Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success. If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things. 1) Become self aware. Use this self awareness to better understand and communicate with others. 2) Build solid, long term, mutually beneficial relationships with the people in your life. 3) Resolve conflict positively – in a manner that enhances, not detracts from, your relationships.
Interpersonally competent people realize that with relationships comes responsibility. Like it or not, you are seen as a representative of the groups with which you are associated. The better you represent these groups, the more likely you are to build strong relationships with the people in them.
I am a member of the Creating WE Institute – an international group that has come together to create new forms of engagement and innovation in the workplace. As such, I am a representative of the Creating WE Institute. On Wednesday, I mentioned that I have a new book coming out: 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success. I am also contributing three chapters to a collaborative book project called 42 Rules for Creating WE.
In this post, I will give you a sneak peek at one of the chapters I’m contributing to 42 Rules for Creating WE. It’s called: Act In a Manner That Honors Yourself and Your Associates. Take a look, and let me know what you think…
This rule was originally entitled “Never do anything to embarrass yourself or your associates.” Nancy Ring, a colleague at the Creating WE Institute pointed out that as it was originally stated, this rule was negative; it told you what not to do. Nancy suggested that I change it to a positive statement that tells you what you should do to be a responsible member of an organization or community.
Nancy is right. It’s much better to provide others with positive, affirmative actions they can use as guides for their behavior rather than with negative actions to avoid. Thanks to Nancy for this bonus advice.
WE-centric thinking holds that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. This being the case, your actions reflect not only on you personally, they are a reflection of the various groups with which you are associated. When I was in junior high school I was caught shoplifting an item that cost less than a dollar from a local discount store. I did it on a dare. My parents were very upset with me. They raised me not to lie, cheat and steal. By this little shoplifting escapade I dishonored our family. It didn’t matter that it was on a childhood dare or that “everyone else was doing it.” What mattered was that my actions had implications that went beyond me and reflected negatively on my family.
This is the essence of this rule. You represent all of the groups with whom you are associated. You represent your family, your school, your company and any number of groups with which you are affiliated. Your behavior, positive and negative, reflects on these groups and their members as much as it does you. Act honorably, and people will associate honor with the groups with which you are associated. Act dishonorably and people will form negative opinions of these groups.
I felt honored when I was asked to contribute a few rules to this book. As a member of the Creating WE Institute, I know that my writing reflects on all of my co-authors in this book as well as every member of the institute. I feel a little extra responsibility to do the best job I can because of my responsibility to represent my friends and colleagues well. I want them to be proud of this book and those of us who contributed to it.
Sometimes things work out the other way. Several years ago the city of New York honored a group of policemen and firemen for acts of valor. After the ceremony, a few policeman and fireman over indulged a bit. What began as good natured bantering and taunting between New York’s Finest (the police) and New York’s Bravest (the firefighters) turned into a fist fight in front of a restaurant and bar that bordered one of the city’s more popular parks. The incident was widely reported in the local papers and TV newscasts. Even though less than 20 cops and firemen were involved, none of whom were the honorees, both the Police Department and Fire Department suffered a big black eye. This negative public perception lingered until the bravery members of both departments displayed on 9/11.
The common sense point here is clear. Successful people are interpersonally competent. Interpersonally competent people build strong relationships with the people in their lives. A WE centric approach to life will help you build strong relationships. If you want to behave in a WE-centric manner, you need to accept the fact that your actions are a reflection on you and all of the people and organizations with which you are associated. Act in a manner that will reflect well on you and the others in your life.
That’s my take on realizing that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. As always, thanks for reading.