Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in several of my books. If you want to become interpersonally competent you need to do three things. First, get to know yourself. Use this self knowledge to better understand and communicate with others. Second, build solid, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the people in your life. Third, resolve conflict in a creative manner and with little upset to your relationships.
The other day I came across a prayer attributed to Cary Grant. I've edited it for brevity, but the important ideas are still there..."Release me from trying to straighten out everyone's affairs. Make me thoughtful, but not moody, helpful but not overbearing. Take a look...
"Lord, keep me from the habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Keep my tongue free from the recital of endless details."
"Seal my lips on my aches and pains. I ask for grace enough to listen to the retelling of others' afflictions and to be helped to endure them with patience."
"Release me from trying to straighten out everyone's affairs. Make me thoughtful, but not moody, helpful but not overbearing."
"Give me improved memory with growing humility and an ability to capitulate when my memory clashes with the memory of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that on some occasions, I may be mistaken."
"Keep me reasonably kind. An embittered person is a constant burden."
"Please give me the ability to see good in unlikely places and talents in unexpected people. And give me the grace to tell them so."
That is some prayer - and the embodiment of interpersonal competence. Cary Grant asked for the gifts of: silence and listening; the ability to empathize with others' afflictions without going into detail about his; the tendency to give unwanted and unasked for advice; the willingness to admit is mistakes; kindness; and the ability to see the good in others - and to tell them so.
I have printed this prayer and have hung it in my office. I aspire to all of the characteristics for which Cary Grant prayed. I hope that God will give me these gifts too. Because if He does, I know I will become an interpersonally competent person.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are interpersonally competent. Interpersonally competent people - listen to and empathize with others; avoid giving unwanted and unsolicited advice; admit their mistakes; are kind; see the good in others and tell them so. This is a pretty high standard to set for yourself. But as I pointed out in another article, it's best to set high goals. So do yourself a favor and set the goal of living up to these ideals. The people in your life will thank you, and you'll be well on your way to becoming a truly interpersonally competent person...