From: Howard Jacobson <>
Subject: Unraveling the Mysteries of Human Behavior

Why do smart people self-sabotage their goals and values?

This week's podcast conversation, with Mark Faries, PhD:

Unraveling the Mysteries of Human Behavior

A key role of medical professionals whose job it is to help their patients and clients change, is to frame messages to maximize the odds of desired behaviors. Unfortunately, most medical professionals have been trained to communicate in ways that actually reduce patient self-efficacy by challenging their autonomy and undermining confidence in their competence.

On today's podcast you'll discover how to talk so patients will not only listen, but adopt positive new behaviors and maintain them in the face of ongoing temptation.

Mark Faries, PhD, thinks a lot about why people do what they do. He began his career as an athletic and fitness trainer, and assumed that he could get his clients to do the right thing by telling them clearly and accurately what to do.

And he quickly discovered that people interpret information and instructions in ways that seemed deeply confusing and often irrational. Even something as concrete as relating someone's body fat percentage to them could have vastly different effects, depending on the person.

So Mark dove into the science, studying the intersection of self-image, values, goals, motivations, and their relation to chosen behaviors. In particular, he was curious about the connection between religiosity - specifically the belief that the body is a temple and a divine gift to its inhabitant - and lifestyle decisions.

In our conversation, we explored how emotions can lead to action or inaction. Mark helped me understand the functional differences between guilt and shame, and clarified some of my sloppy thinking about "positive" and "negative" emotions.

We looked at self-conscious emotions, those that trigger an internal review process, and how the urge for self-esteem can function as we see our worth mirrored in the reactions of others.

We also looked at the "Big 5" personality model, and how to tweak health interventions for individuals based on key traits - "precision behavior," as an analog of precision medicine.

Are You a Secret Behavior Nerd?

If you find yourself geeking out on conversations like this podcast episode, where we explore and explain what makes humans tick, and how nuances of language can make the difference in someone taking action or not, or maintaining a new behavior or not - then you might love being a health coach!

If so, I invite you to check out my newest project, the Health Coaches Podcast. Co-host Kevin Davis and I deconstruct the art and science of health coaching, share demo sessions, and interview top health coaches on their practices and philosophies. You can find it wherever podcasts are consumed, and on the web at (I took us a long time to come up with that URL.)

If you'd like to become a certified WellStart Health coach, check out the next bobsled run of our coach training academy at You can watch videos, learn about the curriculum and why it's the best health coach training out there (according to me), and register for an enrollment conversation with me to see if it's a good fit.

Wishing you all the best,