Successfully learning new behaviors

Thomas Gelmi explains how to discard old behavioral patterns and successfully integrate new skills.

Successfully learning new behaviors

Thomas Gelmi on the successful integration of new behaviors

Over and over again, people are facing the challenge of successfully mastering conflict situations, for example. Sound conflict management provides them with certain behaviors to make interactions effective. They find it difficult, however, to integrate these into their own behavioral set and so they quickly fall back into old behavioral patterns. In order to act more consciously and thus more effectively in the future, Thomas Gelmi points to a natural learning process.

This five-step process begins with unconscious incompetence. Here people are not even aware of their incompetence in a certain area. A pleasant state. On the second stage, they become aware of the incompetence and decide to close the gap by means of coaching or additional training. At the stage of conscious competence, it is then finally possible to apply these skills, even if only with a certain amount of effort. At stage four, unconscious competence, the new skill has already become second nature. And at stage five, it is possible to reflect on past situations in which the individuals have already acted intuitively and correctly.

This process would not lead to immediate success, however, but would demand patience and a high degree of discipline. “Anchoring changes in behavior in a sustainable way works similarly to wanting to reach a new level of fitness in sports: Consistent training designed to develop existing potential means effort and can sometimes even be painful,” explains Thomas Gelmi, an expert in InterPersonal Competence.

“For new thought and behavior patterns, i.e., new habits, to form, new neuronal paths must be established in the brain. The area in our brain that is responsible for routine activities that do not require a lot of mental attention increasingly has to adopt the new behavior,” Gelmi continues. When a behavior or activity is repeated often enough, a neuronal path is formed that allows people to react automatically and unconsciously to certain situations. This would also mean less power and energy consumption.

“Research has shown that our behavior consists largely of habits and automatic, unconscious reactions to our environment. Only a small part is influenced by our conscious will. It is therefore important for sustainable change to take the step from willpower to new habits and behavioral patterns. Because the less you have to think about something, the more energy and resources you have for other things,” Gelmi concludes.

Additional information on Thomas Gelmi and contact details can be found at

Under the label “Thomas Gelmi – InterPersonal Competence,” Thomas Gelmi accompanies leaders and their teams worldwide in companies of all sizes and in a wide range of industries. They include globally operating companies such as Siemens, Roche, and Syngenta, as well as SMEs and private clients. He focuses on the development of self- and relationship competence in leadership, cooperation, and customer contact.

Movadis GmbH
Thomas Gelmi
Europaallee 41
8021 Zürich
+41 56 535 7996