Today is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence.
My model of interpersonal competence has three factors.
1. Interpersonally competent people are self aware. They use this awareness to better understand others and to adapt their behavior accordingly.
2. Interpersonally competent people build and nurture strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.
3. Interpersonally competent people resolve conflict in a positive manner.
In 1988, 20 years ago, researchers at the Department of Psychology at UCLA suggested that there are five dimensions of interpersonal competence:
1. Initiating relationships.
3. Providing emotional support.
4. Asserting displeasure with others' actions.
5. Managing interpersonal conflicts.
Self awareness was not one of the interpersonal competence factors identified by the UCLA researchers in 1988. On the other hand, 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.
I believe that self awareness is the foundation of interpersonal competence. Self awareness is the first step 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.
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 sequential 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 point here is simple. It is important to understand how to build solid relationships by taking the initiative, sharing information about yourself and being emotionally supportive. Also, it is important to share your feelings about behavior to which you have a negative reaction in order to resolve conflict positively. However, understanding yourself and how you are similar to, or different from others, is the foundation of interpersonal competence.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense. I am not posting regularly on my www.CommonSenseGuy.com blog right now, as I want to concentrate on this one. It is still up though. Please don’t cancel your RSS feed as there is a lot of good content there, and I will be posting there occasionally.
I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open. Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.