Ask The Experts

Sustaining behavioural changes

Question: People have told me that I interrupt them often during conversations. Some even say that I tend to talk more about myself without asking questions about others.

I really want to change this because in my newly promoted position, such behaviour can lead to poor ties with the people I deal with, which I cannot afford.

I have tried many ways to improve myself in this area and have even gone for training programmes on interpersonal relationships. I’ve talked to mentors who are specialists in this area, read books on this subject, and so forth.

I have seen some changes, but these changes are not for long as I tend to go back to my old ways. What shall I do now?

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Answer: What you have done so far is use extrinsic methods to deal with your stated issues. As your issues are more behavioural than intellectual, what you have gained from all the previous activities are more of increasing your knowledge on this subject matter.

Sure, you will remember them for a while on what you need to do, but soon you will go back to your old ways as expected. Indeed, there are inner complexities that need to be dealt with other than gaining more knowledge on this area.

Among them are your value system, self-image, emotional state and inner motivations. The area to focus on is in sharpening your mindfulness for ‘in-the-moment’ awareness of your behaviour. This can be done by developing your self-observation where you build structure and accountability on what you want to achieve.

Doing this will increase the self-awareness of your old habits even before they take place. With time, your entire body system will be rewired with new habits.

A structure you can use is to journal the ‘going-on’ of what happened and what you felt in the realms of sensations, emotions and thoughts, including what triggered the habit. You want to just record them without changing them.

The magical thing about this is your heightened self-awareness will soon lead to its removal naturally.

Powerful Questions You Can Ask Yourself:

• What circumstances trigger you to perform your old habits?

• What sensations take place in your body when you are doing this?

• What goes on in your mind when you are doing this?

• How can you notice them before they come to you?

Article by Dr Michael Heah, an ICF Master Certified Coach with


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