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Firing on All Cylinders - Cylinder #3: Acceptance of Self and Others

In the spring issue of Firing on All Cylinders, you read about creating purpose in your firm, which is the second of four cylinders that are essential to long-term success. This issue’s topic addresses how to accept yourself and others. CPAs and lawyers are a self-critical bunch. You worry that you’re not valuable enough to charge the rates that you charge. You are afraid you will make a mistake. You worry that you won’t know the answer to a question. You worry about what your partners think of you. Often, you judge your employees and partners as harshly and incessantly as you judge yourselves.

By accepting yourself, by letting go of your insecurities, you show up as the real you, not some made-up version that somebody said you had to be. That’s called authenticity. If you find that you feel the need to “act differently” when you go to work, you’re not being authentic. That’s certainly phony and probably exhausting.

The best business developers, best recruiters, and best client service professionals I know are those who are comfortable in their own skin. They accept themselves and therefore, more easily accept others. Take a look around your firm and see if you agree.

How to Accept Yourself and Others

  1. Lighten up. Relax and breathe. Smile and laugh more. If you can give yourself a break, you are more likely to give your partners and co-workers a break.
  2. Decide how you want to conduct yourself in every interaction. Don’t be a victim of somebody else’s misbehavior.
  3. Know that you have an effect on people and accept responsibility for the emotional wake you create. Do people feel better or worse after talking with you?
  4. Practice civility in every interaction. You will be proud of yourself and you will bring out the best in others. A few examples of office civility:
    Look up from your keyboard when someone comes into your office or stands in your doorway.
    Greet people when you see them and use their name.
    Unless there is a very compelling reason, put your phone on "do not disturb" when you are talking with someone in your office.
    Don’t permit anyone – even your partners -- to interrupt your conversation with someone else.
  5. Remember how things were for you when you were young and inexperienced.
  6. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Learn to listen before you criticize.
  7. Pay attention every moment you’re in contact with another person. Don’t go on automatic pilot. When you pay full attention to the other person, you cancel out a lot of the extraneous noise in your mind and you can focus on the issue at hand.
  8. Use every opportunity to reach out, help, and be of service to your partners and team members. End as many conversations as you can with “How can I help?”
  9. Be your best self (most civilized, most courteous, most kind self) every possible moment, and that enables you to leave your insecurities behind, because you know you’re doing the right thing.

© Melinda Guillemette 2009