Personal Development - Techniques, Theories and Opportunities

Learning doesn't and shouldn't stop after school, college or university, unless of course you have somehow decided in your mind that it does. There is no reason why learning and personal development shouldn't continue throughout your life with a little time, effort and reflection on your past experiences and behaviour. The vast quantities of excellent reading material, courses and subscriptions now available on the internet make personal development more accessible and easier than ever before. I'm going to make reference to just some of the information I have found to be extremely useful.

1. Conflict Handling Techniques

How many people find handling personal conflict easy? Not many. How many people who claim to thrive on conflict often arrive at a win-win situation for both parties with the relationship intact? Not many.

There is an extremely useful model developed by Thomas & Kilmann in 1974 which describes five fundamental conflict handling modes. All of us are capable of using all five however we tend not to. They are as follows:

  • Competing (forcing)
  • Collaborating (problem solving)
  • Compromising (sharing)
  • Avoiding (withdrawal)
  • Accommodating (smoothing)

This questionnaire will help you determine your preferred conflict handling style and provides guidelines on which styles to adopt for certain scenarios. The book The Fast Track Formula by Alan Robertson, a highly regarded management consultant and visiting lecturer at Cranfield University, goes into greater depth on the Thomas Kilmann model within the context of influential relating. Robertson examines the various combinations of conflict handling styles between two parties and categorises each as having either low, moderate or high potential for influencial relating.

2. Entity vs. Incremental Theories of Intelligence

The book Self Theories, by Professor Carol S. Dweck, explores the principles of learning and whether intelligence is fixed or changeable. Dweck examines two theories of intelligence, the theory that intelligence is fixed - the "entity" theory, and the theory that intelligence is changeable - the "incremental" theory. Where an individual sits with respect to these two theories can determine whether they react positively or negatively to new challenges, regardless of their skills or capabilities. People with entity mindsets begin to have overriding concerns about appearing to look smart and begin to sacrifice learning opportunities when there is a threat of exposing their deficiencies. People with incremental mindsets (also referred to as "mastery" mindsets) begin to take on challenging learning tasks and take advantage of the skill-improvement opportunities that come their way.

These theories can help anyone understand why challenging performance targets in an environment of change can result in self-esteem loss, a drop off in performance and even depression. If you need to lead an uncomfortable change programme within your organisation I certainly recommend studying Dweck's work in more detail. Her more recent book, Mindset, explains how peoples' beliefs of intelligence can be influenced for maximising self esteem and achievement.

3. Online Personal Development Opportunities

If you're prepared to invest in your own development, The Success Training Network is highly recommended. TSTN is available either by direct subscription or, for better value for money, via subscription to the Breeze online business opportunity. TSTN contains over 300 self improvement training programmes presented by many worldwidely accredited coaches.

Businesslink is a free UK business advice and support service. Besides providing a multitude of tips and information relating to starting up or managing a business, from sales & marketing, through health & safety, to taxation and finance, it also allows you to put together an online personal development plan. This is an interactive tool which assesses your management and leadership skills, highlights your strengths and weaknesses and enables you to tailor your personal development plan. You can revisit the plan at various intervals and the tool will assess your progress.

The BBC Learning website is an excellent online learning service with personal development being just one of the many topics. The site has links to hundreds of courses and BBC related articles.

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Comments 3 comments

Coach Tim profile image

Coach Tim 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Personal development used to be a difficult undertaking but with the powerful impact of the internet, this has changed. So making the decision of isn't as hard as before.

And remember, success is not by chance, it's by CHOICE!


ItsThatSimple profile image

ItsThatSimple 5 years ago from Florida

You have some excellent suggestions for those just starting to learn about improving themselves and their lives. Handling conflict situations can also be improved with a positive attitude. I think applying a positive attitude can give a whole new perspective on the idea of conflict at times.


Reanne 5 years ago

Thanks for all your information! You give us better understanding about personal growth and development.

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