How to Increase Your Mental Flexibility - dummies

How to Increase Your Mental Flexibility

By S. Renee Smith, Vivian Harte

Being flexible in work and relationships is a sign of a high achiever. While perfectionists are rigid and unbending in their work and how they interact with others, high achievers are more open and accommodating.

Being more flexible at work

Ralph never offered suggestions during brainstorming sessions at team meetings. He felt that his team members might not like his suggestions, and he thought they would probably make fun of him. He knew that he needed to make some changes to become less of a perfectionist.

In starting to be flexible, Ralph realized that brainstorming sessions are deliberately designed for team members to consider initial ideas, talk about their pros and cons, and decide which ideas are the best. So he began to give his input with ideas he thought would work, and he was pleasantly surprised that his teammates liked many of them.

Here are some useful ideas for increasing your flexibility at work:

  • Break your goals down into bite-sized tasks.

  • Assess whether each task makes a big difference in the entire project. Give higher priority to those tasks that have the greatest effect.

  • Make a plan to achieve each one of the tasks.

  • Create time limits for each small task and set an alarm. If a task is taking too much time, ask whether it’s a high priority. If not, put it farther down on your to-do list.

  • Take regular breaks at work to stretch and walk around. You can also do some deep breathing to help you relax.

  • Check your work thoroughly only once and then deliver it to the appropriate person.

  • Stop worrying about things that are not within your control.

  • Be open to gaining new skills, trying new tasks, and being on new teams.

  • Use affirmations to say positive things to yourself about yourself and your abilities.

  • Approach your work with confidence, enjoyment, and a desire to improve.

Being flexible in your relationships

Perfectionists are generally not very good at relationships. Just as they try their best to be flawless themselves, they expect everyone else in their lives to be flawless. This is an impossible goal and one that is very frustrating to people with perfectionist tendencies (and the people in their lives).

As you’re making changes to stop trying to be so perfect, you also need to pay attention to the way you interact with others.

Here are some suggestions for being more flexible in your relationships with people you work with and people you’re close to:

  • Have faith in your coworkers’ abilities and delegate some of your work to them, if appropriate. Exhibit trust and respect for them. If a coworker has difficulty doing a task you delegate, give her guidance instead of taking over the task yourself.

  • Have consideration for your coworkers. If they make a mistake, speak to them respectfully.

  • Deal with criticism in a positive manner. If it’s feedback based on actual knowledge, appreciate it and do something about it. If someone’s opinion is negative and not based on fact, tell him calmly and nicely that you have listened to what he had to say, have considered it, and don’t accept it, but that you respect what he thinks. Then ignore anything else he says.

  • Give your personal relationships the time and attention they deserve. Make sure you don’t sacrifice your social life for work.

  • Allow other people to be who they are without criticizing or correcting them. Learn to appreciate their individual traits.