Communication – Action Behind the Scenes

Out of many, one area that professionals approach me to work with them is on their communication skills. Participants during a chat after a session sometimes ask me tips on improving communication. When I ask my clients to give a feedback to themselves most of them have communication skills as an area for improvement. Interestingly, there was this conversation I had a few years back with one of my participants at a training. This person wanted communication skills lessons. When I asked a few questions, this is what he shared. He had been working for over ten years in his organisation; other people in his team were getting opportunities that he felt he deserved. During appraisal, his boss had asked him to improve his presentations to the management and work on his ability to handle the Q&A following the presentation. His relation with most people at the office was process driven, except a few, and he wished to change that. He also mentioned that he had a habit of interrupting people and that caused him to feel regret later.

When I asked him,” Is it possible that it is not just your Interpersonal Communication Skills, but something else that needs your attention?” he looked puzzled. His focus was on practising and learning the techniques to improve his communication which was essential, but what he really wanted was to feel confident and secure while communicating.

As we know, communication happens both verbally and non-verbally. What we speak, how we listen, our physiology including voice, and also our behaviours are a part of communication. However, I would not want to spend your attention on illuminating the importance of communication or its techniques. There are some invisible parameters which play a huge role in our ability to communicate confidently and I would like to share my thoughts about them.

Unveiling the hidden:

How we think, has a great impact on our interpersonal communication skills. Usually, we are more concerned with the “What” of communication, but the “How” is equally important.  The “How” is a derivative of our thinking that cannot be memorised. I was working with a gentleman for a marketing initiative a few years back. All was well, but very soon I started realising that he was not committed to the schedule. Neither was he keeping me informed. I felt he was not giving the mind space to my project the way I wanted. I was not sure how to bring it up and have a discussion around it. I had all the dialogues running in my head. I knew what I wanted to say, but was not sure how. I knew I had to be patient and polite but was still not sure how. I knew I was getting upset and had to focus on getting the work done but was not sure how. So, was never able to say it. I just was not finding the confidence to do it. In fact, along with confidence, I felt I did not have any clarity about how I wanted to communicate.

Would you say I needed to improve my communication skills? Yes, of course, but that would be the inside phase of communication. That’s where it all begins.

So if you wish to better your communication skills, feel secure, take a moment and direct your awareness within yourself. Dive in and go inward as that is where the action behind the scene is happening while we communicate.

Going Inward! How does that help?

Imagine, when you walk into a meeting, you see yourself as a shoulder that your boss loves to fire from, you look at most of the people in the management as monsters and the meeting room as a boxing ring! Your intention is not to give in to any of the ideas of those people and your awareness is mostly around how you are feeling at that point of time while listening to your own voice in your head. All of this is happening unconsciously while you enter the room!

How do you think you would be communicating then?

Unless what we see, feel and say on the inside is not encouraging or empowering we will not feel secure while communicating. Sometimes we tend to slip into a pattern of thinking which takes the life out of our external observable communication skills. So, what could you do?

What you could do:

So if you are in a situation where you are not getting desired responses, feel drained, agitated or not very resourceful in certain situations while communicating, it would be worthwhile to explore how you communicate along with examining what you are communicating.

Exercise:

  1. When you say you would like to improve your communication skills get a clear picture of what exactly is your meaning of better communication. What is it that you wish to change and improve? Get specific situations.
  2. Then be Aware
  • How you see and think of yourselves in that situation – Do you see yourself smaller, insignificant or an equal?
  • How you see and think of the other person – Does the other person seem better, superior or not so important?
  • How do you see the situation – Does it look like a war zone or an examination? A kid’s play or a boring board game? Make changes in these pictures in a way that you feel you are standing on firm ground.
  • What is your purpose of communication? Just saying what we have to say or hearing out a person does not complete communication.
  • Are you being present in the moment? Are you observant enough to see if your message is received? How would you know? Where is your attention while listening? Are you aware that the communication is going away from the purpose? What do you do to get it back?
  1. Get to know your strengths/resources, name them. E.g.: Observant, Creative…
  2. Notice your triggers

This will guide you to be more mindful while communicating and also more effective. Since all the internal conflict/ chaos has been addressed by working on the internal aspect of communication you will feel congruent and come across as self-assured.

 

“You were born to be real, not to be perfect. You are here to be you, not to live someone else’s life.” – Ralph Marston

Till we meet next!

Keep smiling!

Love

Manjiri

 

 

 

 

 

The Etiquette Mystery-Part II

Why don’t we follow Etiquette each time?

I have been thinking of the why and these are my thoughts!

One day I saw something at the airport.  These were two wonderful young girls standing ahead of me. The officer lady was guiding us to distribute the traffic to different security counters. The first girl heard the instruction, lifted her sack higher almost punching the officer and walked past brushing her. The next girl took her cue from the officer, looked back at her for a moment, smiled, said Thank you, and moved on. What I realized in that moment was that the first girl was focused on something else and not aware of her surroundings. Maybe her meaning of polite behavior is not being rude verbally. I am sure if it was her interview and the interviewer had ushered her into the cabin she would have been very different. Whereas the second person was in the moment, focused on what was happening around her, and maybe her meaning of politeness is acknowledging people

Anne Linden in her book says “Most of our behavior is not under our conscious control” Most of what we do is automatic.

And, when we learn Etiquette we are trying to change/ guide our behavior consciously. That needs deeper work than just trying to remember rules as there will be different environment’s and triggers. Behaviours are what we do and they define us. But most of the time they are done unconsciously, and that is why they are spotted by others while we are not even aware of it. I am speaking of the behaviour we do without intending to be rude yet people think of it as insensitive or impolite. Tell a person how intrusive he is when he speaks loudly in an open office space and he will wonder what you are talking about!

Some of the reasons I think why we may be overlooking Etiquette/Manners sometimes are:

  1. Habits :

We all have habits and some of these may not be appropriate in a situation. You may have the habit of shaking your legs while speaking, shaving the stubble only when you feel the need to impress, the habit of returning phone calls only to those you feel are important or reacting with a sharp word. These habits are impossible to shake off unless you are aware of them, consider them as rude and consciously want to change them.

  1. Thinking of it as Pretence:

I had this participant in one program who was pretty miffed with the word etiquette. He called it a western elitist concept and wanted to know if there was any etiquette on how to clap hands as well J. Etiquette is about being considerate and respectful to the occasion and people. What could be phoney about that?

  1. No Reason:

While we are our perfectly mannered in our interviews like as though our conscious mind is on high alert, once on the job how often does it last? Sometimes we don’t see a reason to extend a courtesy because we feel the other person is not that important, or we feel nobody is noticing and that’s the time we slip.

  1. Stress :

Our emotional state also influences our behaviour. Sometimes our head is filled with other thoughts, or we are so absorbed in matching our steps with the fast moving corporate world that we just don’t notice what we are saying or how our actions are affecting others.

  1. Our Meaning and Beliefs:

I believe each one of us has our own meaning of how to behave well. While we do appreciate the etiquette guidelines we eventually do what we believe is important. For my wonderful office help at the office, etiquette/manners mean speaking softly, a clean shave, and saying Good morning, Thank you, with a smile and sorry with a lost face. Participants in my training program are unconvinced when I inform them that etiquette suggests, at a business dinner, if a piece of tableware falls down, you need to inform the restaurant staff instead of picking it up.

  1. Intention:

Another most important reason is our intention. Our intention guides and influences our behaviour too. Intent to be polite only to have a good reputation is different from wanting to have a pleasant disposition. Intent to do a behaviour as it is to our advantage in that situation is quite different from wanting to be respectful to any situation, person or occasion.

What could you do?

If you are one of those professionals who feel being considerate and civil is important and wish to get better then here are some of the things you could do.

  • Know the etiquette rules as they have been formed keeping in mind civility and respect towards other people.
  • Practice being more in the moment, learn to direct your consciousness externally.
  • Be aware of how you behave in situations, as you cannot change something you do not know. A quick external feedback would be useful too.
  • Notice your emotional state during the day. Do make a mental note of the triggers that makes you behave differently than usual.
  • Take a moment to step into a resourceful state. One way would be to use your physiology. Change your posture with the simple act of lifting your rib cage. It will get you alert. Try it on.
  • And not to miss, consciously think through your intention. How essential is being civil and courteous to you? “Why” and “For What” is it important? Make sure your answers are stated in the positive and empower you.

Etiquette in Business is important because it lays down rules for civility and collectively creates the behavioural culture in the organisation. Yes, we all slip and may forget to offer courtesies, and that’s okay as long as we know. Just make sure that you are not being offensive and annoying.

After all, we all are continuous work in progress, aren’t we?

We become what we repeatedly do – Stephen Covey                 

Till next time

Think deep, live the moment

 

Love

Manjiri

http://www.manjiricoach.com

 

 

The Etiquette Mystery (Part 1)

What is Etiquette?

Have you encountered a situation where you have finished a long shopping spree and as you are waiting in the queue at the billing counter the person behind you seems to be bumping and kicking at you with his shopping basket?

As the lift stops at your floor, people jump in and you have to squeeze your way out?

You are enjoying a meal with your date at a restaurant and the adjoining table has seated a loud family who is ruining your evening with their noise?

At the medical shop as you are being served, someone barges in roughly next to you and demands the attention of the store keeper?

 

What would you call these? Annoying, rude behaviours? Yes, they are and imagine what would happen if we all did this? Well, Thank god we don’t because there is something called as” Etiquette” which we follow and that helps maintain civility in the society.

Etiquette is an evolving set of rules of behaviour applicable in a situation. Experts have laid down etiquette rules right from embarking a lift, the use of a washroom, your business grooming to writing an email/letter. Etiquette covers almost every area of our life and this code of behaviour helps us maintain good relations, reduce conflicts, and show respect to others.

My Training Experience

When I got into the training and facilitation business I was quite excited to conduct Business Etiquette workshops. Even today the subject is very close to my heart maybe because I love having rules, and what I find wonderful about them is they do not differentiate between individuals. However based on the country they do alter a bit.

In my sessions, the dining etiquette raises a lot of eyebrows. Many people assume that the term etiquette is a western elitist concept. But it is not. Experts have written rules about how to treat or behave with people in a situation or use a facility based on the principle of showing respect and being kind to others, and that is Etiquette. Nothing snooty about it or is it?

Many do not like the term rules so I refer to them as guidelines, and someone has most aptly called them as guidelines for sensible living. Did you know both manners and etiquette are actually two different terms? Manners are more about general guidelines on behaviours while etiquette speaks of specific behaviours.

Why is Etiquette important in Business?

For a business to function well it is important to have pleasant cordial relations at work and etiquette helps you to build good relations. Etiquette in business is much more than just saying Sorry, Thank you and Good morning. It is about intentionally extending courtesies like guiding a visitor in the office premises, holding the door for someone or attending to a client/vendor immediately who has walked in with an appointment. It is also about refraining from abruptly keeping the phone down, speaking loudly in the open office sitting space or borrowing your neighbour’s stationery without permission. They collectively contribute towards forming the image of the company as polite dignified behaviours have their own merits. At an individual level, they guide you to be polite and feel confident on any occasion.

If we know the guidelines, why don’t we follow?

When I began conducting workshops on Business Etiquette for professionals and fresher’s, I attempted not to sound like a rule book by keeping it as realistic as possible. The clients used to have a great time understanding and clarifying their doubts especially with dining etiquette. But the post-training feedback spoke about the lack of consistency from the participants. I wondered why?

I used to have discussions with the top chiefs of companies who wanted to arrange etiquette programs for their juniors. The behaviour of their teams was impacting the culture within the organisation and also the brand image. However during the meetings, few of these same bosses have made me wait even after having an appointment, have placed business cards on the table instead of handing it to me, slurped on their tea, sat in the chair at an angle facing away, scolded their juniors in my presence, not responded to emails and many more. I would like to believe those seniors had good knowledge of etiquette based on our interaction, but what stopped them from doing those appropriate behaviours?

Each time I travel, I am appalled at the way some well-dressed; tech savvy, educated women behave at the ladies security counter. They push their way through the line saying “excuse me “in a commanding tone since their flight has been announced or break the line to grab the trays and place their gadgets like as though those are the last few left on the planet. I am sure they notice it when others do this, don’t they notice themselves?

I have caught myself being curt a few times. Stood very near to a person in a queue or have been distracted with the mobile while the other person is speaking. How did I miss it?

No one wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, “I think I’ll be rude today”. Most of us think of ourselves as polite, but when we’re in a hurry or dealing with strangers we don’t always use the manners we know we should. –  Emily Post’s18th Edition

Why do we overlook our manners/etiquette at times? What happens? What do you think?

Will share my thoughts in my next blog. See you soon!

Till next time,

Think deep, live the moment!

Love

Manjiri

http://www.manjiricoach.com

Presence, what is that?

When I meet people socially one of the most frequently asked question is “What do you do”?  Initially, I try to keep it brief saying I am in business and a Coach – Trainer.  Out of curiosity, a few ask me some more questions and I am most happy to share.  When I say I coach professionals, on their presence it draws blank looks and some relate it to leadership skills. This is usually followed by a conversation where I try and explain what it means.  These questions have helped me get clarity about my meaning of the term and I have also learnt different ways of explaining it.

“Having a presence” has been expressed in different ways. Few definitions mention it as a blend of poise, confidence, gravitas and good communication skills. Some define it as a combination of our external behaviours or an ability to manage perceptions. What do you say? What is your understanding of the term?

My meaning of Presence:

Have you noticed that in your monthly meeting with colleagues and bosses you are more aware of some people in the room? You see all of them but your attention is drawn to only a few.  Out of them, there may be those who bother you for some reason and let’s leave them aside for a moment. Now notice, without intending there is this one person or a couple of them whom you seem to keep looking at again and again. When they speak or present you seem to listen better, or each time a question is asked you look at them from the corner of your eye to know their response. Knowing they are going to be around for occasions or any meeting makes you feel reassured and comfortable unknowingly. You observe and try to learn from them. It feels like you can be yourself when you interact with them. That’s someone with a Presence!

Now there is this other person or few of them whom you know.  They are extremely skilled, knowledgeable and intelligent professionals who maybe have a great sense of humour too. While they have a personality that draws attention, you feel an unexplained uneasiness while speaking to them. They always seem to have the right things to say to you but it’s almost like they are surfing on the waves, smooth yet superficial. You cannot help but notice a hint of criticism in their voice when they speak and how each conversation ultimately belongs to them. They make their best effort to be likeable. Very notable personalities, but you don’t feel any connection.

So are they charming and impressive? Yes, but do they have a presence? I don’t think so. When someone is trying too hard or too full of themselves they would qualify more as reputation builders.

People can come alive in your presence or feel crushed. What do you choose?

Your Presence is attributed to how people experience you. How you make other people feel when you are with them, how they experience your energy and how they see themselves while they are in your company. It is shaped by your ability to be present with people in every moment while being guided by your sense of purpose and intention. It’s formed by how you connect and communicate with people while being aware of their understanding or expectations.  It is sensed by others when you express yourself completely while feeling secure from inside.

Your Presence is,

  • Less about charm and more about grace
  • Less about superb vocabulary and more about the genuine emotion in your voice
  • Less about that suit and more about your pleasant look
  • Not about pretending to hear but allowing your body to listen
  • Not about perfection but acknowledging and apologising when at fault
  • Not about being goody-goody but responsible
  • Not about excuses but about keeping your word

It is more about being comfortable and secure with who we are and not feeling the need to demonstrate anything. It is about being consciously aware of our intent in each moment and flowing in genuinely.

Why is Presence Important at work?

As a professional would you like if your colleagues and management trusted you? Customers admired you? And your team gave a sincere ear and sufficient thought to your ideas while you spoke? We all would like that. Won’t we? Being acknowledged and appreciated at work is what we all would like and building a strong presence is one way to be noticed.

As professionals, if you want to be successful or get better opportunities I believe working on your presence would be far more helpful than hoping to create a good impression. People will keep judging and scoring us whereas all we want is opportunities, growth in the workplace and fulfilling relations. Having a presence may not be a prerequisite for professional success but it certainly is the right step towards getting that opportunity to be successful, stand out and have pleasant relations at the office. The good news is that we can all have it if we work towards it. It has to be created each day with a readiness to grow with every moment through the day.

The Presence of a person is mostly referred, spoken and explained in terms of certain behaviours people do, but presence is not seen. Just because you see a person does not mean he has it. Presence is felt and that feeling is impossible to define!

If you wish to know how to have a presence at work, keep watching this space as I will share more about it in the coming weeks.

      “Presence is more than just being there” Malcom Forbes

Till we meet next 🙂

Think deep, breathe deeper, live the moment!

Love

Manjiri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feet on the Ground

If you happen to check the net right now, you may find several interpretations of this beautiful quote. You may have probably formed one of your own in this moment!   Without asking you to change that, let me bring your attention to mine for a while. This quote always is a reminder to me to be humble as a Professional.

Who is a Professional? What is Professionalism? Is it just a term, or is it a role?  Is it taught in college or do we learn it on the job? What would you say is professional behaviour? Have you ever experienced unprofessionalism?  How did that make you feel? Why is it important to be professional? – What do you think?

I distantly recall my first understanding of professionalism and that was when I encountered unprofessional behaviour. In my career, I got some wise advice about professionalism from a few seniors and then chanced to read a few articles on it.  Along with skills and knowledge, we speak of professionalism as behaviours such as smiling, greeting people, coming on time, dressing well, sending that email as promised, not participating in gossip conversations, speaking in an audible and respectful tone, giving attention and eye contact to the other in a conversation, apologising where necessary, not wasting time on personal calls during working hours and much more.  Is this important?  It certainly is, but are these just behaviours that we have to do or could there be something more to it? Let me share my thoughts.

I happened to travel last month for work. Breakfast was a buffet spread at the hotel and while we served ourselves the staff made sure we were comfortable. On the second day at the breakfast table while I turned in my seat to stand up and get a refill of my juice I saw the same waiter who had attended me the previous day pour out a glass while nodding at me. Then with a joyful smile, he placed the glass on the table with a quick question if I needed anything more.  He was extremely polite and I felt served. It was almost like he was going beyond the checklist. Interestingly, his colleague at the front reception spoke very politely and answered all my queries well which was great, but almost transactional. So were they both professional?  I would say yes. But the gentleman at the reception was “Doing professionalism” while the banquet person was “Being Professional”. The difference in my experience was that one of them was being effortless and hence felt more genuine while the other seemed to operate on the surface. The difference was in their meaning of professionalism, one of them referred to it as a rule book or as an expected behaviour while the other went one level deeper.

This difference in our way of being at work comes from our intention or our meaning of professionalism. The intent to make a good impression and do my job well is different from the intent to serve clients well and make a difference. Both are different meanings of professionalism for two people. What matters is what you choose. Choose an intention that feels true to you, empowers you.

Be valued as a Professional

We all have encountered that professional who says the right words yet we don’t experience those words.  At the same time, we have also met those professionals who magically connect with the same words and the experience is beyond those words. That distinctive feel between the two is the professional edge you could have when you begin to stop just doing professional behaviour and build your personal effectiveness at work based on your meaning of professionalism.  Moreover, that will lead you to gain more opportunities to be successful, build credibility and sustain good relationships.

The First Step

So how do we become aware of our intention and think through our meaning of professionalism? Just begin by asking a few questions;

What is important for me at work?

What does success mean to me?

How do I want to be perceived?

How do I want people to experience my presence?

Who is the real me that I wish to express?

How do I want my work to stand out?

How do I want people to go back feeling after interacting with me?

As you get clearer, you will begin to feel firmly rooted and being a professional will become effortless. Your journey to optimising personal effectiveness at work begins with this. As you reach the stars, feel the ground below your feet!

“You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.” – A New Earth

Think deep, live in the moment!

Love

Manjiri

 

Let us Re-Invent!

As we move ahead in life, based on the natural laws that govern human growth and progress, enriched with experiences, and changing circumstances, our roles and goals keep on changing and to keep up with the momentum we need to keep on reinventing ourselves. Of course, we need to always be who we are but there can always be a better you

These are a few lines that I had penned down five years back when I became a Consultant.  I had to decide a name for my company and the word “Reinvent” kept coming back, but I thought it sounded like a formula and decided to reinvent it further and called my company “Reivent”.  I realise now, that the fascination with this term was coming more out of my experience, as with the new venture of mine I was reinventing myself. Little did I know that this small piece would capture the essence of my work with people!

A few days back one of my clients read this out (it is printed on the book that I give them) loud and mentioned how it had set him thinking deeply. Now as I read it I feel it could have been worded better, but yet it captures the meaning of reinventing as I saw it then. Admittedly at the same time, today the meaning of the term has expanded.

My Understanding of Reinventing self… Today:

I am a big fan of animation movies and one of my favourites is the Kung Fu panda series. While I love all the sequels, there are a few scenes which I simply adore. Do you remember the first of the series, where Shifu, the master is trying to teach Kung Fu to Po the student panda and is being unsuccessful?  Then one day he comes across Po in the kitchen doing a split midair, enjoying cookies. Thus now the master found a way of training his disciple the way that fits him, works for him. In that moment, I feel Master Shifu reinvented himself.

Being an ardent fan of Mr Bachchan and having seen his movies right from the 70s, I always feel inspired when I see how he has reinvented himself in the 2000’s.

My grandmother-in-law gave up wearing her nine-yard sari and got into a five-yard sari as she wanted to move ahead with times and called it a refreshing change. That also is a way of reinventing self.

In my previous days of working in our family business, as I had mentioned, I used to avoid conflict situations and felt it was a noble thing to do.  It was protecting me for sure, but also pushing me into a bubble where I pretended that all is well.

As my world expanded and I got into the role of a coach, this behaviour was almost like pulling wool over my eyes and I felt that I was not serving my clients well because of this inhibition. As a coach worked with me I realised I wanted to stop pretending and told myself that whether I am training or sitting with a client and feel that something else is on their mind, I will bring it out in the open and discuss it. Just being vulnerable set me free because I allowed myself to be uncomfortable and have an honest dialogue with the client. I suddenly found myself feeling stronger as I had adapted myself to the new role I had stepped into and this change in attitude has helped create a new perspective in almost all situations in life. This for me is evolution, growth, personal development, re-invention.

Why am I writing this, what is it that I want to share?

As a coach what I see happening is while most people are open to coaching, there is also an apprehension. I feel this hesitation comes mostly from the comfort of living life with our well-anchored beliefs and values.  Coaching is also a tool for personal development and enables people to take responsibility for their life and consciously work on reinventing themselves. But most people would rather continue to do what they have been habituated to do and wait for miraculous results.

As I meet people for business, I hear a common thread of discomfort about handling perplexing relations in office, career not shaping well or ways of the management. Now while I completely agree it is not possible to control the fast-moving external world or not feel a tad bit of pity for self, I also sense we have discovered a comfortable way of doing things or approaching problems and then keep telling ourselves this is who I am.  Imagine in the movie Kung panda, if Master Shifu had not chosen to reinvent himself, how would have the universe responded?

I see a few friends who keep changing jobs as they are unhappy with their teams and management, and as they share their problems the core thinking is that they want everything and everyone to change, except them. I admit I too have been there and sometimes tend to slip in that place.  But sometimes this resistance to look inward and grow can be the point where we miss our bus towards living life fully and completely. We want our lives to get better, have amazing relations and work promotions but then also want to be who were being since medieval times.

Rather than that how about taking a good look at ourselves, sensing, reflecting and shifting? It is about change, yes! But change does not mean losing self. What if we looked at change as a part of growth? Or maybe a way of adding one more dimension to our personality?

I believe change is inevitable. It is the law of nature. While we refuse to evolve consciously we forget that other people, circumstances, our goals, and unconsciously we too are changing and it’s our choice whether to be that child who wants things his way or discover ways to reinvent.

Where to begin?

You may begin in small ways like being aware of self, looking at situations and yourself from different perspectives, associating with people who help you grow. Then slowly move towards breaking the not so useful patterns and develop powerful routines. I will be sharing more about this in the weeks to come.

As we choose new goals and new horizons to walk towards, let us choose to develop and grow into that person who needs to evolve to get there.  Also as the external environment is being true to the inevitable nature of change, can we shape ourselves to meet that change in a way where we do not lose our true spirit but just add more colours to it?

 

“If you only do what you can do, you’ll never be better than what you are” – Master Shifu

 

The Inside-Out-Inside Talk

At Work…

  • Have you ever sat in a meeting room, full of people, and felt almost invisible?
  • Have you ever walked confidently to a person and suddenly felt yourself shrink?
  • Do you ever feel the need to say what is on your mind and sense more words being gulped down rather than spoken?
  • Have you heard your own voice say to you,” He is so much better”!

Well, almost all of the above instances are coming straight out of my personal book and how and when I became aware of them is very interesting.

This was while I was working in our family business many years back. As I learnt the brass tacks of business there were several instances when I felt uneasy and unsure. This was mostly while conversing with clients and vendors. Whenever I felt they were being firm or smarter I used to feel insignificant, and with people who were clearly rude or bullies (oh yes, they do exist), I used to either shut down or blow my top off.

Very soon, I began shielding my ego by not being around those people or in situations where I felt shaky and conveniently convinced myself that I was a better soul and that the world was cruel. Moreover, I thought managing business relations is not one of my talents and let my husband handle that as I hid behind the accounting files. I found my safe spot in Accounts and Finance which were my favourite subjects in college. However, at the same time, I was comfortable managing the people who worked for us.

When I stepped out of my cocoon into the world of training and consulting, I soon realised that this fear of meeting unknown people and discussing business was limiting my potential.

As a trained image consultant I was taught to dress and present myself well, and with the business suits, heels and knowledge of my subject in tow, I felt I was ready to impress. I felt incredible mostly only till the other person came into the picture to discuss business, and the reason I say mostly is because I was able to handle some conversations although a silent voice saying “not good enough” racked my nerves.  Otherwise, my awkwardness was clearly visible, especially while meeting CEOs. But surprisingly in my consulting and training sessions, I felt extremely secure, confident and spirited.

Almost always it is not them, but it is your inner doing:

And then, when I decided to work on my fear, one question by my mentor changed my perspective, and that was: “If he is the CEO, who are you”? Instantly, I became aware of my thinking and realised that I was looking at myself in that situation as a Nobody! This Aha moment did not dissolve my fears entirely but suddenly I found ground to stand on and standing there felt like now I could create what I want. I realised our mind can be very tricky and how we feel in a situation is mostly defined by our perception. How we perceive others, see ourselves, and the situation, will lead our communication and all of this happens unconsciously.

What I realised was that though it is important to know how to present ourselves and have good language skills to connect with people, if the inside is not sorted out then the external is just an eyewash.  But then also, when we carry ourselves gracefully, dress as per our values and know the right business etiquette, it makes us feel secure and dignified on the inside.

So how does it work? Well, I believe it’s not” either “, “or” as it works both ways, Inside out and Outside in.

Have you noticed, in office you feel apprehensive with a particular person and in those moments you either feel that you are not good enough or discreetly blame him for your discomfort. But then you notice other members of your team standing next to you, completely at ease and wonder how that happens! Also in the same place with other people, you feel free and totally in control.

So the question is, are they the problem? I don’t think so. “They” are not difficult or easy, it is our ability and perception window which is fogged, and that needs to be cleared!  Which coincidently again is on the inside 🙂

So for those of you who are experiencing something similar at work, while you may need to look into your external observable behaviours, also take a moment to go inward and reflect! Start becoming aware of what exactly is happening when you say you feel low on confidence. Discover what you feel at that moment on the inside. Listen to what you are saying to yourself. Ask, how is it that you see yourself in that situation? How do you view the other person? And notice if you would like to change any of it so that you can find your ground to begin with!

 “This Universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are” – Rumi

  Love

Manjiri