As professionals, our thoughts can easily be the pebbles that start an avalanche of negativity. How we talk to ourselves can affect how we feel about ourselves. We lose confidence and become filled with self-doubt. Our self-worth is diminished.
Soon you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, believing you aren’t good enough for your job. You doubt your own abilities, which can impact your overall job performance.
Intrapersonal intelligence is key to combating imposter syndrome, more readily getting team buy-in, and demonstrating your leadership skills. By developing your own intrapersonal intelligence, you combat self-doubt and increase your professional confidence.
Intrapersonal skills help you to continually reflect and evaluate yourself, applying to both your personal and professional lives. This allows you to better regulate your own attitudes and thoughts. Basically, it’s how you interact and communicate to yourself in your own head. It is the yin to the yang of interpersonal skills.
That brings us to intrapersonal intelligence, which shares a lot in common with emotional intelligence. Both rely on self-awareness and taking inventory of your emotions. With both, you analyze what exactly are you feeling, why you are feeling it, and how it is impacting you.
Whereas emotional intelligence gives you empathy for another person’s thoughts and feelings, intrapersonal intelligence gives you a greater compassion for and understanding of your own. Intrapersonal intelligence seeks to define motivations, where you excel and where you have an opportunity to grow.
Intrapersonal intelligence allows one to understand and work with oneself. In the individual’s sense of self, one encounters a melding of interpersonal and intrapersonal components.
— Howard Gardner, Author of Multiple Intelligences
Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner came up with the concept as part of his book, Multiple Intelligences. His research questioned whether human intelligence could be measured or defined by a single factor. Thus, he worked out multiple stages, including intrapersonal intelligence.
With intrapersonal intelligence, you are completely aware of who you are and can appreciate yourself fully. You can embrace our feelings, fears and motivations without hesitation. And thus, imposter syndrome won’t weigh you down. You won’t take feedback personally. You’ll be able to apply a growth mindset. You’ll be a better leader. And you’ll more easily contribute and communicate your ideas to the team.
We all have that inner critic inside our heads that constantly pressures us to do better, which can become a nuisance if left unchecked.
For example, we all get sweaty palms when it comes to submitting our work for direct feedback. It’s hard to open ourselves to critique. We can easily begin talking our work down in our heads. Those thoughts soon become words as we warn peers, “It’s not as good as it can be.”
Now we’re anticipating a flood of harsh critiques. This is called catastrophizing, i.e. making things worse in our heads based on little evidence to the contrary. It’s irrational thinking.
University of Miami neuroscientist Amishi Jha studies how wandering thoughts diminishes our ability to focus. She suggests in this video that “paying attention to our attention” can stop our minds from veering into dangerous territory.
Here are some further tips on combating negative self-talk:
Taking care of ourselves is as important as taking care of others. We can’t be of any help to people around us if we don’t prioritize ourselves. If our health suffers or we don’t get enough sleep, we won’t be effective as team members or leaders.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs practice self-care on a regular basis. Bill Gates takes an entire week to himself so he can reflect. He calls this his “Think Week.” Richard Branson and Mark Cuban advocate exercising daily. Ariana Huffington meditates each morning. Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani blocks off “me time” on her schedule. Sheryl Sandberg writes down three things she accomplished before going to bed.
Self-care doesn’t have to be lavish spa days or extravagant vacations. It can be small things practiced daily. Here’s a few daily tips:
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.
— Steve Jobs, cofounder and former CEO of Apple
In that quote, Steve Jobs is talking about mindfulness and effective multitasking. Jobs knew that you can’t take on everything and do it well. He put this into practice when he shrunk Apple’s products from 350 to 10. So instead of 350 potentially shoddy products, the Apple team could work on creating 10 amazing ones. This newfound focus allowed Jobs to push the team’s innovation since it wasn’t stretched thin on projects that didn’t create impact.
You have to find focus on the things that matter most. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. Taking one task at a time and delegating other tasks assists in combating catastrophizing and negative self-talk as well. However, it is possible to juggle multiple tasks at the same time.
Let’s take a look at some tips for effective multitasking:
Strong interpersonal skills and communication assist in raising our intrapersonal intelligence, allowing us to better articulate our needs and wants. These skills don’t develop overnight, and require a lot of introspection on our part.
In order to articulate your needs and relate to others, you have to be keenly aware of yourself and how others perceive you. This is where seeking outside feedback from peers can be handy.
Here are some key questions you might ask your peers:
Just the words "yet" or "not yet," we're finding, give kids greater confidence, give them a path into the future that creates greater persistence.
— Carol Dweck, Professor at Stanford University
All of these habits allow for this last one: embracing a growth mindset. In order to negate harmful self-talk and improve our intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, you have to believe that we can learn and grow.
This is what psychologist and Stanford professor Carol Dweck calls “the power of yet.” It’s the concept that failure isn’t an ending but rather a “not yet.” This allows us to believe more readily that we can achieve things with resilience and tenacity. It gives us a path to the future, as she says.
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