- 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, in the same moment, as you look towards other group members, 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