The first article in this series focused on some of our most basic needs; hydration levels, nutrition, exercise, rest, and meditation. Increasing our depth and breadth of knowledge was the focus of the second article. Part 3 explores the importance of interpersonal relationships and how we communicate with ourselves and with one another.
Interpersonal relationships are how we get things done. The phrase, “no man is an island” is just as true today as it was yesterday and will continue to be relevant throughout our future. I cannot do everything by myself so I must keep healthy interpersonal relationships in order to be effective and efficient.
How do I maintain healthy interpersonal relationships? I start with my internal dialog and extend to my external dialog. The quality of my internal and external dialog directly drives my ability to create cohesive and efficient teams regardless of whether they are family, friends, or coworkers.
What does your internal dialog sound like and does it motivate you to become a person that you admire? Some individuals flourish with internal dialog that focuses on constructive criticism. Others need internal dialog that sounds like a cheerleader or champion. Each person has to foster internal dialog that propels him/her forward. Negativity is a Catch-22 situation where your internal dialog may hold you back (e.g., I’m a failure) from trying to succeed in life (e.g., no promotion) which feeds back to a destructive internal dialog. Do not hesitate to contact a counselor, psychologist, or other health professional if you feel your internal dialog is destructive and beyond your ability to adjust.
Modifying your internal dialog starts with monitoring your thoughts. A few years ago, I realized my internal dialog was holding me back from taking calculated risks. Now, I ask myself why, how, when, where, and/or who each time I catch myself with a negative thought. I also correct myself whenever I use always, never, and forever. As an example:
Negative Me: “I can’t catch a break! I always get passed over for the new projects!”
Positive Me: “You aren’t always passed over for projects. You were Project Lead for one in May and it was a great success. What skill set did leadership need for the new project? Maybe you should expand your skill set.”
It does not always work but it begins the slow process of change.
I am not very chatty at work which means I am not building a robust, diverse network of colleagues. In fact, I am the colleague that will forget to ask about your weekend and open a conversation with, “You wouldn’t happen to have the new report completed, would you?” Ouch! It is not that I am unfriendly. I just have many thoughts running around in my head. My internal dialog is too focused on what I am passionate about. I now remind myself that each person has their own unique set of interests which prompts me to ask about their personal and professional lives.
Your external dialog is typically a direct extension of your internal dialog. When my internal dialog is proactive and positive, it is easier to communicate in a proactive and positive manner. Effectively leveraging external dialog allows you to stay current on upcoming opportunities, provide support to those important to you, and reflect back and add to the general consensus of a group.
External dialog includes body language. As a consultant, I need to project a certain level of confidence, authority, and proficiency. My job as a consultant is to lead the way to a viable solution. When I meet a client, I keep good eye contact, give a firm handshake, and take the lead when presenting information. This body language is not as appropriate when I teach at the homeless shelter. My job there is no longer to lead the way. It is to help others to build resilience, find resources, and discover that they can make a difference in their own lives. My body language mirrors this change. I smile more often, dress more casual, and try to keep a more relaxed and open posture.
How will you refine your internal and external dialog this week?