifically build a habit of Being There for our team in a way that helps advance our professional goals?

How to build a habit

Building a habit isn’t just something that has to happen through brute force. While sure, some of us are capable of just “making ourselves do something” until it becomes habitual, most of us are better off looking at things a bit more analytically–what are the core functions and components of a habit, and how can we use those to introduce a new one?

Habits are really made up of 3 main components: cues, routines, and rewards:

  • Cues: The signifiers that trigger a habitual response. These can take the form of a certain time on the clock (“at 3pm, I get a cup of coffee”), an action (“when I put on my pajamas, I go brush my teeth”), or even behavior of others (“when John starts talking about his boat during a meeting, I fidget with my pen”).
  • Routines: These are the actions that we think of as the habit itself. Functionally, when we’re trying to build a habit, we’re trying to automatically associate these routines with the cues. In the above examples, getting coffee, brushing your teeth, and fidgeting with your pen are all the routines.
  • Rewards: The benefits we derive from a routine that help complete the positive feedback loop and make the routine habitual. Sometimes rewards are obvious and immediate (“when I get a cup of coffee, I get an energy boost from the caffeine”), sometimes they’re delayed (“when I brush my teeth, my dentist visits hurt less and cost less because my teeth are healthier”), and sometimes they can be totally emotional (“when I fidget with my pen, it helps me ignore John’s annoying bragging and stay focused on the meeting topic”)

Building a habit successfully typically requires you to tackle these components in reverse order. You want to start by identifying a reward that will actually motivate you to build a habit. Then you work out exactly what new routine will fulfill that reward. Once you’ve got these two figured out, the last step is figuring out a good cue to help trigger that routine and get your reward.

How to make a habit of Being there

So now let’s move to the real goal here: practicing the FISH! Philosophy pillar of Be There in your workplace. How do we build a habit out of genuine emotional engagement while still maintaining our workflow? Let’s go through the steps:

  • Identify your reward: In the long term, your reward for Being There should be an increased connection with your coworkers and stronger team output. But that’s not always immediate, so what rewards will help us practice this on a day-to-day basis? It could be that checking in with coworkers rewards you by giving you 5 minutes to take a break from spreadsheets and stretch your legs. Or, your reward could be that your coworkers now ask you about your day or offer to help with things when they otherwise wouldn’t. Or, if you’re an extrovert, the conversation itself may serve as its own reward.
  • Choose your routine: The difficulty in turning Be There into a habit is that it’s not a simple action, but an emotional concept. So what actions can you build into a routine that fulfill this? Your routine could be taking lunch in the break room instead of your desk. It could be saying hello to a coworker every time you get up for coffee. Or, it could be a routine of consciously engaging with others when they start a conversation rather than giving the minimal response needed to “wrap it up” quickly.
  • Find your cue: Once you have your routine, what triggers this behavior? Maybe your cue will be the words “How are you?” from a coworker. Maybe it’ll be that at 10am you get a fresh cup of coffee (and make time for check-ins along the way). Or maybe when the microwave dings, that’s your cue to grab your food and sit down at a table rather than make that walk back to your desk.

When you’ve figured out these steps, now comes the simple (but not necessarily easy) part: putting it into practice. It may not be comfortable at first, but each time you do it, it should become a bit more automatic. And once others see your habit of being open, supportive, and emotionally available, it’s likely that they’ll start returning the favor–strengthening those bonds that build the most successful teams.

Ideas to Reflect On:

  • What are the benefits of Being There for your coworkers? How can they help improve the workplace experience of both your team and yourself personally?
  • Pick one habit you’ve already built in your life–what are the cues, routines, and rewards that make up that habit?
  • What’s one way you can practice Being there for others in your workplace every day? How can you build that practice into a habit using the steps outlined above?

Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and avoid the symptoms of impending burnout. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

Want to Implement FISH! in your organization?

Are you a leader?  Do you train others?  Do you want others to be leaders?

Charthouse Learning, the creator of the world-famous, award-winning, FISH! film is offering an in-person, 2-day workshop, interactive Train-the-Trainer lead by our Senior Trainer.

During our time together you’ll learn how to:

  • Share the motivation and foundation of FISH!
  • Introduce the FISH! film with the four practices.
  • Present the invitation to apply the practices in everyday interaction with others.
  • Build a sustainability and reinforcement program to transform the culture.
  • Pick up tips from other FISH! Philosophers and develop a strategy to embed the practices into the DNA of your culture.
  • Create an energized organization that is the “first choice” for employees, faculty, staff, leaders, and customers.

Plus, you will learn how to create a workplace where people choose to “be and bring” their best self everywhere, every day.

At the FISH! Train the Trainer you will:

  • Dive Deep: Discover The FISH! Philosophy – full of “A-ha!” takeaways and perspective-shifting realizations.
  • Transform: Make the four FISH! practices – Play, Be There, Make Their Day and Choose Your Attitude – an essential part of your professional and personal skill set.
  • Discover: Learn practical ways to apply the FISH! practices to improve teamwork, service, leadership, retention and performance.
  • Develop: Brainstorm strategies to embed The FISH! Philosophy into the DNA of your culture, strengthening your mission, vision and values.
  • Collaborate: Learn and laugh with like-minded folks from across the globe.

Click Here for More FISH! Train the Trainer Information

FISH! Executive Briefing

You have probably heard about the Culture Shift in the news. Organizations are struggling to find talent, employee morale is low, retention is a common goal and customers are dissatisfied with buying experiences.

These are all symptoms of an underlying challenge leadership is faced with every day, regardless of the industry. You can look for temporary relief or an overall, long-term cure.

Join us for a 60-minute webinar on the world-famous, award-winning FISH! practices.

Click Here for More FISH! Executive Briefing Information


Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and introduce Play into your organization. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

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