“I don’t want to look stupid”. When you are more worried about your image than connecting with the people in front of you, you limit the value you can add to those people.
Discerning people will perceive that a percentage of your brain is dedicated to conveying perfection and another percentage to the shame-guilt when you don’t achieve that.
Perfection doesn’t exist. Authenticity and growth does
Therefore, if you truly want to connect with others, it is worthwhile lowering the barrier of excessive concern for your image.
To lower it:
- Enjoy yourself without clinging to the results.
- Pause briefly to savour each event in your life, including that interview, presentation or tricky conversation.
- Accept that sometimes you will win, others you’ll lose, and that the only true defeat is to constantly chase victory.
Chasing is not equivalent to living
Here are two examples of the difference between image and playing in concrete examples of communication.
Memorizing the answers and panicking if they ask you something you haven’t prepared.
- “I can’t get this wrong.”
- “They have to like me a lot from the first instant.”
- “If I don’t get this job I don’t know what I will do!”
Being clear on your strengths, weaknesses, vision, values and achievements, and rehearsing your stories and data that prove them.
- “I want to see how well the company, the position and I fit together.”
- “I am going to learn about the company, job interviews and myself. I’m going to enjoy it. If it doesn’t work out, something better for me is round the corner.”
Prepare something that you think will impress others, versus considering if it’s really useful and of interest.
- “I have to change the world.”
Preparing something that you feel really enthusiastic about and researching your public in order to speak their language.
- “I’m going to share something that I love. I’m going to find out how I can be useful to those listening to me.”
Play with curiosity to have fun and to learn. As an inevitable result, you will improve your communication and connect better with others.