I have a friend who is suffering with pancreatic cancer. I’ve stayed in touch with him as he goes through the chemo treatments. He tells me that a lot of his friends have been very supportive as he faces this terrible disease. He is very appreciative of all this support. He gets this support because he himself is a supportive person. He has a strong network of relationships. Strong relationships are helpful during tough times. They also are an important key to creating the career success you deserve.
You need to be interpersonally competent to build strong relationships. Researchers at the Department of Psychology at UCLA suggest that there are five dimensions of interpersonal competence…
- Initiating relationships.
- Providing emotional support.
- Asserting displeasure with others’ actions.
- Managing interpersonal conflicts.
The first three – initiating relationships, self-disclosure and providing emotional support — are ways to build and nurture relationships. The last two – asserting displeasure with others’ actions, and managing interpersonal conflicts — are ways to resolve conflict in a positive manner. All five of these dimensions are dependent on being self-aware.
Self-awareness is the foundation of interpersonal competence and in building positive relationships and in resolving conflict in a positive manner. Self-aware people understand how they are similar to, and different from other people.
They use this insight to help them do things like initiate relationships with a variety of people; determine how much they should disclose about themselves at various points in a relationship; and determine the appropriate amount of emotional support they should offer others. Self-aware people also use their knowledge of themselves and others to determine when and how to assert their displeasure with another person’s actions, and to manage and resolve interpersonal conflicts.
If you understand yourself, you can better understand others. I’ll use myself as an example. I prefer to think things through before I make my position on an issue known. There are several people I know who “think out loud,” meaning that they reach a position on an issue by talking about it. When I am with one of these people, I join them in thinking out loud. I know that if I don’t, decisions are likely to get made while I am thinking through my position silently.
Here’s another example. I make intuitive leaps. My mind goes from A to B to F. A lot of people I know process information sequentially. Their minds go from A to B to C to D to E to F. When I am with these people, I don’t blurt out my intuitive leaps. When I have one, I go back and fill in the B to C to D to E before I come out with F. In this way, I am better able to get my point across to my sequentially thinking colleagues and clients.
One more: I am happy to leave my options open, and to change my mind somewhat late in the game. I know a lot of people who don’t feel comfortable with this. They have strong needs for closure. Once a decision is made, they want it to stay made. When I’m dealing with these types of people, I ask myself if the change I am proposing will make a real difference. If not, I don’t propose it. If I think it is necessary, I bring it up. However, when I do, I am very clear that I am revisiting a decision that has already been made, that this might be frustrating to other people, but that I think it is necessary to rethink the decision – and then I give very specific reasons for wanting to revisit the decision and how such a conversation can yield better results.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people build strong relationships with the important people in their lives. They follow the career advice in Tweet 126 in my career advice book, Success Tweets. “Self-awareness is the first step in building relationships and resolving conflict.” You can build solid relationships by taking the initiative, sharing information about yourself, being emotionally supportive, and sharing your feelings about behavior to which you have a negative reaction in order to resolve conflict positively. However, relationship building begins with self-awareness. Understanding yourself and how you are similar to, or different from others, is great career advice and the foundation of all relationship building.
That’s my thinking on the importance of self-awareness. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. As always, thanks for taking the time to read my daily musings on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you check out my career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained. The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less. The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.
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