Examples of Skill-Building in Positive Supports

Our Environment Can Shape Our Behavior

Behavior is written on wooden blocks against a blue background

Different behaviors are expected from people when they spend time in local businesses, community buildings, or attend events and gatherings. The way in which the environment is organized can create a feeling of predictability that helps us understand what events are coming next. Environments are organized in ways that provide the cues for what behaviors are anticipated. We know that we will need to wait in a line to buy tickets for an event and follow the signs for driving our car through the fast food lane to purchase a meal.

Understanding the ways in which we communicate nonverbally and verbally in each setting is important for helping someone design their own supportive environment.

  • Doctor’s Office: Patients sign-in at a main counter that is clear when you walk in; seats are available after checking in with magazines signaling that you may need to wait
  • Library: Signs are available in different places prompting quiet voices, book returns are clearly marked, the help desk is usually in an easy to find spot in the building
  • Parade: People stand at the side of the road, some people bring chairs to sit on, a map is shared of the route in advance
  • Meetings: The groups of people who gather use similar organizing features (facilitators, agenda, meeting minutes)
  • Casinos: Free drinks are offered as you enter, the setting is inviting, it can be difficult to find the exit, incentives to gamble are frequently offered