First Impressions: Overcoming Small Traits That Hold You Back in Life & Business
In my experience coaching clients, getting people to talk about themselves and their ideas with others is one of the most effective ways to increase the speed at which change takes place. When people simply think about an idea or talk about it for the future (“Oh someday I want to….”,“Maybe in 5 years I’ll….”) things do not change. But the minute they embrace and own their desire, their vision—even if it’s just a seedling—and they tend and water it consistently, it starts to grow and take form. I’ve seen more people achieve their visions in 9 months they thought would “someday” happen once they opened up!
It’s been researched that our self perceptions often do not match how others see or experience us—for better or for worse. That’s why CONNECTIONS are so important. They give us feedback about ourselves and create a pathway for interaction that can help bring about changes you want to make.
How Do You Want to Connect? Where Are You Growing To?
I have fabulous coaching clients. They come in all shapes, sizes, interests and personalities. But they often present a common statement about themselves. When presented with a challenge to “get out there”, some men will avoid doing so. Women will say:
The response may come from the same place of self-doubt or insecurity.
It’s said more as a fact rather than an excuse for how they approach (or do not approach) networking or talking spontaneously about their expertise, or who they help through their work. As a result they miss many opportunities to spread the word so that people get to know them, trust them—and eventually—hire them!
Then they lament that the changes they wish to make in their business are not happening faster.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Do you relate?
Start Just Where You Are: Show Up and Open Up
You’ve heard the fact that people make decisions about one another within the first few minutes of meeting. So if you want to achieve your big business and life goals—and if you are “shy”—make a plan, develop and practice strategies to connect with others—quickly and easily. Here are some examples.
“I’m Interested in You.”
Developing a friendship, and even a working alliance, takes time. Even though she claims to be a bit “shy”, Bethany chooses one or two people she wants to get to know each year and then she “courts” them on a consistent basis. She invites them to lunch or to go on walks, and they have a conversation.
Bethany let’s the people she’s courting that she’d like to become friends, or to get to know them better. She proposes getting together once a month or every six weeks. She let’s them know she’s interested.
Consciously implementing this approach, Bethany has made some very long-lasting, loyal and very interesting friends. She even works with some of them so they share many interests and sometimes, clients.
“So What Do You Think About Me?”
Carole talks liberally as she directs her creative team. She’s funny, smart and a very interesting person. She just never talked about herself outside the office. She’s passionate. She knew her work was excellent. She just didn’t see the need to talk about herself or it—her work. That is until she was very unhappy at her current company and she was given the coaching assignment to open up, reach out and talk.
She had to ask 10 people who know her and her work what they thought she should or could do. It was eye-opening.
People love to give feedback and you’ll often learn a lot.
Carole was reaffirmed about the terrific reputation she has around town. Even when you know you’re good at what you do, it’s easy to doubt when you never talk about yourself or get direct feedback. Talking with others who know her work gave her confidence that if she left the company and struck out on her own, she’d be well received. She came away from this series of lunch or coffee meetings with colleague/friends realizing that when she starts her business, these folks will either hire her or refer her to someone who will!
“I’m Curious How You Do….? What Do You Think About….?”
Megan’s very interested in breaking ground in a brand new technology field that others are passionately excited about too. Last year she went to a week long conference with these types and met NO one. Because she talked to no one!
This year all that changed. Through coaching, we simply strategize each time she goes into a new situation. It’s as simple as a series of get acquainted questions and visualizing having fun, meeting people, and in return, people having a positive response to her.
As a result of strategizing a few conversation openers about this new field and rehearsing how she wanted to be, who she wanted to meet and the kind of experience she wanted to have at the conference, Megan had a great time. She met a lot of new contacts.
Now we’re strategizing how she can stay in touch and promote working relationships with these folks as she expands into this brand new field.
“Here’s Where I’m Going & Growing—What Are You Growing Into?”
Start talking to everyone about your big future vision, about yourself and what you’re doing, producing, how you are serving in that future role. Talk “as though” it’s happening now—because it IS happening now.
When Mary was anticipating her second career as an artist, she talked to everyone about her plans. “I’m planning my studio space and thinking about a project I’m going to start the summer I finish teaching fulltime.” She shared how she thought her schedule would go and included exercise, painting time, networking with other artists and playtime in her thinking out loud.
Such “thinking out loud” about her plans, both reinforced her commitment and what she intended to do the minute she retired, they also led to discussions of her passions and the passions of others—what they wanted to do.
Talking with friends and colleagues reinforced in her mind the very specific actions she began to put in place right after she ended her teaching position. As a result Mary’s transition into her career as an artist went smoothly and has grown ever since. She was already there!
Mutual discussion about your desires and plans help develop a community of like-minded people around you who are also reaching for their big life visions too!
Watch Your Language
Learn to talk about your developing projects, plans or business in “present day” terms. Stay away from futurizing, hesitancy or self-deprecation in your talk. You are talking about what you are PASSIONATE about! What you DESIRE. What you LOVE to do!
Again it’s a bit like behaving “as if.”
In stead of saying “Someday, maybe 3 years from now I want to…..” try saying: I’m very interested in…I’m creating a plan to….I’m talking to everyone about…what do you think?….As I do so I’m finding….It’s opened my thinking to….It’s made me realize….”
Ask for and be open to ideas and suggestions from others. Practice building on those ideas as you converse. Always ask for resources or other people to connect with.
Don’t Hesitate to Be the Newbie
Rebecca may be shy but in her passion to become a writer—and a great writer—she’s put herself in situations where she is the least experienced writer. She’ll frequently take classes with advanced writers. She’s learned to listen a lot and ask questions. She let’s them know her big goal and is open to feedback.
She’s grateful for their experience because she does not need to reinvent the wheel.
Not indulging her shyness has propelled Rebecca into a graduate writing program, where once again she’s the newbie, but everyone around her is there to help one another.
Connecting with others who know more than you (teachers, mentors, coaches) and being around other like-minded people (classes, networking, masterminding) will help you grow by leaps and bounds in ways you cannot when you go it alone.
Get Over Yourself; You Are Here to Serve
My final piece of advice comes from one of my voice coaches, Cheryl Moore-Brinkley of B-Vocal. Years ago, when I was feeling “shy” one day she challenged me saying “Jan, just get over yourself! Remember you are here to serve. It’s not about you, it’s about the people who need you.” My head spun around and I refocused immediately.
So, if you remember you are here to serve others, it’s easy to forget about yourself! And get out t