How to change other people's behaviour

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How to change other people's behaviour

Here’s a tip - It starts with you

If there’s one thing that quarantine in both India & England has taught me is that people can become irritating. I’ve been noticing the nuances in my dad’s behaviour more and more as our isolation together drags on. The quirky things he does confuse the hell out of me. From the start, I knew that it would be comfortable living with my pops, he’s a laid back person, and nothing riles him up. Me, on the other hand, in the past, would have flipped on the ridiculous quirks he has. Take this morning, for example, he made an extraordinary fruit and granola breakfast but left a mess for me to clean up! (Yes, I know I should be grateful for being served breakfast but I don’t need the hassle of deep cleaning the kitchen every single day!)

It’s incredibly hard to change habitual behaviour, actions ingrained in our mind for decades, each time we undertake them, compounding further into our subconscious. To change this behaviour, I thought that a combination of negotiation, behaviour management and persuasion would be necessary. In reality, the ‘change’ starts with me.

Information overload attack

The subtle art of behaviour change requires an inward look of our actions first. When we see something we don’t like, our instinct is to search the archives of our brain to find every possible fact that relates to the action, proceeding to repeat it, in a gag reflex style of response. We assume if the other person knew what we knew, they’d change. It’s here that the issue lies, the problem with this method is, most of the time we’re repeating opinions based on our actions and the other person knows more than you! They recognise more about their successes and failures than you ever will. That is unless you’re inside their head! By giving them more seemingly compelling information, you arm their convincing personal narrative that inhibits them from even trying.

The solution to the external offensive charge is a moment of silence. To refrain from the gag reflex of information and keep our slew of scientific and personal reasonings to ourselves. Sitting with our thoughts for a moment is a powerful tool, to see if we are genuinely affected by the actions of another or if it’s a temporary emotion?

Failure to see the real problem

Your world is perfectly organised to create the results you are currently experiencing. - David Maxfield

This quote sums up perfectly that when we see a problem with someone else's behaviour, we need to take stock of our own. To change our perception of the world first rather than attempt to change someone else’s. In essence, we need a reflection on our personal narratives. To understand why certain actions invoke specific emotions is the key to understanding. Re-examine our stories, by asking internal questions that allow us to explore our motivations for wanting to change the other person. Is it an internal conflict which has magically manifested out of nothing or a more deep-rooted severe concern that is causing you pain. Educating ourselves on our emotions allows us to recognise the hidden internal strings that influence the thought processes that keep us stuck to a particular way of thinking.


One of the positions that I’ve found myself in during quarantine is one where my way of doing things was so ingrained as correct in my subconscious that I failed to realise how stupidly overcomplicated it is. Sometimes perspective is what is needed. Our inability to see others' views stems from a lack of understanding. I.e. not putting yourself in someone’s shoes and living with them, eventually if not done, this will result in fractures between individuals ultimately producing irritation with one another; but we’ve all been there, so don’t worry!

One concept that reminds me of avoiding this situation is that what is normal for you may or may not be normal for someone else. Normal is a respective term, not a one-size-fits-all. For instance, how India dealt with the lockdown, I would have considered it normal, while in the UK it may have been considered totalitarian. In essence, being able to understand another person's point of view is incredibly useful to understand their ‘why’, the reasoning behind their actions. Gaining perspectives gives a better chance of not losing your mind when someone doesn’t wash the dishes straight away.

Overall, the emotions within yourself are more important than attempting to, and more often than not failing to, change someone else's. Whether it’s through a diary, meditation or having an open conversation with your family and friends to uncover the root causes of your triggers, understanding yourself first is the unlock to start changing others.

What other ways can you change behaviour? Let me know in the comments or drop me a message on any of the following social networks. I would love to hear from you! — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube.