How to become more visible at work

Of course you know that you are literally visible.

Therefore, when you experience the need to become more visible at work, something must be missing. What would that be?

How to become vsble

To become visible, you have to add what was missing. You need to add two i’s to vsble to create something that is immediately visible.

  • Add an i to visible, that is: the i of impact. Impact matters. It’s what makes you visible. Visible means that what may be seen, in other words that which you make conspicuous. The point is: what kind of impact do you want to make? What do you want to be seen? That’s where the second i comes in.
  • Add another i to visible, that is: the I of you. The only one that can make an impact happen is you. The only kind of impact worth making is an impact that is connected with who you are.

The two i’s are closely related. Adding the i of impact to visble without the I of you will leave you with the kind of visibility that is wrong for you. You will be visble, but everybody will immediately see there is still something wrong, something missing. That’s why the following rule applies when you want to become more visible:

Choose the impact you can have above the impact you can’t have

The critical success factor for becoming visible is to choose the impact you can have above the impact you can’t have. Research among our clients shows that you can trace at least 70% of the feeling of lack of social visibility back to trying to do something that is not your forte.

Some examples of doing this:

Why literally try to be heard when your voice isn’t loud enough?

(Find other ways to get noticed in a professional manner. One is movement. Movement automatically captures attention).

Why act like an extrovert way when you are introvert?

(There’s nothing wrong with acting extrovertly when the occasion requires this. But when you do it all the time, it will exhaust you. And you will still be less visible, because less authentic, than someone who is naturally extrovert. Introverts have other ways to shine and be visible.)

Why accept the proposition in a meeting that you had made earlier, which was ignored, but is now picked up at the suggestion of someone else – without mentioning this?

Don’t be an alien to yourself

Why would you adopt behavior that will never work, because it doesn’t originate in who you are? Every person is endowed not only with inalienable rights, but also with inbred assets and ways of being that belong to that person. Don’t be an alien to yourself. Make an impact, certainly, because impact matters. But make an impact that will leave an impression of who you are authentically.

Impact matters – so what impact do you want to make?

Impact matters! Determine the effect or impression you want to achieve. Click To Tweet

‘Making an impact’ can be illustrated best by taking it literally for a moment. Interpret making an impact as if you are baking cookies or building a sand castle with your kids at the playground. Imagine you have this basic form of the dough or the sand. Next you push shape into it in order to create a form or accentuate something. If you do it right it will work out. It will be visible.

Right is what works for you. It won’t work at all, or even counterproductively, if you try to do something that you can’t really do easily or at least without straining yourself too much.

Like putting a form in dough or sand, it will only make a perfect impact when it is done gently. Doing it with force will ruin it. Gently and easily is the key here. Anything you can handle or manage easily is done in a way that will be worthy of attention. It will be visible to others.

If people happen to overlook what you want to be seen – there’s nothing wrong with calling their attention to it. Just make sure of these two things:

  1. Add the i of impact: determine what you want to be visible.
  2. Then add the I of you: make your impact in a way that suits you.

This is your choice in becoming more visible at work. Be who you are and learn to have an impact, or accept that others have an impact on who you are.
By  Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

Do you want to know how you can make an impact and become more visible at work?

The ability to make an impact in a way that makes you visible in the right way is an essential soft skillCoaching helps you choose what impact you want to make and how to make it in a way that makes you visible in a manner that suits you.

Please feel free to ask us how we can help you to prepare for making an impact and becoming more visible.

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Build self-confidence the easy way

build self-confidence, the easy waySelf-confidence is the result of things that go right

Think of the things you feel self-confident about. They have one thing in common. You know you are able to do them. Easily.

How do you know? You know because you have done it before, and it worked. Self-confidence is the result of things that go right.

Self-confidence is built on the ability to fail

Paradoxically, it turns out that to build self-confidence, you need to have a certain tolerance for failure. You have to try out new things. They will be things that you have no experience with that they will go right. A lot of the stuff that you try is not going to work out. Only some of it is.

Those things that you do succeed in bolster your self-confidence. But what about the rest? How do we get our ‘courage’ up to try, and try again until we succeed?

A built-in handicap to building self-confidence

When it comes to trying out new things and feeling confident about it, most people have a built-in handicap. It turns out that most of us involuntarily focus on the downside of our personal histories when we undertake something new.

This ‘downside’ is made up of situations that didn’t work out well, on bad feedback, things that failed, unprocessed ‘pain’ we didn’t let go of, or unfinished business.

Although this focus is mainly unconscious, it does have a detrimental effect on what we feel confident about. Besides, this feeling also often translates itself into ‘rational’ objections to trying the new thing.

As a consequence you hardly ever encounter the real limit of your current capabilities. Let alone that you surpass that limit easily and successfully.

This leaves a certain margin where you might be successful and build your self-confidence easily. You just haven’t tried out this margin as yet.

How to  build your self-confidence the easy way

So the question remains: how do you overcome the built-in handicap and build self-confidence anyway?

We think the right way is the easy way. We do not believe in taking ‘massive action’ or pumping up your self-confidence artificially by telling yourself how awesome you are.

Building self-confidence works best when you take action without pressure and still achieve the result you set out to achieve.

The rule of thumb to build self-confidence is easy; you just have to feel easy about the whole affair. Make use of the margin where you haven’t yet tested the full range of your capabilities.

The proper way to structure a process to build self-confidence is to:

  1. First assess what it is you want or have to accomplish.
  2. Next ascertain what action is required and –
  3. Then assess your current level of capability to take this action.
  4. Lastly, consider the level of self-confidence you feel about the task.

The taking of the action should feel as a small matter, very comfortable, so that all your attention can be focused on facilitating the positive effect of your action, the actual learning, and the relation with those involved in the situation.

Evaluation is the name of the game

In order to actually learn you have to become really aware of the action itself.

  • What did you do?
  • What was the effect?
  • How did you feel?

Aim to get a feeling for how confident you felt, and about the actual degree of capability involved in taking the action. The goal here is that you get an insight in your personal margin where the action is still sufficiently easy to take and achieve the result, and the degree of self-confidence you experience.

Once you have a realistic comprehension for this connection you will feel more confident about taking action to achieve a bigger result. Soon you develop a more intuitive sense for what you can do easily and what needs a little bit of exploration and trying out.

A few Tricks of the Trade to build self-confidence

Sometimes it is little things that give you this feeling of easiness and just enough self-confidence to try out something new. A few examples:

Giving presentations

This is of course a fraught subject for many people. It is said that on a list of things that people are afraid of, this one always scores very high. What exactly saps your self-confidence in this matter is an individual matter. (We do advice you to be aware of what it is in your case that makes your self-confidence go down in this situation.)

It helps most people when they take a little time to come to themselves just before they launch into the presentation. This you can do naturally, by e.g. taking a sip of water (helps to clear your throat as well), or to arrange all the things you need. Any little thing that looks and feels natural, and that gives you a little breathing space. (This is, by the way, very good advice: take a deep breath before you begin).

Meeting with an overbearing client

Here the issue is mostly one of being influenced by the manner of another person. This may lead to uncertainty about your own capability or even the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’. Now it’s no use saying: don’t do that, because you probably will do that when your self-confidence is low.

However, you have the possibility to shift your focus from the client’s behavior to the business at hand. You are together for a purpose. Concentrate on that purpose, and on your preparation for the business you are about to conduct. When your preparation was good, this is the thing you will feel easy about.

Above all: don’t defend yourself. Just say what you have to say and make your point.

(* The advice we give here is very general. When you want advice that is entirely focused on your situation and your needs, coaching self-confidence (or whatever it is you need) might be the answer. Check out our offer.)

In conclusion:

Self-confidence is nothing else but faith in your own ability to do what is required. To build self-confidence you need to experiment a little on the edge of what you are sure of. Build on your experience of positive results. Learn from the results that didn’t quite come of as you hoped. Next time, you’ll at least know how not to do it. Remember above all: keep it easy.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

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Self-confidence is one of the soft skills we coach managers and professionals in. Coaching soft skills is not about training – it’s advice how you acquire and apply the necessary soft skills to achieve your goals. If you want to know more, please feel free to schedule a call with us.

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Don’t let perfectionism hold you back

don't let perfectionism hold you backPerfectionism, instead of making you more effective, actually makes you less effective. Where does the idea you have to be perfect come from? More importantly, how to get rid of its nasty effects?

Perfectionism is a bad idea

Most people have some idea about their own capability to do something. They have a reasonable idea whether there actions will sort the effect they expect.

There are some people however who assume that their actions have to be perfect before they can sort the right effect. This idea becomes active notably when risk is involved.

If you are one of those people, you know that the idea that you have to be perfect before you can act inhibits your effectiveness. Instead of making you more effective, the idea that you have to be perfect makes you less than perfect in action.

For one thing, being perfectionist will often prevent you from taking any action at all, for fear of doing ‘the wrong thing’. For another, it will mean you will be overly controlling, not only of your own actions, but often of those around you too.

You’re not perfect – does that mean you’re a failure?

Admittedly, the idea does keep you perfect right where you are. That is its primary function. The idea is supposed to protect you from possible failure. Perfectionism is supposed to keep you 100% secure. But does it?

Grasp the mechanics of the idea and its nasty effects as if an imaginary Chihuahua yaps somewhere in your mind. You can’t silence the yapping. It’s a disturbing question gnawing at your self-confidence. Would I fail when it turns out my actions are not perfect? You can’t ignore it, because there is some truth to it. You are indeed not perfect.

In fact you shouldn’t ignore it, but acknowledge it, and see what you can do with this information. What if you are not perfect right now? Does that mean you have failed?

Practice makes perfect

Many years ago when one of the authors, Rudi, practiced martial arts, he did an intensive training in a Japanese abbey. A ninety-something year old master gave him this idea about perfectness. The old man showed him what went right and how to improve one aspect ‘of the many there still are to improve on. Don’t you worry. Maybe you will be the first who will perform one move perfectly.’

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

Regarding perfectionism, there are roughly two viewpoints that should complement each other:

  • Practice makes perfect.
  • Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

You can’t fail when you’ve practiced until you’re perfect, can you? The precondition is that you do practice, and that practicing would lead to analysis and improvement.

Instead the idea you can only act ‘for real’ when you’ve got it down perfectly often leads to paralysis. ‘Perfectionism’ can inhibit you to practice to perfection. You don’t practice with the idea that your ‘failure’ to perform perfectly is just information to make you better. This in turn means you don’t see where and what you can improve. You gave free rein to what you thought might happen. As a consequence you are tense. Your actions are not free. Actions that are not free are never perfect….

Practice does make perfect, but you need to embrace the other idea as well: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.

Do what you can do right now – that’s usually good enough

The consequence of this practical wisdom is to do what is possible for you right where you are, as you are, at that moment.

Perfect is the enemy of practice. However, if you practice you don’t need to be perfect. Practice makes perfect. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.

How to take the first step?

We know how difficult it can be to take the first step while leaving the perfectionism that has kept you secure for so long by the wayside. It does take courage to take an action when you’re not sure you will be ‘good enough’. How to take that first step anyway?

First of all, make sure it is a step you are reasonably sure about – say, 80 to 90 %, you will be able to do it. Small incremental steps will bring you a long way as long as you keep practicing, evaluating and adapting.

Second, it would be a good idea to talk about the ideas that crop up in your ‘perfectionist moments’. An objective outside view can alter your perspective sufficiently to prevent your perfectionism holding you back any longer. We’d be glad to be your partner in this conversation.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

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Perfectionism inhibits your self-confidence. Building Self-confidence is one of the soft skills we offer coaching in for managers and professionals.

Dealing successfully with competition in your career

competitionDealing with competition is part of professional life. When it comes to dealing with competition, the world can be divided into roughly two kinds of people: those who thrive on it, and those who dislike it. How you deal with competition is dependent on which category you fall into.

Success for those who thrive on competition

You’d think people who thrive on competition have a competitive edge in a world where competition is the name of the game. However, as with all things good, there is a downside to this appetite. The urge to win and the thrill of the competition can carry you away and make you lose what you want to win.

Competition is a game with rules, and those rules differ from situation to situation. What will be prized in one situation, e.g. going after a deal until you’ve got it, can be deemed inappropriate behavior in a situation between colleagues. Your ability to be a team player may be  just as important as being the go-getter who gets things done.

When you thrive on competition and like the thrill of it, be aware of the situation and what it requires of you. Always have clear in your mind what it is you want to win, and what would be the best way to achieve it that is in line with your goal and with your values. Sometimes you can go all out. Sometimes you might have to tone down your competitive drive and show  your more collaborative side.

Success for those who dislike competition

Those who dislike competition are obviously somewhat at a disadvantage in a competitive environment. They might hesitate to showcase their achievements when they really should. They might not naturally take the lead in some situations where it is expected of them.

When you dislike competition, you should be aware of the importance of building credibility by showing others your unique strengths. Don’t take for granted that people will notice them. Work on your presentation skills. Not necessarily on those you need to present in front of people, although that never does any harm. Work on the presentation of yourself, who you are, and what your unique contribution is. Your unique contribution might be exactly that you don’t like competition. You can be the reflective voice when that people need, for example in a tense team situation where competition threatens to disrupt collaboration.

What do you want to come out of it?

Whether you thrive on competition or dislike it, the most important thing to remember in any situation is: what do you want to come out of it? What is your goal? How can I achieve that goal in a way that fits with who I am and is consistent with my values? Be competitive where this leads to the results you need. Choose collaboration when this brings you closer to the goal. Judging when to be competitive and when to be more of a team player is a skill you can  learn. A little bit of coaching might be a good idea to support you here. (See our offer below.)

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

The Good Career and Life coaching for professionals: Do you want to know how you can deal successfully with competition in your career? One prepared coaching conversation can help you on your way.

We find that dealing with competition successfully is often a question of self-confidence. Having self-confidence when you need it is one of the soft skills we offer coaching in.

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You don’t need self-confidence!

Self-confidence seems to be a requirement for success in your career. Thinking you need it however is counterproductive – it actually lowers your self-confidence. To counter that, here’s some practical advice on how you can act without needing self-confidence and achieve results anyway.

self-confidenceSelf-confidence is often pictured as something you must have if you want to be successful. But what if you’re not naturally a self-confident person? Do you need advice like ‘don’t think negative thoughts about yourself’ or ‘think about all the things you have accomplished?’ We don’t think so.

We think some practical advice about how to act without needing self-confidence is more useful to you.

Self-confidence as an imperative for career success is a trap

To get ahead in life, action is necessary. That’s a truism. However, when you think you need self-confidence to be able to act, it will hamper your effectiveness in action.

That’s why self-confidence as an imperative to achieving anything is setting you up for failure. It’s a trap: you won’t be able to act freely, and your evaluation of your actions will be off as well.

The way out of the trap of needing self-confidence

Anything that gives you the impulse of needing self-confidence drains your energy, destroys the trust you have, and makes it harder for you the next time round. The only way to circumvent this trap is very simple: don’t do anything where you feel you need to have self-confidence.

The only absolute requirement before you take action is not that you should be self-confident, but that you are able to do it. Self-confidence can be found in keeping it small, that is to say: find something doable. That’s where you’re not thinking about needing confidence, because it is already there.

Take one doable step at a time

Look at the action you have to take. If it requires self-confidence, begin with a small part that you think you can do. Even if this small step is just to prepare to take action, that will already be enough. The important thing is to take an action that you are able to do now.

Evaluate the result of this action. See what needs to be adapted. What would have worked better? See if you can now find another doable action within the range of your self-confidence. Think of ways that will make it easier for you to take the action.
Take the action. Evaluate. Adapt. Repeat.

A rule of thumb while thinking about doing something is: do you feel at ease? Are you inwardly comfortable with yourself, the social setting, the people, the act itself, the likely outcome… Do you feel safe to fail and do it again?

Correct evaluation will make you more effective

This process of taking only doable steps will also influence your evaluation of yourself and your actions positively. When you act while you think you need self-confidence, experience learns evaluation of your actions will be prejudiced. However, to achieve results, you should be able to evaluate your actions correctly, and adapt where necessary.

It turns out that we are able to look at ourselves without prejudice and come to a correct evaluation of our actions only if the act was free of doubt. When you’ve done something that you think you can do, you’ve probably acted without doubt.

Correct evaluation will enable you to adapt what is necessary and be more effective when you take your next step.

Your self-confidence will grow with experience

When you’re able to act free of doubt, because you’ve taken on something that you can do, your self-confidence will inevitably grow. Instead of failing in your own eyes because you weren’t confident enough, you will grow in experience by taking doable steps that lead towards your goal.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

The Good Career and Life coaching for professionals: Practical advice about the small steps you can take without needing self-confidence. Tailor-made for you and your situation. Can be implemented immediately. One prepared coaching session.

Building self-confidence is one of the soft skills we offer coaching in.

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How to take that next step in your career with confidence

Taking a next step in your career can be exciting as well as a bit daunting. When you need confidence to move forward, it’s not courage you need, but encouragement.

When you are at a crossroads in your career- (you might even be thinking about a career switch) – it can sometimes feel as if you are standing at the edge of a wide gap you have to jump over. The other side looks promising, but you hesitate to take the leap.

You might think you don’t have all the skills you feel you need to make a career move. You’re not sure the stretch of that next role is one you can make. In short, you need confidence. What do you need to take that career step with confidence?

confidence

You don’t need courage!

The world is full of quotes that urge you to be courageous, to take the leap, to act bravely – or you’ll amount to nothing much. And that is something you’d want to avoid. You want to be the best you can be, right?

However, take this advice to heart: If you need courage to proceed, don’t go – stay where you are for the moment. Why? Because it’s best to jump a gap in one go. This is true for a literal one, but also for a figurative one such as this one.

We don’t live in an animation world where you can run back through the air. That’s why you’d better be able to get across in one single jump. As soon as you need courage, it’s sure sign of danger.

What do you need to have confidence in taking your next career step?

Imagine for a moment that the gap is real. You are standing at the edge of the abyss. Someone is nudging you closer to it, saying, ‘Have some courage, will you. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t show some courage now!’ This won’t help you, of course. But what would?

Supposing you are like the rest of us, (minus a few), it’s not courage you need to have confidence, but encouragement. Encouragement that works gives you what you need in the way of confidence to take action. So what does encouragement consist of? We have found that two elements are very important to most people.

First and foremost encouragement is the right support. When the gap would be a real one, you’d need to find your balance and the right spot to jump off. Would this be any different where the gap is imagined? How you find your balance is a matter of discovering the kind of support that would work for you.

For some people, the support is predominantly factual. They need knowledge and information to feel supported in their move. Other people tend to need more emotional support from people they trust and respect. What form does support take for you?

Second, encouragement is the safety to experiment a little and learn how to adapt without too much risk. When you have that safety, you’ll feel confident when taking the action ‘for real’. Again, what makes you feel confident you are making the right move differs from one person to the other. (To check out what you need you can download the free application at the end, and assess yourself.)

Look before you leap

Taking steps to measure support and safety makes sense to most of us where it is something in physical reality – such as a real gap that you have to get across. Just don’t make the mistake that career and life decisions aren’t physical. They are! They have the same physical effects as standing at the edge of a ‘real’ mountainous abyss you have to get across.

Key decisions about your life do generate stress. We don’t know about you, but when stressed, we usually do not make our best decisions. Even worse, research tells us that when stressed, people tend to see abysses where they are not.

That is why we advise you to follow the safety lessons you learned to use before crossing a street as a child:
Stop! – do not take a next step without taking some time to consider if it’s the right one for you at this moment.
Look & Listen! – Look at where you are right now and what you might need to take that next step with confidently. Listen to what you need in the way of encouragement to make the move with confidence and reach the other side of the road: your goal.

Find out what works for you

It isn’t seen as a sign of strength in our current professional work environment to say: ’Hey, I need some encouragement.’ Still, the truth is, almost everyone does need it when faced with significant decisions.

It is important to realize that encouragement is a highly personal process. Support and safety need to be defined according to your personal needs and preferences. You and what you need should govern the form of encouragement that will give you confidence.

So – what do you need to take a next step in your career with confidence? You will have to know exactly what your specific form of encouragement looks like. Check out what you need right now in terms of support and safety, and gain the confidence to make the right career decision for you.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

The Good Career & Life: Coaching can give you the confidence you need to take your next career step. Gaining confidence in life and work is one of the soft skills we offer coaching in.

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