By Bill Cottringer
A popular catch phrase today is "check your ego at the door."
Actually you really don't want to do that. Sometimes the only thing you have that holds you all together is your ego. What you do want to leave behind though, are the more subtle negative behaviors of your ego, that interfere with good interpersonal relations-especially effective communication. These are the things that keep you from going from good to great in learning how to be successful.
Personal growth is a process of finding out what good habits to cultivate and what bad ones to eliminate. Knowing what bad habits to get rid of is only the beginning. You have to figure out how to do this. Fortunately the mechanism is already in place. If you are motivated to learn and grow, you will gradually become more aware of your bad habits, as they happen. The more you witness these things happening, the more uncomfortable you become and the more you will think about why you don't really want to do these things. You eventually learn to replace them with something more positive.
There are seven positive behaviors of your ego that you want to cultivate and there are seven counter-parts you want to eliminate. These things all work together and the end result is the Golden Rule in action.
REVERENCE VS. RUDENESS
The truth of the matter is that we are all guests on this planet and we have an obligation to respect everything-especially our fellow human beings. Research reveals that the majority of people say politeness helps produce a perception of likability, which paves the way for positive influence. Unfortunately, national research reveals that politeness is on the decline. What a paradox.
The lesson is, if you want to be noticed and have a positive influence on others, be reverent and polite. On the other hand, rudeness is at the top of the list of what influences a perception of unlikability, which results in unfavorable outcomes with people. The choice should be easy.
EQUALITY VS. SUPERIORITY
We are all born equal, but somewhere along the line we get the notion that our achievements somehow make us superior. If you have worked hard to be successful you have a right to feel superior. But this feeling is something you have to keep to yourself, because other people aren't really interested in your achievements-especially if theirs are on the light side and they are feeling inferior.
When you make a concerted effort to communicate equality with others, they are more likely to listen to you; when the subtle hints of your superiority leak out in your talk and actions, people's ears turn elsewhere. Cultivate equality and eliminate superiority.
FREEDOM VS. CONTROL
We humans all have a common characteristic: We are natural rebels about being controlled. That is a condition we will fight against with our last breath. Hence any talk or behavior that insinuates forceful control will always be met with rebellion. One powerful ego is never quite adequate enough to dominate even the weakest one.
If you are in a position of being in control, this becomes somewhat tricky. You have to look for other ways to influence people in the direction you want them to move, other than by using the authority you have been given. And if you are in the undesirable position of having to impose a negative sanction, you may have to get creative and give a few options that allow for some perceived freedom.
ACCEPTANCE VS. JUDGEMENT
Most of us are already our own worst critics and the last thing we need is someone else piling on the bad news with more judgments against us. When we perceive that we are being judged negatively, it makes us feel misunderstood and even inferior. These sorts of feelings tend to make us retreat into a defensive posture-with a mixture of hurt and anger-where
communication normally shuts down.
Another reason to try and eliminate your habit of judging others is that your judgments aren't always correct and they often turn out to be pre-mature once you get all the facts. Suspending your judgment and taking the time to find out exactly why somebody is doing something that might not meet with your approval can be enlightening.
TENTATIVENESS VS. CERTAINTY
What do any us really know with 100% certainty? Maybe a few useless details and a few useful principles. Most of life is tentative and evolving. Although some of us seem to want the certainty that provides security, we know that it is only temporary. Sometimes the brain deceives us by its drive to simplify. Critical thinking teaches us that things are rarely a clear yes or no, at least not without some qualifications
The only thing certain today is change and anyone who professes differently will be met with skepticism and even rejection. In the interest of learning and growing, you should be concerned about disproving your questionable beliefs, rather than gathering supportive evidence to perpetuate the artificial certainty of false ones.
INCLUSION VS. EXCLUSION
A strong human need is to be included. When someone else excludes us or rejects even part of our ideas, it doesn't make us feel good. Someone once said to me, "dismiss only that which offends your soul." You can go from good to great by looking for ways to include everything and anything that doesn't offend your soul.
Everyone has a piece of the puzzle to contribute, and we can all benefit greatly by looking for ways to include what others think and feel. An attitude of inclusion incorporates many of these other positive ego behaviors and can be a very powerful influence with others. At the very least you will be increasing useful knowledge.
EMPATHY VS. INSENSITIVITY
The more you do these other six behaviors, the more your power of empathy grows. Empathy allows you to understand other people's thoughts, feelings and perspectives and when you begin to communicate that understanding, you are making a friend for life. Such friendships encourage continued growth and lead to success.
By practicing these positive halves of your ego and eliminating their negative counter-parts, you will increase your positive influence with others and be more successful.
About the AuthorWilliam Cottringer is a Success Coach, College Teacher and Writer from Collinsville, IL. He is also author of You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too.