Antibodies of interpersonal development
Let me preface this by saying that I’m no scientist.
I do, however, enjoy using metaphors. :)
So, let’s talk antibodies.
Also called immunoglobulins, antibodies are little Y-shaped proteins that recognize foreign objects in the body. They are the key element in the adaptive immune system, and, for the most part, fight germs. Sometimes though, they target the body’s healthy cells instead.
To get to my thought of the day — let’s consider the antibodies of interpersonal development. More specifically — their symptoms, and how our acceptance of those symptoms can be beneficial.
Just like you may experience the chills, a fever, sore throat, stuffy nose, etc. when fighting illness, think of the common, unpleasant symptoms you experience when meeting someone for the first time…
Rewind to the first time (or few times) you met someone who moved you, inspired you, impressed you — any/all the above — before you even met them.
Speaking too quickly.
Speaking too much.
Now consider this: just as your immune system naturally goes into overdrive to kill off a virus, perhaps we ALSO experience a similar phenomenon when it comes to interpersonal development. From this perspective, one could acknowledge that these temporary symptoms are not only inevitable, but necessary.
All that being said, here is where I find this metaphor particularly relevant —
Through the AWARENESS of our seemingly over-active, dramatic, and embarrassing tendencies, (or our awareness of these natural tendencies in OTHERS), we have the ability to better navigate these interactions.
Well, so long as we CARE, so long as these budding relationships are met with a MUTUAL acknowledgment of positive potential influence… we are better fit:
- To meet people where they are.
- To have patience during initial interaction.
- To guide others towards constructive collaboration (versus premature judgment).
In other words, maybe this awareness affords us the ability to better accept the messiness of new relationships.
To not make a big deal about it, but instead see through this fleeting time and keep attention on the content of the interaction itself, versus the self-conscious observation of it.
What correcting this in real time might look like:
For the individual in the relationship who experiences “symptoms” to a stronger degree — it’s striving to ground yourself in the content of whatever message you are sending. (Aka, If you’re telling a story, TELL THE STORY!) It also means avoiding the inclination to criticize yourself on the WAY you’re delivering your story.
For the individual who DOESN’T experience symptoms (or does, but to a lesser degree) — it’s helping guide the other individual to deliver their content. It’s providing a framework for this relational partner to FOCUS their disclosure — i.e. “Tell me more about [specific thing].”
By doing this, you provide others with the opportunity to channel more energy on sharing with you what it is that they wish to share, versus wasting time and energy on their own insecurity.
Bottom line — for individuals experiencing growing pains in interpersonal development, do yourselves a favor and GRACE EACH OTHER with patience and time.
You might find that in embracing the symptoms of interpersonal development antibodies, you’ll be able to collectively ride through them much faster than if you were to fight them.
And ultimately, wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out on the powerful collaboration that could be, simply because you didn’t allow time to move past the discomfort of early interaction?
Taken a step further — who’s to say that this couldn’t apply to well-established relationships that after YEARS, are evolving in a new way?
Of course, not everyone is for everyone. But, we DO all share fundamental human needs.
Will you give yourself and someone else a chance this week?