One of the best and most radical things you can do for yourself and your business may be to just sit down and talk to yourself.
We live in a world where information comes at us from every direction. Bombarded with both verbal and nonverbal interpersonal communication, we fill our workday with important emails, phone calls, team meetings and the like. We exist in a “go go go” world, tackling one task after another while participating in the shared conversations of our businesses – learning, teaching and growing with every message. It’s easy to fall into a robotic state; spitting out answers and words, sometimes without really absorbing the interaction, simply because we have become accustomed to this exchange. We are used to receiving information from others, as well as speaking and sharing our own, but how often do we take the time to listen to what we have to say? In order to successfully communicate with others we must be able to communicate with ourselves.
Collaboration is important and invaluable in business. Each person in the room has the ability to bring a different strength to the table, leading to a diverse pool of knowledge. However, each person must understand their own strengths and opinions, or this pool runs the risk of remaining homogenous. This is why it is important to take the time for intrapersonal communication, or in layman's terms, communicating with yourself. Here are three exercises that can help you better communicate with yourself and, in turn, become a better asset to your team.
Take Time to Prepare
I have made a habit of taking 10 minutes before my workday begins to communicate with myself by assessing my mental state. Am I alert? Am I dreading opening my inbox or am I ready to jump into the gauntlet? Understanding your state of mind is crucial to building your best daily game plan because it allows you to understand your current abilities. On the days that I recognize I am feeling run down ,I know to focus early on projects that guarantee a quick win. Whether it be emailing my team to let them know we have made positive progress on something, or jumping into a task that I know will allow me to use my strengths, I can use this boost to get myself in a better frame of mind for the rest of the day. Likewise, when I recognize mornings that I am energized, I am able to take advantage and tackle challenging tasks first. Your business will benefit from your better understanding of yourself, because you will be able to prioritize and direct your workflow to allow for better daily success.
Write it Out
Sometimes, when a situation arises, our first instinct is to jump in head first. However, if you take the time to talk yourself through the situation before attacking it, you are able to form more well-rounded ideas and allow yourself to see solutions you may have missed otherwise. When you are met with a problem, take a moment to write out any thoughts you have regarding the issue. Include ideas around possible solutions, goals that need to be met and opinions on what may have caused the problem. This stream of consciousness writing will allow you to create a visual map of information related to the problem, and will allow you to come to the table with a better understanding of the situation.
Assess Your Strengths
People are not stagnant. We grow and change every day, and our strengths grow with us. A popular tool in schools and businesses is the CliftonStrengths program, also known as StrengthsQuest. This is an assessment that will help determine an individual’s top personal skills.
When I first took the assessment several years ago I learned that my number one strength was “Context”, meaning I look back in order to understand the present. I began applying this to my work life and was diligent in looking to previous, similar problems and the success of their solutions. I retook the assessment last month expecting the same results and, much to my surprise, Context was no longer my top strength. In fact, it had become a trait labeled “Futuristic”, almost the exact opposite of Context. I was becoming someone whose greatest strength was envisioning the next step and ensuring day-to-day tasks were in-line with future goals. Had I been paying attention to my growth, I may have been able to use this to perform at a higher quality than I was. Take time at the end of your day to assess your strongest traits and what you did well. This intrapersonal communication will allow you to have a clearer idea of yourself and how you can better contribute to your business.
Intrapersonal communication comes in many different forms. It can be talking to yourself on the way home just to vent about your day, or jotting down notes about the things you learned from a particular project to help you be even better the next go round. There is no right or wrong way to communicate with and understand yourself as a person, but if you forget to listen to what you have to say you will be missing out on your strongest asset, yourself.