How do you begin to develop a (more) positive attitude about both yourself and your interpersonal relations?
First it’s important to remember that nearly all of you reading this probably have negative beliefs.
I realized this when I was doing assertiveness courses and then management courses and then executive coaching with director level staff. Most of us suffer from negative beliefs at some level.
Before going on, I want to tell you about me. I was at a very low point in my career and I went to be assessed by another consultancy. Predictably they didn’t take me on but the feedback I got was ‘you are very good but you take a long time to warm up’ then out of now where I found myself saying to this guy ‘will you be my mentor?’ He agreed and one of the things he realized about me what that I had a very negative outlook and he went onto outline the technique in the book for changing negative beliefs. Before that I had no idea that other people thought more positively than I did. Since then I have used his changing negative beliefs technique to become more positive.
But after working with thousands of clients I also realized that it is not just about changing negative beliefs you have to work on your skill set too. I expect that all of you are familiar with talent shows like X factor and American Idol. In the early stages of the auditions there are people who believe that they can sing but can’t. Then there are people who can sing but believe they can’t. The best way to achieve lasting success is to have positive beliefs backed up by positive skills. When you start to gain skills success breeds success and you end up on an upward positive spiral rather than a downward negative spiral.
So if I were coaching you the first thing I would work on is your belief system that things can change and that you can get different outcomes in your interactions with others.
I can do this because I have seen so many people change and I know that my approach which is step by step allows people to always remain in control of the process and is gradual so that you never do more than you are comfortable with. I will also explain the Continuum of interpersonal skills model to them to show them where we will be going. In other words I build their confidence to trust that I will take them on a safe and successful journey.
I would also make them realize that beliefs are arbitrary and do not really exist – we are not born with beliefs. They just develop over time depending on where we decide to focus our attention. We start off with an inkling of a belief that is then reinforced over time. If you don’t believe me that beliefs are arbitrary think of supporters of a football team. If you put one supporter of a team in a room with lots of facts and figures and asked them to convince a supporter of another team that there team is better, do you think this would work?
No it would not work, because once people make the decision to support a particular team all the other information they hear – good or bad – only reinforces their belief. This process happens with our beliefs about ourselves and how we interact with others too. So if you want to get better at interpersonal skills you first have to make some different decisions about yourself and your ability to achieve different and more successful outcomes with others. You have to open yourself up to the possibility that you can achieve some different outcomes, then plan your approach and be prepared to step out of your comfort zone to try some different approaches and behaviours.
So to come back to the question where would you start? I would first like you to realize that if you have negative beliefs about yourself or others that this is not inevitable and it can be changed. Once you believe that you can get different and better outcomes using a systematic approach you will start to achieve them. You will also begin to take a few more risks and once you get some more successes you will want to achieve more so that success will build on your successes and become a self reinforcing upward cycle.
For more information on the continuum of interpersonal skills, assertiveness, influencing, negotiation, conciliation, taking a stand and making peace in a step-by-step manner please refer to the People Skills Revolution and the People Skills Revolution Handbook published by Global Professional Publishing.
Please note: The information contained in this blog is copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the prior permission of the author who can be contacted through her website at solutionsunlimited.co.uk.