Posted in performance, self-improvement

19 Bad Habits and How to Fix Them

  1. Judge when someone gives you advice or feedback; just say ‘thank you”
  2. Get too caught up in winning too much; determine if the winning is worth the cost
  3. Get too caught up in adding too much value (especially if you are a boss); if people are sharing something you know well or agree on, allow them to share it, don’t feel you have to add to it just because you know about it; don’t even judge it by saying “great idea” or “good idea”; just listen well if you don’t have anything worth sharing
  4. Pass judgment when you’ve asked someone to give you their opinion; passing judgment sounds like, “I hear you but…or I understand however….”
    1. Ask yourself – Will my comment help the situation? Will it help the person I’m talking to? Will it help the person I’m talking about?
    2. Remember, being smart is a turn on; announcing how smart you are is a turn off
  5. Start sentences with No, But or However; If you think you don’t do this, set out a jar on your desk and pay it everything you use those words…check the jar at the end of the day, the week….
  6. Speak when angry; you can’t lead people when you are out of control
    1. “If you keep your mouth shut when you are angry, you will never lose your reputation.”
  7. Be negative saying thoughts like “Let me tell you why that won’t work.”
  8. Withhold information; withholding information occurs when we give someone a task but don’t show them how to do it, when we are too busy to get back to someone with valuable information, and when we forget to include people in meetings and discussions
  9. Claim credit that you don’t deserve; share the wealth
  10. Make excuses; blaming the traffic is a lame excuse for keeping people waiting so is blaming your genetics – I’m impatient, I have a quick temper, etc.
  11. Cling to the past; simply think, if you want to change do this….don’t worry about the why behind what you are changing
  12. Play favorites
  13. Refuse to express regrets; “I’m sorry” are very powerful words, people who can’t say them are saying, “I don’t care about you.”
  14. Not listen; when you fail to listen you are saying, “I don’t care about you,” “I don’t understand you,” “You’re wrong,” “You’re stupid,” “You’re wasting my time,” and all of the above
  15. Fail to give gratitude; Say “thank you” when given a compliment
  16. Punish the messenger
  17. Pass the buck
  18. An excessive need to be “me”
  19. Goal obsession – trying to do what you think others want you to do and missing the bigger picture

How to fix them:

  • Get honest feedback from family and friends
    • Clearly communicate your vision
    • Treat people with respect
    • Solicit contrary opinions
    • Encourage other people’s ideas
    • Listen to other people in meetings
  • Make 4 commitments
    • Let go of the past
    • Tell the truth
    • Be supportive and helpful, not negative and cynical
    • Pick one thing to improve on
  • Once you’ve picked one habit to improve
    • Make a list of people’s casual remarks about you
    • Watch how people’s body language is around you (trying ‘listening’ to them with the sound off)
    • Complete the sentence ….If I (change this habit), I’ll ….
    • Listen to your self-aggrandizing remarks
    • Apologize to all who deserve it
    • After you’ve apologized….advertise that you want to get better
    • Remember that success has 7 phases
      • Assessing the situation
      • Isolating the problem
      • Formulating a solution
      • Woo up – get your superiors to approve
      • Woo laterally – get your peers to agree
      • Woo down – get your direct reports to accept
      • Implement
    • Repeat the message as often as needed
      • Treat every day as an opportunity to get your message out, and as if you are being judged, because you are
      • Treat every day as an opportunity to remind people that you are trying hard on their behalf
      • Treat every day as an opportunity to take on all challenges
      • Treat every day as a process of weeks, months, years; not just days.
    • Think before you speak
      • Listen with respect
      • Ask yourself if what you want to say is worth saying
      • Listen, don’t interrupt, don’t finish other people’s sentences, don’t say, “I knew that,” don’t agree with the person talking, just say, “thank you,” don’t use words like no, but or however, and don’t be distracted
      • Listen by asking intelligent questions that
        • show that you were paying attention
        • move the conversation forward
        • require the other person to talk (while you listen)
      • Follow up is how
        • You measure your progress
        • We remind people we are trying to change
        • Our efforts get imprinted on our colleagues minds
        • We erase our colleagues’ skepticism about us
        • We acknowledge to ourselves and others that getting better is an ongoing process


Have a coach that keeps you honest on the important things in your life. An example given is the author’s coach calls him nightly to ask

  1. How much walking did you do today?
  2. How many pushups did you do today?
  3. How many sit-ups did you do today?
  4. Did you eat any high fat foods today?
  5. How much alcohol did you drink today?
  6. How many hours of sleep did you get today?
  7. How much time did you spend watching TV or surfing the internet today?
  8. How much time did you spend writing?
  9. Did you do something nice for your wife? Your kids?
  10. How many times did you try to prove that you were right on a subject that didn’t matter?


Reference: Goldsmith, M (2007) WHAT GOT YOU HERE WON’T GET YOU THERE: How Successful People Become Even More Successful! New York: Hyperion Publications



Dr. Sheila Embry is a govie, author, pracademician, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend who loves to read, write, think, and laugh. Many of her blog postings are summaries or excerpts of books that she read and wants to share to encourage others. An author with more than 25 years experience within the legislative and executive branches of the U. S. federal government holding 3 accredited degrees: Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, Master of Arts in Human Resources Development, and Baccalaureate of Business Administration, she believes in continuing learning both on and off the job. She has been recognized with multiple professional and writing awards for her peer-reviewed, publications. Click the bibliography page above for a listing of all the publications.

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