We’ve all heard about interpersonal skills – no doubt any (and all) of the last leadership development activities you’ve done have had these as a focus (you know, communication, active listening, teamwork, negotiation etc. etc.). While interpersonal skills are about the relationships or communication between people, intrapersonal skills are about your relationship and dialogue that you have with yourself – and developing this is critical for your success as a leader.
Think about business leaders that you look up to or admire – do they tend to have a certain “air” about them? Perhaps they have a calming influence about them, or maybe you feel like they are genuinely present when they are talking to you. It’s highly likely they have well-developed intrapersonal skills.
The hallmark of intrapersonal skills is about self-awareness and personal reflection. People with strong intrapersonal skills take personal responsibility for their own feelings and emotions. In day-to-day life, this means being able to better regulate emotions in order to respond intentionally (rather than react impulsively).
If you’re the type of person who engages regularly in self-reflection or practices mindfulness, then you’ve already begun developing your intrapersonal skills, but if you’re after some helpful tips to start consciously developing these skills, then read on for our top 3 ways to get started…
One of the simplest ways to develop intrapersonal skills is to be willing to be inquisitive and ask yourself some poignant questions. This can either be done retrospectively or in preparation for a certain situation. Some of the following prompts might get you started:
Perhaps it’s mediation and breathing exercises, doing crosswords or sudoku, or spending time journaling; find time to be intentionally mindful. Building on your mindfulness muscle can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and in turn be better able to self-regulate these in times of stress. Additionally, mindfulness may increase your ability to find new ways to approach challenges or solve problems.
You can become more in tune with your emotional self if you increase compassion for others. Compassion helps you to consider other perspectives and life experiences which can help provide insights on why they might act in a certain way.
Having compassion for others can also build other self-awareness skills, including learning from your own mistakes.
Much as the saying goes “put your own oxygen mask on first”, so the same applies to leadership, posing the question “can you really lead others if you can’t lead yourself”. If you’re looking to introduce a little more calm (let’s be honest… who isn’t), turn your focus to developing your intrapersonal skills.