I’ve promoted myself from the Communication Evangelist to the Unleasher of the Awesome. The promotion is well deserved, not because of my awesomeness, but because of yours. You are already awesome and it’s my job to help others see that. As I listen to you describe your hard work, your sincere desire for solid relationships, and the difficulties you encounter, I absolutely love being a part of the solution which is primarily through adjusting style and finding the words that work for you. My job doesn’t have a scoreboard, but when I get to help someone get that big job, or work through a conflict, it feels like I’ve won the Super Bowl. It’s a serious rush to know that I’ve helped someone reveal their awesomeness by adopting a more effective style and word choice.
However, what people say, all too often doesn’t match their inner-awesomeness, so we get all crossed up in misunderstandings, negative assumptions, and defensiveness, which not only hides the awesome, it creates lots of conflict. The cliché “Perception is reality,” exists for a reason. Delivery matters. People can only see what you show them.
I offer five things that I believe will help unleash your awesome. By awesome, I simply mean the sincere, authentic person you already are.
1. Start with the questions or situations that make you uncomfortable or even scare you a bit. The first thing I ask a client while preparing for an interview is, “What questions do you dread?” We work on that list first. I’ve helped clients with all kinds of tricky situations, including being fired. There is always an honest and appropriate way to answer these tough questions while revealing who you sincerely are. This takes a bit of time and practice, but is a serious confidence builder once you’ve created a clear and concise answer.
2. What are your top priorities; can you articulate them successfully? Surprisingly, much of how I coach my clients is to help them use fewer words, but with a higher level of clarity. A high word count is a big danger zone for low credibility. Can you introduce yourself smoothly? Can you succinctly describe key parts of your work? Can you put words to your dreams? If you can’t, no one thinks you can do anything else.
3. Is there an important meeting, public announcement, difficult conversation, or interview? In a situation with high stakes, get a structure in place for your response. However, if you wait until you are actually in the high-stake situation, it’s too late. Think, plan, and practice ahead of time. By structure, I mean, create a verbal habit based upon what works with your communication style that sends a strong message of calm and credibility. This habit of using a consistent structure will allow your mind and your body to sync up and achieve a higher quality of thought and speech. I had one client who couldn’t finish a sentence, so we put a bridge phrase in place to allow her to move past the difficulty. I had another client who only answered yes or no, so we put in the structure of sharing a two-sentence story. By doing this, he was able to reveal his personality rather than appearing robotic and unlikeable. Another client wanted to communicate his strong leadership experience but was fearful of being perceived as arrogant. His structure included saying, “I was really grateful to have this experience….” By using the word grateful and speaking experientially, he could showcase his leadership skills without being perceived as obnoxious.
4. Find an objective voice and get some feedback. Are you successfully verbalizing your best inner qualities? Although you can certainly make adjustments on your own with word choice, no one can be objective about how self-perception. There are simply too many inner filters. Find someone who wants you to succeed, but will be honest with you about needed adjustments. “Thank you for the feedback,” is your pocket phrase here because you desperately need this honesty. Workshop ideas with them about how to match your perception with intent, meaning, you guessed it – unleash the awesome! This is essentially what I do when I’m working with a client preparing for an interview or presentation. We just keep trying different word choices and nonverbals until the awesome is unleashed.
5. Pay attention to nonverbals and ask questions to see what someone is thinking or feeling. That initial body language can give you a truckload of information if you are paying attention. This will help you adjust in the moment and head off potential conflicts.
There is a risk for someone to think I’m asking people to be fake. I get that; however, I assert the opposite is the case. The fact is when your communication doesn’t accurately reflect your sincere thoughts, you are hiding the truth of who you are, often at the most critical moments. To me, that is the fake part and it causes you all kinds of trouble. By strategizing your communication to reveal your authenticity, you can tackle your very long list of challenges revealing your best self. Unleash the awesome my friends!
By Amanda Box