Like many of us maybe you know that you are different with some people or in certain situations and that they can bring out either the best or the worst in you – and quite likely you don’t really know why. Or maybe you’ve not really noticed? One manager I worked with was told by their boss that they were best with their team when they were relaxed – and was consequently instructed to ‘be relaxed’! – ever tried to be relaxed to order? anything that makes you more tense than being told to relax or more stressed or angry than when to told to keep calm! The intention was good but the effect not as intended! so we set out to find that ‘relaxed self’……….
This is again something you can do on your own although it’s a lot easier to do with a coach or a trusted confidante – here are some tips/steps:
- think about when and with whom you are at your best – it may be at your best overall or maybe a particular quality or behaviour that you want to find, as mentioned above. To help you decide this think about when you FEEL your best and when you get the best response from others, or you can ask your confidante
- then do the same with a situation/people you are not comfortable with
- talk out loud about these situations – what’s the environment, who’s there, what are they like, what are you doing and saying, how are you interacting, what thoughts and feelings are triggered when you describe all this? what do these people have in common with you – what’s important to them and you?
- from this what conclusions can you draw about when you are and are not at your best – for instance, you may be fine working with people you regard as being of lower or similar status/position/education and overawed or intimidated by those you regard as higher; many women find they are uncomfortable working with alpha males (not to mention many men as well!) but thrive with other women or less competitive/aggressive men.
- that’s the easy bit – now what do you do about it? well it really depends what you have discovered but here are a few ideas that I know work:
- in the case of the manager mentioned above, although they were a very senior manager they felt they were ‘just Joe from the village’ and nothing special – I told them about ‘Imposter Syndrome’ http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/health/05mind.html and then they WERE able to relax knowing that they were not alone in feeling a fraud and afraid of being ‘found out’
- or visualise yourself being successful in the relationship or situation – really imagine what you want to be like when you’ve finished the meeting or whatever – this has worked brilliantly for me, for instance when I had to run a second meeting with a group of managers where the first had been a disaster! rather than running over and over what had gone wrong and worrying that it would do so again I focused on what I wanted it to be like. A few meetings later they actually gave me a round of applause at the end!
- or you can ‘map across’ ie analyse what you think, feel, do and say in your successful situations and aim to replicate those in other situations eg if you are good at presentations to peers but not to senior managers, what do you do in those successful scenarios?
So what are your tips for finding your best self? what’s worked for you? when are you at your best and worst? what would you like help/tips on?
Following on from the imposter syndrome – next time: how do you sabotage yourself?
Picture: © JJ – Fotolia.com