Respecting The Contradictions That Make People “People”

 

We must accommodate “The Paradox.”

Eric Metzgar, anthropologist / explorer

 

One of the questions I ask students in my UCLA business communication class to consider is: When someone meets you for the first time, what do you think they first notice about you?  How does this make you feel?

 

A couple of years ago, Alex names changed), one of the participants, wrote in response:

I feel like people usually notice my body. It’s so weird because I wear t-shirts that show off my body but that at the same time I hate being judged by my body. I want to be muscular but not too muscular so It doesn’t look like I am trying – haha. I feel my exterior sometimes is a hindrance and blessing. I sometimes feel like men and women will not see my sweet, sensitive inside because they are not able to get past my exterior.

 

I was both moved and perplexed – how can you be into showing off your body AND be uncomfortable in showing off your body at the same time?

 

Ah, but since Alex wrote that reflection, I’ve encountered others who move me and mystify me!

Edmund was studying to become a Marriage and Family therapist. While in the Program, he cheated on his wife with a woman (department secretary) who was twenty-four years old – ten years older than his son.

 

For years his wife, Gail, had begged him to go into couple’s therapy. He refused as he saw no need for a therapist.

After their divorce, when their son was having a hard time adjusting, Edmund nixed the idea of having him see a counselor. He didn’t see the point.

 

Deno asked me in a workshop, “What do you do with someone who won’t let you interrupt?”

Midway through my answer, he shut me down with a curt sounding, “Okay, got it. Thanks.” I was taken aback. I smiled and tried to complete my thought. “No, that’s okay. I got it.” I doubted that he “got it” because I hadn’t finished with my explanation.

Later, his boss said that’s what he does – and she thought he might have been referring to her.

 

Carla is a friend who calls herself a vegetarian but she eats chicken. She doesn’t like the idea of killing cows, but she’s okay with killing chickens.

 

Sid, the president of a manufacturing company, hired me to help him hone his leadership skills – but – he doesn’t see the problem with urging his managers to lie to customers.

 

Jeff works in a diagnostic clinic where all eight technicians refuse to be vaccinated because they either “don’t know” what’s in the vaccine or they believe they won’t get Covid again.

Jeff asked me, “How can someone in the medical field not believe in the vaccine?”

 

My friend Ray recently told me that I am the most emotionally intelligent person he knows. I’m flattered, though most days I don’t feel emotionally intelligent because while I “know” people – I know that I don’t know people.

 

People have an amazing capacity to leave me feeling gobsmacked – and so I bow before the mystery of people.

 

Are the folks I mention above emotionally “tone-deaf?” Sure.

 

But, it’s more than that as “emotionally tone-deaf” is too glib a label.

 

Fear makes us act out in all sorts of weird ways.

Confident people know and respect this truth.

 

Confident people know their own “weirdness” and devise workarounds so as not to get trapped in dysfunctional thinking and acting out.

 

What’s your weirdness? How do you live with it?

 

Now THAT’s the business of confidence!

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

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818-415-8115

Being Committed to Being Confident

 

If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win. 

Carl Lewis

 

 

I spend a lot of time with folks who are afraid. And who are in pain because of that fear.

 

I’ve been reminded of this in these first six months of 2021. And not because of Covid.

 

Linda (names changed) is a client who told me in our first session that, “Trouble has followed me all my life.”

 

It was a dramatic statement and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Linda takes comfort in her victimhood. She thrives (yes, thrives) from the anger she feels because her earlier career plans have never materialized.

 

Erin reached out to me a few days after I first Zoomed with Linda. She, too, made a startling statement, telling me that she doesn’t want to be ordinary, “I don’t want to play it safe forever.”

 

What is the difference between these two women?

 

Linda is harsh and demanding with herself. She walked away from her dream of becoming a CPA because she believed it “can’t” happen. She told me that in school she wasn’t able to attain a perfect GPA and she believed she needed a perfect GPA in order to become a successful CPA and so, she dropped out of school.

 

In one of our sessions Linda lamented, “I don’t know who I am.”

If you are a stern, unforgiving perfectionist, can you ever know who you are?

Constantly, you question – doubt – distrust – yourself.

 

Linda boasted to me that she has no tolerance for “bs,” yet, she is the one bs-ing herself, dismissing me when I pointed out that some of the best professionals I’ve encountered had less that sterling GPA’s.

 

Erin was traumatized when her business entered bankruptcy. She emotionally shut down and for five-years refused to do anything that would challenge her in any significant way.

 

She remained productive – but within strict bounds. She didn’t want to experience failure again and so she opted to play it safe.

 

In our last session, Erin told me she’s at a point where she knows someday she wants to run her own company again, proclaiming, “I don’t want to be stuck in the past.”

 

Linda, too, has told me that she wants to revive her dream of becoming a CPA and working in Import/Export – but – she doesn’t smile when she shares the dream. There’s no excitement in her voice. And that’s because she doubts she can bring her dream to life. Her mantra is: “I tried. I failed. That’s it.”

 

Linda constantly asks – why?

Erin has begun to ask herself – why not?

 

Two women. Two dreams.

 

Each reached out to me for help – but each wanted me to help in starkly different ways. Linda wanted me to help her prove that she can’t succeed. Erin wanted me to help her succeed.

 

Linda is hypnotized with the phrase, “Why bother?”

Erin is energized by being “bothered.”

 

How do you become “bothered” again after having been curled-up in a heap for so long?

 

I’ve personally grappled with this and I’m now convinced that confidence is a process – a process of putting one step in front of the other, no matter how futile you think those steps might be.

 

Confidence is the process of coming to terms with the reality that Perfection is no ally.

 

Confidence is the process of acknowledging that “Win or Lose,” action is always demanded.

 

Peter Sterling wrote that –

Change is not something that passively happens to you, but rather something you are in regular conversation with.

 

I love that image – having a regular conversation with “change” and so having a regular conversation with “confidence.”

 

And the two questions that have to be asked in that conversation are –

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  • What’s the best thing that could happen?

Ultimately, in an honest conversation, you figure out a way in either scenario to “handle it.”

 

As I wrote in the beginning. . .

People come to me afraid.

Afraid for a litany of reasons:

I will not be recognized

I will not be rewarded

I will be judged “less than”

I will hurt someone

I will not be able to recover from a disastrous mistake

I will not be able to “handle” it

I will not succeed

All that fear is bound-up in some sort of lie.

 

95% of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies

and we suffer because we believe all these lies.

Don Miguel Ruiz / The Four Agreements

 

The great truth is –

Confidence is not a state of being that can be attained. It is a process. A never-ending process that becomes a way of being.

 

I’m now convinced you can’t become confident all by yourself as confidence does not take place within a vacuum.

Linda meets with a therapist and with me – but – I have the nagging sense that she doesn’t trust us and is using us to prove that she is beyond help.

 

Erin has created her “Committee” of three trusted friends to help her set a new five-year plan. Working with me and her Committee, she’s determined to remain freed from the echo chamber of lies she can so easily tell herself.

 

Here’s the thing –

Confidence implies action and action implies others – others who hold us accountable, cheer us on as we continually learn how to act in and through and from confidence.

 

Earlier I asked what the difference is between Erin and Linda. And I now think the difference is that Erin has not just “fire in the belly” to change, she has a “Committee” that she trusts and that she allows to call her out on her bs while Linda is stuck in that echo chamber – alone.

 

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.

Laurie Buchanan.

 

What are YOU changing? What are YOU choosing?

 

Now THAT’S the business of confidence!