How will I show up for others?

Objective: Understanding how to work effectively with others and influence people to achieve desired results

Key Distinction: Empathy vs. Transaction

Human beings have a need to belong. We need to have a community where we can feel safe “being ourselves”. Professionally, we can build trusting relationships to form the communities where we are supported in our work and challenged to grow. Our ability to develop community (i.e. find our tribe) has a lot to do with our attitude towards people. When we interact with others, be they colleagues or patients, do we treat others as people (through the lens of empathy) or do we treat others as objects (through the lens of transaction)?

Elements of the COMMUNITY / TEAM domain: Network, Relationships, Communication

The COMMUNITY / TEAM domain of your professional identity involves developing an intention of your network (i.e. with whom you will associate), your relationships (i.e. how you will “be” with others), and your communication (i.e. how you will mutually relate and influence others) to answer the question, “How will I show up for others?”

NETWORK: Who do I need to know?

Related Topics: Networking, Cultivating Mentors, Participation in Professional Groups

What this is about:
  • We are influenced by our community (network). We all live in relation with other people, and those people have a significant affect on our lives.
  • Intentionally defining our network. Rather than being passive, we can play an active role to shape and grow our network.
  • Investing time to growing and maintaining our network. Cultivating and vibrant network takes time and effort.

Why it matters:

  • You Are Shaped By It. There’s wise saying that goes, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Whether this is literally true is up for debate, the people with whom you you associate has a significant effect on you (e.g. health & diet and marriage.)
  • Effectiveness at Work. As you develop your network, your influence and effectiveness within the organization increases.
  • Career Opportunities. Professionally, strong networks affect the quantity and quality of career opportunities.
Prompts for Reflection:
  • The people in my life that I should spend more time with are…
  • The people that I aspire to be like, that I need to bring into my life are…
  • The way that I would define “my tribe” is…
  • The three actions I can take in the next month to expand my network are…


  • Join / Start a Club: Go find your tribe. They are out there. Do you want to start your own business? Do you enjoy reading about history? Do you like cooking (or eating)? There are people who share your interests. Find a way to connect with them through clubs or meetups, or create your own group.
  • Coffee / Lunch with New People: For the next two months, have lunch or coffee once per week with one person you don’t currently know. If you are looking to make larger changes in your life, have lunch or coffee with two (or more) per week.
  • Engage Mentors: In your academic or professional settings, there are plenty of people who can help you. They have already been through a lot of what you are about to go through. If you have an idea about something, they can help you shape that idea. What mentors often want is someone who wants to listen to them. Be a good listener, and be willing to learn. Of course, be discerning in who you choose as mentors.

RELATIONSHIP: How do I connect with others?

Related Topics: Trust, Reciprocity, Influence, Managing Relationships

What this is about:
  • The Need for Belonging. There is an epidemic of loneliness in medicine. We have a need for community and belonging.
  • Trust, Commonality and Vulnerability. To build community we need to have trust. To build trust, we need to establish commonality and vulnerability with others.
  • Contribute Towards Others. As members of the community. We build and strengthen our community through our attitude of care and giving towards others.

Why it matters:

  • Our Well-Being. We need to have meaningful relationships with other people. Our health depends on it.
  • Effectiveness with Patients. Our ability to develop trust makes us more effective with patients.
  • Cultivating Mentors and Collaborators. We can develop mutually beneficial relationships with colleagues.
Prompts for Reflection:
  • The ways that I naturally connect with people is through…
  • The situations which most easily “trigger” me are…
  • The words that describe the way I want to treat other people is…
  • The ways that I can provide more value to my relations are…

Reflections & Exercises:

  • Be a Better Listener: One of the most important things you can give someone is your attention. One of the ways to do that is through your listening. We all know that we can get better at that. So pick a few people with whom you would like to improve your relationship, and when you’re with them, focus on your listening. Listen with your ears, but also listen with your eyes and your whole body. Try to understand their point of view instead of formulating what you want to say. Your relationship with that person is bound to improve.
  • When meeting with others, focus on “how I can be of service” to that person: A second strategy to improve your relationships is to focus on how you might be of service to that other person. By default, we are thinking about what we want. Instead, think about how this interaction can benefit the other person. Place that intention in your mind prior and during the engagement.
  • Meditate: If you develop a disciplined habit of daily meditation, you will find that you will have greater access to the relaxation response during interactions, which will allow you to maintain presence and composure during interactions, especially heated ones.

COMMUNICATION: How do I communicate with influence?

Related Topics: Presenting, Giving Feedback, Listening, Emails, Personal Branding

What this is about:
  • Communication Is More Than Talking. It is also about effective listening. It is also about developing a shared understanding.
  • Telling the Truth… In our communication, we must seek to tell the truth.
  • …With Compassion. We must not only seek to tell the truth, but we must also do it with compassion and empathy.

Why it matters:

  • Handling Difficult Conversations. We will be confronted with many challenging situations with others where we will be called upon to communicate with tact and empathy.
  • Personal Reputation. How we communicate with others is often the main way that others know us. Over time, how we are perceived by others is a result of the way we handle our communication.
  • Dissemination of Our Message. How will we influence other people? Through the skillful application of the art of communication.
Prompts for Reflection:
  • The situations where I’m at my best in communication are…
  • Others would describe my communication style as…
  • The three situations that challenge me to speak the truth are…
  • The three situations that challenge me to speak with compassion are…


  • Learn Small Talk: This advice is not for the social, extroverted folks who already love small talk. This is for the introverts who find themselves surrounded by strangers at a party. There is a method to conversation that can be learned. There are plenty of books and YouTube videos out there. Pick a method that works for you. Practice. Use it as a script. Over time, you will be comfortable striking up a conversation with anyone.
  • Learn Improv: Let’s face it. Typing comments into a text box on social media is doing nothing to help your communication skills. What is the opposite of that? Speaking extemporaneously in front of another human being. A big challenge, but it will make you a much better communicator. There are plenty of improv classes held all over the country. Sign up!
  • Handling Difficult Conversations: It’s easy to chat with people you know about things you enjoy talking about. It’s hard to have the difficult conversations with, let’s say a colleague who isn’t doing his or her share of the work. Yet, these difficult conversations will make or break your relationships and career. Learn how to navigate these conversations. There are plenty of books out there about the subject. (e.g. Crucial Conversations) Read about it and understand the process. Then have those difficult conversations.


With rare exceptions, all of your most important achievements on this planet will come from working with others—or, in a word, partnership.Paul Farmer