We are our own greatest competition. Self-talk and noise created in our own heads distracts us from focusing on what is most important.
“What if this person doesn’t like it?”
“What if I say the wrong thing?”
“I’m not good at communicating with large crowds.”
If we can’t trust ourselves or believe in our own credibility, how can we ever expect others to? Earning a strong reputation in the workplace requires trust and credibility. Only then can we earn the right to influence others to act on our ideas and suggestions.
Self-talk is powerful and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy as it begins to play out in our daily behaviors. As it crushes our self-esteem and confidence, self-talk gives our self-doubt power by validating it every time we make a mistake — “You’re right. You do say the wrong things. You aren’t good speaking in front of crowds.” It’s a fight you slowly begin to lose.
You pretend to be what you think others want to see and hear. The mismatch between the real you and who you pretend to be leaves others questioning your authenticity. Something in your behavior doesn’t add up, making others reluctant to trust you.
Some of us take the noise further by avoiding our own perceived weaknesses. We begin to believe the lies we’re telling ourselves, allowing our actions to override any positive strides made toward securing the reputation and workplace credibility we desire. The more we convince ourselves we “don’t speak well in front of others,” the more we hide behind our computer screens, relying on digital messages instead of verbal ones.
Recently, a participant in one of my workshops looked confused as I demonstrated how nonverbal behavior can positively impact communication with others. She asked, “How can I possibly be effective in communicating face-to-face when I grew up with email?”
By turning our communication toward technology instead of personal connection, we jeopardize our relationships and related influence. We limit others’ ability to see us, hear us and read our reactions. Only the words we share are left — nothing more, nothing less. It hinders our ability to create meaningful interactions that establish trust. Without trust, people will not act upon what you have to say.
Why are we hesitant to let others see our authentic self? Why do we believe no one wants to see or hear from the real, true us? By accepting who we believe ourselves to be and matching it with who we allow others to see, we gain their trust. Credibility builds and influence grows.
Here are six steps that will help you embrace the real you, one that you can confidently share:
- Trust yourself and your listeners. Believe that others want to see the real you, flaws and all. When others can more easily relate to your message, they can relate to you as a person. Allowing others to see your authenticity will make you happier.
- Speak from the heart. Avoid the notion of perfection. The real you is the same person at home as you are at work. When you value the need for authenticity, not perfection, others will begin to trust in you as they see your day-to-day behaviors and actions. What they see matches who you are.
- Overcome negative self-talk. Remind yourself of a time when you had a big win. Focus on where you were and how the success felt. A much bigger person lies within you, much more capable than you give credit. It’s up to you to conquer the competition within.
- Choose face-to-face conversations over conference calls, phone calls over text messages. Dare yourself to up the communication ante. With one small test at a time, you allow yourself to achieve small wins. This slowly builds confidence, making daily interactions comfortable and in alignment with who you truly are.
- Seek feedback. After a conversation, presentation, meeting or sales call, don’t just ask someone how you did. Seek specific details. Find someone you trust to provide detailed feedback that guides you to improve or provides reassurance of your actions. Ask what did and didn’t work. Based on the feedback, decide what you want to change and what you learned from the experience.
- Avoid your runaway-train brain. Negative self-talk is like a freight train: Once it starts, it can quickly speed out of control. When you feel tempted to feed into self-doubt, refocus your energy. Instead, think of the message at hand, the objective of your message, what’s important to your listener and the action you want them to take.
- Quiet your competition and let others experience the real you, not what you want them to see. Only then will their trust grow. Credibility then increases and others will want to hear and act upon your ideas and suggestions.