Advertising
Advertising

Scientist Finds Unexpected Benefits Only People Who Love To Write Experience

Scientist Finds Unexpected Benefits Only People Who Love To Write Experience

If you’re the type of person who turns to writing more often than most people, you understand how relieving, clarifying and enriching it can be. If you write regularly for personal objectives, you may find yourself getting anxious in the middle of the day, because you’re still at work and can’t wait to get home so you can keep writing! Ideas may float throughout your head on a constant basis, and it might be difficult just to keep track of them all. You love to write and enjoy it on a deep level simply for the act itself. What you may not have been aware of, though, is that there are serious medical benefits to writing.

New Zealand researchers conducted a biopsy-related study in 2013 on 49 healthy seniors, aged 64 to 97. The researchers had the control group write as factually as possible about daily activities or the condition of a room. The experimental group was instructed to write about a traumatic, upsetting personal experience from the past. Both groups wrote for three days in a row, 20 minutes each. Then, in order to allow any negative feelings that arose from recalling upsetting events to subside, the scientists waited two weeks to perform the biopsy.

Advertising

The biopsy was then performed and the healing was tracked over 21 days through photography. 76 percent of the experimental group had already fully healed by day 11, as compared to only 42 percent of the control group by the same time.

Burning questions are sure to arise, and the biggest one is: how did reflective writing help this much in such a short period of time?

Advertising

They experienced lower levels of stress through emotionally expressive writing

Co-author of the New Zealand study, Elizabeth Broadbent, concluded that writing about a deeply upsetting experience enabled the experimental participants to make greater sense of their feelings, which in turn reduced the stress surrounding these events.

They see their health levels go up, regardless of their background or medical condition

The health benefits of writing are (fortunately) not restricted to this 2013 New Zealand study. Dr. James Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, has been working for nearly two decades with expressive writing as his focal point of study. Dr. Pennebaker was the first to popularize this methodology and bring it to bigger stages of implementation. The craziest part is Dr. Pennebaker and those he’s worked with have found almost no limits to the conditions expressive writing can help.

Advertising

They see fewer problems with disease, and ailments often fade away sooner

Patients with arthritis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, asthma and cystic fibrosis have all experienced noticeable, long-term improvements through writing for 15-20 minutes a day, no longer than three to five days at a time.

They are able to organize their thoughts better and let go of the past more easily

Dr. Pennebaker has been asked numerous times about his own thoughts on why this approach works so well, and so consistently. In an interview at his school of tenure in 2005, Dr. Pennebaker commented that “emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives…writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”

Advertising

Some of this information can seem too good to be true. Does writing out your deepest emotional thoughts about a personal matter really have the power to change the body’s response to disease or inability? As wondrous and even “magical” as it may sound, the facts are present, and this type of mental-emotional therapy has been improving lives since 1999.

Recommendations based on Dr. James Pennebaker’s methodology:

  • Write about something deeply personal and of critical emotional importance
  • Write for 20 minutes without stopping
  • Repeat this over a period of three to five days

Through the power of reflective writing, you are likely to find yourself feeling less stressed, more at ease with your past and even more physically well. Writing is not only an enjoyable activity – it can change your very state of wellbeing!

More by this author

Brad Johnson

Top 5 Kindle Author | Author of 10 Books

entrepreneurs 12 Little Known Facts About Famous Entrepreneurs leaders 20 Timeless Characteristics Of Quality Leaders belly fat 9 Reasons Your Belly Fat Doesn’t Go Away And How To Get Rid Of It language Did You Know This Many People Speak This Language? graphic design All The Choices You Get For Graphic Design In One Place

Trending in Communication

1 What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships 2 How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 3 This 4-Year Old Girl’s Explanation On the Problem with New Year’s Resolutions Is Everything You Need 4 What You Really Need to Feel Secure in a Relationship 5 7 Signs You’re Ready to Change Your Life (And What to Do Next)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

Advertising

People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

Advertising

What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

Advertising

Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

Advertising

When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Read Next