For a long time I thought that being good at connecting with others meant that I would need to give up myself and fit in.
But quite the opposite is actually true.
Start with yourself
This post is inspired by an answer I got from John Maxwell on a recent coaching call at his “Maximum Impact Mentoring“.
According to John connecting to others really starts with ourselves. There are two things we need: We need to understand who we are and be comfortable with who we are.
Understand who you are
If we don’t know who we are and what we want, it is very difficult for other people to get us. It is hard for them to relate to us. There are great & simple ways to start this process of self-discovery. I recommend taking two assessments:
The Kolbe Index shows where your conative strengths are. It shows you where you should focus your energy and what you should better delegate to somebody else.
The Enneagramm is a very old personality assessment. It is helpful to see where your areas of growth are in your personality.
Of course, these tests are only a starting point to a continuous process of self-discovery, but I find them to be incredibly accurate.
Become comfortable with who you are
You absolutely have to know who you are to really connect with people. This also means to look at things that you might not want to look at. If you hide things about yourself from yourself, it can be something that really holds you back.
We are all humans. We all have the sides that we wish were different. However, we add our values with our unique strengths not with our weaknesses. To really play out our strengths we also need to embrace our weaknesses. Because we can only be at your best, when we are truly ourselves. People want to see a real person, not a fake.
So if there are things that we really dislike, a very helpful practice is self-compassion. The counter-intuitive thing is that self-criticism does not encourage us to deal with our issues. Speaking to ourselves in a voice of self-compassion, however, helps us to deal with our weaknesses and shortcomings much better. There are several great exercises at Kristin Neff’s page. You can also test how self-compassionate you are and retake the test later to see how much progress you have made. There is also a very practical book by Chris Germer. It is called “The mindful path to self-compassion“.
The bottom line is: No matter where you are, you can make progress on your self-image. It is necessary if you want to connect well to others.
Now about becoming comfortable with others…
Once you know who you are, once you are comfortable with who you are, you can really show yourself to others. And they can relate. And it either works together or it does not.
Remember: You do not work together with everybody. There are millions and millions of people on the planet. Find the right kind for you.
It becomes so much easier when you give others a chance to see the real you. It still needs perseverance. We will have highs and we will have lows in that process.
The only thing we need to do is to keep walking the next small step. And this we can do.
When it comes to connecting with others what is the single biggest challenge you wish you had a magic wand for? Let me know in the comments.