My boss in my previous project, was not a good manager, in my opinion. She had very controlling nature. She would treat me like a school child and put her nose in each and every matter and work. She would demotivate everyone under her, by her nervy misbehavior now and then, but still she will fail giving responsibilities to her team, because she has to keep all control to herself, as a result will continue being nervy.

She used to also taunt me telling that she didn't do her Bachelors from a good university like me, because her parents didn't allow her to stay in hostel. And she will boast that she was the 1st girl throughout her studies and a gold medalist in her bachelor degree in college.

Also, I have noticed, she never selected a male member under her when interviews happen. She wouldn't even interview them. Always got girls in her team, probably because she already knew no guy will tolerate so much controlling.

I used to watch and listen all these silently, but I could see all her short comings because I had worked under many great and motivating managers before her.

All fine, but the problem is, now I suspect, I have imbibed many such bad habits from her unknowingly though I was very clearly able to see these were her shortcomings.

For example, recently two of my peers got into ego problem with me (at different places and situations). They just stabbed me and made me more or less cry. When I analysed the situation, I guessed, probably they felt I am controlling too much the shared work, in my own way, like a school teacher, and not giving them importance. But I never had problems with team members before. Yes, I had, in the sense that, some people took advantage of my innocense and rose up keeping me behind, but no one had any complaint about me. I used to always get feedback of being a very cooperative and nice team mate and boss. I also become nervy and full of tension with small small deliveries, as if I am always struggling to become 100% perfect and the best. It was never my nature before.

Also, I have taken admission to an university for my post-graduation, and when the result came out for a subject, to my surprise, I was counting how many people got better marks than me, and I was very sad that I didn't get the highest marks. This is not at all the old me! All I cared before, was how I learnt the subject, if I am able to apply it, and if I got a descent marks in exam.

This kind of new and extra insecurity and tension is causing health problem in me as well. I don't want to go all loose and stop all efforts either, but I am suspecting that I have become a narrow person like her now.

Please provide some suggestions on how to unlearn these bad habits.


2 Answers 2


Changing of habits requires diligence and dedication to behaviors. There are some things you can do right away that can help with that, and some things you'll likely want to avoid.

Identify the behaviors you want

If you focus on the behaviors you don't want (which is what the question implies you're doing), all you'll be able to see is those behaviors, and no matter how much you try you will not be able to escape them. Simon Sinek gave a presentation on the concept that if you focus only on the negative thing to avoid, you won't be able to avoid it because that's where your focus is.

Come up with a list of behaviors that are positive actions in contrast to the negative actions you're attempting to avoid. By focusing on working towards these positive behaviors, there will be no room for the negative behaviors to remain habits.

An example: Instead of saying "Don't be controlling.", shift the focus of your change over to "Help by asking questions." These two behaviors target the same space, and they target it from different angles that make the behavior change simpler to accomplish.

Separate your list and review it regularly

Don't just keep a running list of things to change. Put them on individual pieces of paper, post-it notes, etc. My favorite is index cards. Write out the behavior you're looking to engage in. Every day, review these items individually and measure your behaviors against them. Did you treat people with respect? Did you ask questions? If you succeeded, write down what made it successful and commit to repeating it. If you failed, write down what the failure was and how to prevent it. Grade yourself every day.

Seek feedback from people who can provide trusted observation

While you'll probably be one of your harshest judges, you still need outside perspectives. Find a person or a few people you feel will be honest with you and enlist them for feedback. Don't ask them about all of your items. Pick one and let them be honest with you about it. Accept their feedback without rebuttal. It doesn't matter if you agree with it or not. You must commit to taking no offense to what they say then give it proper consideration objectively against your own notes.

Keep in mind this will take time. You already have the first good habit down. Watch and listen. Watch for people's reactions to your behaviors, listen to their feedback. Then act on it.


There is no magic skill that comes about unlearning habits. It just takes effort and recognition.

Sounds like you already recognize situations where you haven't responded as well as you would have liked.

So, before responding to somebody, just take a few seconds and think about the persona you are projecting. And if you misstep, the best thing you can do is just go to someone and apologize.

In some ways, you're lucky because you KNOW how your previous boss made you feel, so you understand the consequences of your actions.

There is no need to despair, because you are actually more malleable than you think.

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