We search the pages of books to find ways to improve ourselves, challenging our ideas of who we are and what we are capable of. We try to develop who we are in order that we might experience more in life and the present moment. We sit in that headspace, internalising these new concepts, reconsidering who we have been, and who we want to be.
All too often, we live our life for others. We believe that if we can only be of service to people, maybe that will provide us with purpose and value. Self-development provides us the unique chance to work on ourselves, simultaneously improving our positive influence in the lives of others. Within this, we usually remember those closest to us: we want to be better people for our families, close friends, partners, colleagues. But we’re forgetting something.
Our interpersonal skills improve the most when we practise them, like a sport. Day-to-day interpersonal interactions don’t necessarily involve a wide range of people for us to interact with. Unless we work in service jobs, we might rarely encounter new people. When we eventually do encounter new people, we’re likely to have higher expectations of our communications with them, perhaps even be more judgemental of them. For the most part, we’re unaware of our thoughts- these instinctive reactions firing in our brains, based upon past experiences and preconceived ideas. In the workplace it’s commonly referred to as unconscious bias.
Despite what our workplaces might like to believe, there is no one-hour training programme which can rid us of unconscious bias. We grow up internalising the concepts around us, beliefs of our families and social circles. We might even believe that this bias is a good thing, allowing us to communicate with those who share the same values as we do- not allowing us to stray too far from the path. But bias holds us back. There is rarely a benefit to limiting our network, or minimising our possibilities for communication.
People change one another, and challenging interactions benefit us by providing us a chance to open our minds, consider new viewpoints, and to be free of the need to change the minds of others.
The moment that you start to recognise that everyone is worth a chance is the moment that you open up your networking, and social, opportunities beyond anything you could have considered.
Featured image: Dylan Gillis via Unsplash.