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Confidence: How To Fake It Until You Make It

 

I’m not confident 100% of the time.

It’s tough to admit sometimes, but it is true. There are times when I’m not sure that I’m making the right decision. I’m often my own worst critic, second- and third-guessing myself to the point where I feel like the best decision might be to not make a decision.

Or there are those times when I’m given a job I’m not sure I know how to do, but I don’t want to give up the opportunity because I’m unsure of when the next one might come around.

The simple fact is that every person on this planet feels this way at some point in their lives. When this feeling occurs, a crossroads decision must occur. The choice is simple: fake the confidence until you’re actually confident… or give up and start over from Square One.

Let’s choose the “fake it until you make it” method. It works for me and I’m confident [see what I did there?] that it will work for you.

#1. Look at the opportunity. Being nervous is natural and this tends to be the source of uncertainty. Any time I do something new, I feel nervous. Instead of butterflies in the stomach, I’m pretty sure there are stingrays swimming around in there. Yet the more I look at the opportunity I’ve been given, the more I realize that this is a challenge I can embrace instead of a worry that requires anxiety medication.

 

#2. Take it one step at a time. I used to think that I had to make a huge positive first impression in order to be remembered. Now I’ve come to realize that getting the job done, step by step, is more important than becoming “famous” because I knocked one out of the park on Day One. Or as one of my favorite movies would say, “… Baby step onto the elevator…. Baby step to four o’clock.”

 

#3. Learn by osmosis. Sometimes I’ve found you need to go out and find a mentor that knows what needs to get done. There’s no need to form a relationship with that person either. If I just watch the person doing the job that I need to do, then I can absorb that information and repeat it when it’s my time to show-off. Ask questions if there’s something confusing. Just make sure there is more than one person being observed – it’s no good to cheat off of the person who isn’t doing the job right.

 

#4. Be bold. Nearly 90% of our communication to one another comes from non-verbal sources. This means if you can be confident in your body language, any uncertain words will still drip with soothing confidence. Sit up straight. Try to avoid crossing the arms. Keep your head held high. When I act like I’m self-assured, I become less guarded, feel more optimistic, and that often creates the results I was unsure I’d be able to create.

 

#5. Watch out for the red flags. I know sometimes we’re all asked to step so far outside the box, it feels like a passport should be required to complete the journey. Being creative should not create circumstances for failure. If I get nervous about trying to fake my confidence, then that’s a red flag telling me I should do something else. There’s no need to make the situation worse by creating a negative spiral of emotions that really will take me out of the job I’m trying to do.

 

Confidence can come naturally, but sometimes it needs a little courage to become part of the daily routine. These methods have helped create the foundation for future confidence… how have you built up your confidence in circumstances that were uncertain? I’d love to have you share your story with me.

Stay Focused On High Value Work

 

Remember those days before 2007 when you could find a new job if you wanted one? Yeah. Those days are over. I’ve seen people not receive a raise since 2008. People are stuck in jobs, doing the work of 2-3 people, but can’t afford to quit because they’re living paycheck to paycheck. Forget asking about how people do with multitasking – interviewers should be asking how well people work when they’re feeling overwhelmed!

To be as productive as possible, I’ve found it is necessary to stay focused on your high value work at all times. This way you can stay as productive as possible. Although there are times when you’ll have to do the low value work [because all work needs to be done], there are times when you can actively separate the two.

The Best Time? When You Start a New Job

When you first get into a new position, you’re seeing things with fresh eyes. This lets you be able to separate the low value work away from the high value work. Take a moment to look at everything, then propose goals to your new boss to see how many useless things can be removed.

I have a friend who started a position as a clinical manager a few years ago. On the first day of his new job, his boss was explaining how they input clinical notes. There were four levels of bureaucracy required just for one person to enter one note. So he asked a question: “Why can’t the people who create the note just write it themselves on their own?”

And that one question saved $100,000 in labor costs. That’s the power of limiting low value work.

Make Changes When You Get More Responsibility

When you receive a promotion, it’s the perfect time to look at the structure of that management position. Think about every task which is being asked to be completed in a critical way. Should you be the one in charge of doing these things? Can they be delegated? Is there a third option available to you?

I would also include the times of reorganization in with this category. You know – the “changes” which occur that have the executive team saying things like, “It’s time to get lean and mean.” This transitory time shifts responsibilities from worker to worker, which means you’ve got the chance to propose cutting low value work.

Great Success Means Great Rewards

Sometimes the best way to get rid of the low value work is to knock an idea out of the park with your high value work. When you have great success come your way, then you have the perfect opportunity to ask for something. Instead of an extra sick day or a boost in pay [both important, by the way], maybe consider asking for some of the low value busy work to be removed from your plate. Making life easier at work doesn’t add dollars to your paycheck, but it does reduce stress from your life.

There are a number of ways you can make sure you’re spending more time on your high value work. You can automate your low value tasks as much as possible. Delegation may be possible. You can be like me and just create your own rules to avoid doing that low value work. If it has to be done, then block of a specific segment of time on your calendar each week to do nothing but low value work – and only do it during that period of time.

Staying focused on high value work will make you more productive from an overall standpoint. It’s your job, so design a plan of action to make it work for you. How do you stay focused on high value tasks? I’d love to hear some of your ideas that help to keep you productive 

Do You Talk Like Way Too Much?

Open communication is important. Too much communication, however, can make people feel uncomfortable. In the instances where I find myself talking more and listening less, I’ve noticed that people tend to squirm as I’m talking. They start looking at their watches. The point is clear: it’s time for me to shut my mouth.

It can be hard to tell if you’re talking too much. If you pay attention to the other people in the conversation, there are some hints that can let you know that your words aren’t being heard any more.

#1. The other person has stopped responding to you.

People talk more in non-verbal communication than they do in real words. Someone might be saying “Yeah” or “Great point” when you come to a conclusion, but that doesn’t mean they are listening. If their arms are crossed defensively, they’re looking away from you, or their facial expression is blank, then they’ve stopped listening. That means you’re talking too much.

#2. Fiddling with objects is actually a sign of listening.

When adults fiddle with objects, they’re actually trying to stay actively involved in a conversation. You might still be talking too much if someone picks up a toy to mess with while you’re speaking, but at least you know that they’re still engaged with what you’re saying at the moment.

#3. You’ve lost track of the conversation.

I hate this when it happens. You’re in the middle of a key point and then BOOM you forget what you were going to say. At this point, there’s a good chance that you’ve already been talking too long. This is the time when you’ll need to bring the other people back into the conversation so you can get back on topic. Let’s face it – if your mind stopped listening to you, then there’s a good chance other people have as well.

#4. You feel awesome because you’re talking.

Did you know that when you talk about yourself, the brain releases dopamine? That’s why you feel awesome when you’re discussing you. This is why people who talk a lot will talk even more. It’s like verbal meth. You’ve got to make a conscious decision to stop talking and begin listening if you hit this “talker’s high” because otherwise you’re going to end up annoying people.

#5. Consider timing yourself if you’re not sure about how much you talk.

Remember playing “Red Light, Green Light” as a child? I like to use a similar system to judge how long I’ve been talking. In a real conversation, most people can handle 15-20 seconds of a monologue. This is called the “green light.” At 20 seconds, your light turns yellow. At 40 seconds, your light turns red and you need to stop.

So how do you bring people into a conversation if 20 seconds is all that you’ve got? I’ve found that having questions prepared for that topic of conversation can really help. Ask someone their opinion about the matter. Give them the chance to talk for awhile. Then you can come back for another 20 seconds. Then repeat.

It’s not always easy to listen more and talk less. When you can do it, then you’ll find much more engagement with the conversations of which you’re a part. And sure – sometimes you might run a red light. It happens. When it does, re-engage people by asking more questions and choose to actively listen instead.

I’ve found this to be an effective way to identify when I’m talking too much and how to fix the issue. What are some of your ideas? I’d love to get some of your input on this subject matter. 

9 Conversation Habits of Today’s Most Successful People

There are some people which seem so passionate about success that their love for it seems contagious. You feel like a different person when you’re around them. For me, I’ve learned more from individuals like these than anyone else.

As I started to think about what makes them so successful, I realized that it wasn’t good luck or a specific talent that they have. It’s a certain way that they talk with others. Successful people have certain habits which get included with every conversation they have. Here are some of the cues I’ve picked up upon.

#1. They say “Yes” more than they say “No.”

Being conservative can bring about slow and steady growth. To achieve your full potential, however, it is necessary to take educated risks. You can’t be afraid of failure. If you succeed – great! If not, dust yourself off and try again.

#2. There’s a certain level of gratefulness.

It takes hard work to get ahead in life. Success isn’t just handed to you like it’s a Christmas present. Gratefulness is present because there is a lot of effort behind every footstep taken.

#3. There’s also a certain level of humbleness.

Successful people also realize that they couldn’t have made it on their own. Skills have been handed down from mentors. A helping hand has been extended here and there. Real success comes from a team effort more than an individual effort – though both efforts are important.

#4. “Quit” isn’t in the vocabulary.

Failure is not the same as giving up. When you fail, then you made your best attempt. Do it again. Quitting means you fold all of your cards and let someone else win instead.

#5. There always seems to be some extra time.

If someone needs help, then successful people make time to help. It’s more than just returning a favor or working to expect a future favor in return. It’s about doing the right thing. Everything on a schedule is negotiable. You’ve just got to be willing to negotiate in the first place.

#6. A clear goal is always within reach.

Details are important, but not so important that they delay your work. Reach toward your overall goals and you’ll be duplicating what successful people do in every conversation. Every moment is an opportunity to move forward, even if it’s just a conversation with a cashier at the grocery store. You never know when the next great opportunity might appear.

#7. There’s a plan to fix broken things.

There are no excuses. You might not know what needs to be done at this moment, but you can find someone who does. You can learn from that person. You can work together to solve the problem. Successful people always look to find solutions.

#8. They are always learning.

I’ve found that successful people don’t feel satisfied unless they’ve learned something new every day. They are always on a quest for more knowledge. They ask questions. They seek out wisdom. No question is off-limits.

#9. There is a willingness to share the credit.

Successful people don’t like being in the spotlight. They’d rather share whatever credit is due with everyone involved.

The next time you speak with someone, listen for these components within the conversation. Is there passion and positivity in their voice? Or is there a certain tinge of negativity that you hear? When you can distinguish the difference between these two notes, and sometimes the difference can be quite subtle, you’ll know what people you’ll want to have on your next project.

What traits to you look for when speaking with successful people? I’d really appreciate having you share some of your unique insights on this matter with me. 

7 Ways To Stop a Negative Conversation Immediately

 

We’ve all been there at some point in time. You’re having a nice conversation with a friend. You talk about the weather or grilling in the backyard to break the ice. You might get asked about your family, your health, or if you like the new break room at work. Then, as if it were scripted, the conversation turns negative.

Now I know we all need to vent sometimes because frustration levels have built up to the point where it feels like an internal explosion is about to occur. I’m not talking about venting here, the use of coping skills, or dealing with difficult emotions. That’s a healthy process. Focusing on the negative components of what happens in the world around you is an unhealthy process.

Here’s the good news. You can recognize this negativity before it gets out of hand and then stop it from having a death grip on your conversation. This is how you do it.

#1. Change the perspective. There is a positive way to look at virtually every difficult circumstance that happens throughout the day. It’s not always to see that positivity on your own, but you can certainly look for it when someone is trying to make the conversation become negative. Reframe the issue being discussed so that the negative energy doesn’t receive the outlet it wants.

#2. Change the words. Words are powerful. They have a dramatic impact on each of us every day. Certain words are designed to be negative. Words like “stubborn” or “hate” or even offensive words you wouldn’t want someone to say in front of children. It’s easy to let words like these slide, but they contribute to the negative energy a conversation may have. Choose positive alternatives which still get the point across, but won’t let negativity fester.

#3. Change the memories. We often associate failure with negative emotions. Failure, however, can also be one of the most powerful motivators to strive toward real success. If you know this person has achieve something great, especially in the recent past, then revisit that event. Remind them of the positive emotions. It can help to diffuse the negativity rather quickly.

#4. Change the tone. It’s easy to inadvertently cause negativity to grow because of our own words. Offense can happen even thought it is unintended. Instead of becoming defensive, try being quick to apologize instead. When it happens to you, give the other person the opportunity to do the right thing as well. Sometimes we just have to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

#5. Change the dynamic. Ask for clarity. Maybe you heard something negative that wasn’t actually negative at all. Asking a question about what you’ve heard will help to make sure you’re on the same page.

#6. Change the balance. When you allow negative energy to corrupt a conversation, you’re also allowing the other person or people involved in that conversation to have power over you. This leaves you feeling miserable and for me, it can even cause me to lose my focus for the rest of the day. Our feelings are caused by our choices. We can choose to be positive, even when everyone else is being negative. Go into every conversation refusing to get upset.

#7. Change the priority. The project is due in 3 weeks. Your co-worker is being extremely negative because they feel pressured to get the job done right now. By shifting the priority of issues, you can stop a negative roadblock from appearing.

Negative conversations are always going to happen. When you’re prepared for them, you can turn that negative energy into something a little more positive. This helps to reduce the stress levels we often feel at work, especially when certain co-workers want to come talk with us about something.

How do you handle negative conversations? I’d love to hear some of your strategies that you’ve found help to diffuse the negative energies that others may try to bring your way. 

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