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This is how you quit with bad business habits (permanently)

Is there anything more human than having bad habits? We all have bad habits that could make us feel happy for a short while, but on the long run it makes us less content.

Personal habits in the private environment include smoking, drinking, snacking, not enough sport or no sport at all, fast fashion shopping, using your smartphone excessively, gossiping, gaming and so on.

In business there are also many bad habits. See the list on the righthand side with some well-known bad business habits. (This is only the top of the iceberg). Looks familiar? Keep on reading!

In general, our behaviour and attitudes are formed by habits that determine who we are and what we do. About 40% of everything we do in a day is driven by our habits. Most of the time we are not aware of our (bad) habits in business, so we do not realize the impact these habits can have. To quote Charles Duhigg (the writer of the book “The power of habits”): Your habits determine your destiny.

Hence, it is very important to pay attention to our subconsciousness and become aware of these bad habits.

Habits develop slowly. A particular small action, like correcting someone during a meeting, has an immediate positive result and you feel good about it. That is a reward. And this process is called the habit loop: Cue (what triggers your brain to do something) > Routine (the action/behaviour) > The reward (the prize you get as result for your routine).

So, you start repeating that sequence of cue>routine>reward over and over again and by doing that you turn the routine into a habit. If the brain is triggered for the wrong reason, the routine is often a bad habit.

The pitfall of bad habits is the short-term incentives. It is more pleasant to enjoy the immediate results now than to worry about the possible negative consequences of bad habits in the future. We aim for short-term gain. But we do not realize the long-term consequences of colleagues that get irritated and may avoid you, possible career limitations, customers that are less happy, disappointing business results and so on.

Why do we have bad business habits?

There are many reasons, but the most business reasons are: (1) want be in control, (2) no confidence in your colleagues, (3) stress, (4) lack of discipline and/or motivation and negative emotions like (4) uncertainty, (5) no or not enough appreciation, (6) trust or (7) recognition.

Of course it also has to do with character and personality, but that does not mean you can`t change it.

How to get rid of bad habits?

For each of the bad habits mentioned, I can write an entire blog on how to specifically deal with that habit and stop that. Stay tuned, I will do that in the months to come.

Here are some general best practices that are applicable to all bad business habits.

As a main issue is that many business professionals are not conscious of bad habits, or believe that what they do is not a bad habit, the first thing is to become aware of bad habits.

  • Watch carefully your behaviour, attitude and actions. Notice the reaction of other people (what they say to you, behind your back, what they write, if they are avoiding you, getting irritated, trying to nail or corner you, etc.) and find out why that is. Ask about your habits during performance reviews or directly in a meeting with your managers or a person you trust. If you ask honestly, you will get an honest answer.

  • Practice mindfulness. Make yourself aware. Whenever you get the urge to engage in an unwanted habit, make yourself very aware. Experience the sensation in your body, notice what you think, feel how you take action.

Your inner voice is your inner wisdom.

  • Minimize the immediate reward and envision the long-term consequences.

  • Evaluate consciously and regularly your actions, behaviour and attitude.

  • The best way to stop a bad habit is to replace it with another good habit. Because forbidding yourself something is experienced by your brain as meddling and your system will revolt. Offering yourself something else instead, is the better option!

  • Don’t try to boil the ocean. Start small and work only on one bad habit at the time.

THE GOLDEN NUGGET: Share your plan to stop a bad habit with your friends or colleagues. This has two advantages: 1. You create an obligation to keep your promise and 2. Your colleagues will appreciate this and will help you.

Please contact me if you would like to get more information or would like to be coached on quitting successfully with bad habits.


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