I’m OK, You’re OK, We’re All OK; Act Like It

Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to understand yourself so you can better understand others; build and nurture mutually beneficial long term relationships with the important people in your life; and resolve conflict in a positive manner.

The other day I came across an interesting book.  Moral Clarity by Susan Neiman struck an interpersonal competence chord with me.  Ms. Neiman suggests that we all would be better off by adopting an attitude comprised of four virtues: happiness, reason, reverence and hope. 

She suggests that we should cherish happiness, respect reason, revere dignity and hope for a better future.  She sees “the glorification of victims as heroes” as a “denial of human freedom and dignity, a denial of happiness and barrier against hope.”  This book is not a light and quick read, but it provides some food for thought about interpersonal competence. 

In particular, I like what she has to say about revering human dignity.  Interpersonally competent people revere the dignity of every human being.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you must treat every person you encounter with the respect and dignity they deserve – just because he or she is a fellow human being.

In 1968, Jackie DeShannon released the pop song, Put a Little Love in Your Heart.  One of the lines went, “Take a good look around, and if you’re looking down, put a little love in your heart.”  I think this line captures the essence of respecting the dignity of every human being. 

If you want to become interpersonally competent, approach the people you meet as equals with goodwill in your heart.  Look for the best in others, and in most cases, you will find it. 

Remember the bestselling book I’m OK, You’re OK?  Maybe not, it was published almost 40 years ago.  If you’re not familiar with this book, Thomas Harris, the author suggests that people typically take one of four life stances:

  1. I’m Not OK, You’re OK
  2. I’m not OK, You’re Not OK
  3. I’m OK, You’re Not OK
  4. I’m OK, You’re OK

Interpersonally competent people come from the “I’m OK, You’re OK” life stance.  They value the dignity of all people: their own as well as others.   If you act this way, you’ll find that it will be easy to build and nurture strong relationships with the important people in your life.

The common sense point here is simple.  Interpersonal competence is a key to career and life success.  Interpersonally competent people honor the human dignity of every person they meet.  The come from an “I’m OK, You’re OK” perspective.  They feel good about themselves and help others feel good about themselves.

That’s my take on interpersonal competence and human dignity.  What’s yours?  Please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you think.  I value and appreciate your comments.  Thanks for reading.


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