How I Went From Very Shy to Less Shy

Confidence is not something that can be learned like a set of rules; confidence is a state of mind.

When I was a child, I was confident because at that time, I had no fear of the “unknown.”

In most cases, when we are young we just go with it and enjoy play, light conversation and meeting new people (making new friends) etc. There are no rules on how to be… we just are who we are at that moment in our young lives and we are not being judged by anyone. Perhaps the biggest decisions we make as children are; which toy to play with or which one of our friends are free to play jump rope with. (well.. in my day anyway)

Let’s talk about fear..  I have a very early example of this. 1973 aged 7- I was a Brownie and due to take part in a Christmas concert with my troop.. there must have been over 100 people in the audience (mainly proud parents.) We were performing “The 12 days of Christmas” and my part was.. “and a partridge in a pear tree.”

One line, easy to remember however; the act of delivering this was frightening. I was in the spotlight, which for most people is where they get stuck.  At that early stage in my life, I didn’t know about believing in myself or my abilities.. who would?  So I forced myself to sing to cue and almost missed my line once, before my troop leader gently tapped my shoulder to encourage me. The performance ended and I was relieved after many happy and proud parents applauded all of us kids. phewww.. it was over.

Why was I so afraid?  Why are people generally nervous and scared to be in the spotlight?  Actor’s who we perceive to be extremely confident also claim to be nervous every time they perform. Let me skip ahead to my working years and share with you how I overcame shyness.

So, “I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar” yes… really and this was the beginning of my confidence building because A) I was in the “spotlight” and B) I was “performing” in front of strangers.

My good performances resulted in rewards (tips) and when I was off kilter, not so much. 15 years in the hospitality industry overcoming public appearances face-to-face with happy people, grumpy people, celebrities and new event challenges, encouraged my   ability to feel more confident and so, I started a new challenge.

I began working for a globally recognised company and brand, where my people skills were valued even more. I rose from service advisor to sales advisor/ team leader and then technical advisor in less than 2 years. I was the go-to person for both customers and new recruit training and loved interacting with and helping people. As my training mentor has always said, “I could sell ice to an Eskimo” and had positive persuasion skills.  Positivity is a “state of mind” and so is confidence. So I soaked up all that I could in the 5 years that I was employed there before embarking on the adventure known as the next stage of my life. Hang in there, I’ll get to the point but if you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know that I enjoy telling stories and taking you on a mental journey.

All aboard…. next stop North West, England.  A different culture and a new beginning. How did I prove myself to yet more strangers? My husband is one of the most confident people I know. Not arrogant by any means, but genuine and very approachable. He makes friends wherever he goes and I was never like that. He uses the “icebreaker” technique, which is such a simple concept, but one that you need to follow up and not be afraid to continue being yourself. I used to be the type of person that went to a party and stuck like glue to one or two people I knew in order to be part of it all, I didn’t have self-belief at that time or confidence in being myself to just mingle with anyone.  I was simply…ME. Me from the very beginning of this story. Happy to be a part of something but froze under pressure.  I must admit, with age comes a new kind of confidence and so I conjured up all of my powers and promised myself I would break down my wall.

After learning that a fair amount of companies   in the UK prefer presentations as a means to rate one’s confidence in an interview, I   swallowed my fear and came up with a plan.

During my first presentation, I decided to wear a mask. You think I’m kidding don’t you?  Well.. I wore my glasses, which provided a mask-like protection that physcologically helped my confidence, as I felt that I was not fully exposed. I performed pretty well and if it wasn’t for the lack of a driver’s licence, I would have gotten the job. Personally, I don’t believe in presentations as part of an interview because A) It’s not a natural   environment and  B) I believe in getting to know the person.

I’m a people person (as you’ve probably gathered) and generally have good feelings or intuitions. So, I played the game several times during my career, with no training just being me and spreading my passion about subjects, people and experiences.  I’ve created events, chaired meetings, started focus groups in order to share ideas and working   practices and find that focusing on liked-minded people, relationships and common goals is by far the best way to nurture   your mind and confidence. My state of mind has grown and so will yours if you’re true to yourself.

Some of the examples I’ve used might help you.  I’ll break them down briefly in 5 steps:

  1. Believe in yourself and take baby steps to master your fear
  2. Use a conversation “Icebreaker” and stick with the conversation
  3. Be yourself-It is much easier
  4. Wear or use something that comforts you or makes you feel more confident
  5. Be honest and talk about or do things that you know how to do (pretending is nerveracking)

I hope my story can help you in some way.

With love,

Hands-on

People who need people

happy employees

Curious title… yes!

I’ve always been drawn to people, both in life and as part of my career.  They interest me, intrigue me and yes, sometimes disappoint me. As  an optimist, I am not here to focus on the negative, but I do want to raise the awareness of the “good stuff” for those who would benefit from a little self-awareness and improvement. I’m the observer and the people watcher, which  has served me well over the years.

Let’s talk about the “good stuff”, respect and admiration for just a moment. Over the course of my career, I have encountered many types of people:

  • genuine
  • curious
  • helpers
  • Loyal
  • competitive
  • Driven

For me, I prefer working  with the first 4 types. Don’t get me wrong…being competitive and driven can be great but there is a time and a place for it and you need not forget about the people you work with.  Cut-throat is not my style and it drains my “good energy”.

I recently saw a post on LinkedIn, quoting the type of work practice and ethos I’m into, so I shared it.

T.E.A.M

  • together
  • everyone
  • achieves
  • more

It’s that simple and so true. Let’s use Sir Richard Branson ( inspirational  leader) as the example… he’s an extremely successful and powerful entrepreneur who develops ideas into businesses that for the most part, have excelled. Did he do this alone? No. He sought advice, created his support team and ensured that everyone worked together for one common goal>SUCCESS.  He motivates and rewards his teams too, which is why and how he has done so well.  So the next time you hear a story or read a story about dear Richard, know that he picked and lead his teams well to get where he is today.

When you consider how much time we spend at work each day and week… our rituals and experiences need to be positive don’t they?  Yes there are targets and yes there are objectives but for me, a business cannot and will not succeed if their people do not support one another. Would you like another  benefit of working together? Okay… what about learning from one another? Each person that you encounter in  your  workplace  has a different style, level of knowledge and expertise in a company or if they’ve been doing it a while, their sector. It’s not a competition, it’s a learning experience. I myself have learned from people 10 years my junior and 20 years my senior.  Make someone feel good and ask how they would go about doing a task you’re about to do.  You will probably learn something great, but you will also make your co-worker feel needed and trusted.  Everyone started somewhere, everyone needs help and guidance no matter the level and people do genuinely need people.

Streisand
Thanks for reading! Hands on 🙂

Hide and Seek is not a game

Real me

It’s been almost 2 years since my last blog post and during that time, I feel as though I have lived a thousand lives.

Have you ever had that feeling that very few people get to know the real you? Do you open yourself up to reveal all that you have to offer the world or do you hide instead?  Let’s skip to the most important question of all..”Do you really know who you are?” 

If you do, how long has it taken you to get there?  I’m guessing that some of you will be thinking about this clearly now and may even have an answer but for those that don’t, I invite you to read on while I share my experiences.

The attached photo has great significance in my life and I have only just discovered that. In 2012, I visited my family (specifically my father who was in his 90’s).  I always seem to photograph well during certain events… which are family visits and vacations with my husband. Do you see the glow of happiness and peace in my face? In my opinion, it only occurs when you are surrounded by unconditional love, respect and support.  I liked this photo when my sister took it, so I used it for several online social media sites because it reflects the real me. I started a blog post almost 2 years ago and used this photo, but never finished the story. Today I opened my unfinished blog,enlarged the photo and noticed my father in the background as he always was, right by my side. We were very close and I miss him terribly. He was one of 4 people in my life that always knew the real me. (even before I did)

So my father has inspired this blog and I wanted to stress the importance of not only knowing yourself, but appreciating yourself for who you are and especially for those who know the real you and bring out the best in you. In conversations with my father he used to ask, “are you president of the company yet?” I replied, “not yet dad, they’re getting to know me so maybe soon”. He loved and lived for his children and we are all storytellers to a degree because of him. I’m not quite sure everyone gets me, but the people that count do. Being true to yourself and having at least one person you can be 100% you with is necessary. Without sounding big-headed, because I am so far away from that… I have learned that I am:

  • Caring
  • Sensitive
  • Loving
  • Strong
  • Supportive
  • Creative
  • Intuitive
  • Determined
  • Sympathetic
  • Empathetic
  • Honest
  • True

Like most of us who have spent our young adult lives searching for our true selves, I can honestly say that the moment happens when you’re ready and that moment for me was when my father was no longer here. He gave me a gift and now I intend to share it with others. It’s not a game folks so please try not to hide.

Are you ready to seek the real you?

I hope so!

With respect Hands-on

The truth about business meetings

We all have our own style of communicating when attending or chairing business meetings, but which personality type are you?

Do you choose to be:

  •  An observer
  •  A contributor
  •  A leader

Or maybe you’re not a type at all and find yourself doodling on your writing pad, appearing uninterested…

Whichever type you are, it’s important to understand the effect you may have on other attendees.

Take the observer in the first instance; this person is a good listener AND a good watcher. What do I mean by watcher?  When an observer watches what takes place in a business meeting, they usually pick up on body language first. (crossed arms, wandering eyes, fidgeting.. you get the idea).  An observer is generally someone who is new to the group or has been invited to learn about a particular subject or event.  Listening is also a vital skill, which may help with analysing the meeting after it finishes.  I enjoy being an observer!

Contributor’s on the other hand are also very important, but there’s a fine line between communicating and sharing ideas that you’re passionate about and taking over the meeting. If you are  a major contributor, you’ll need to have an equal balance of sharing ideas and observing. This is key, as you could potentially “tread” on the leader’s territory. There can only be one leader within a business meeting… otherwise it will turn into a “free-for-all”.  It has taken me many years to learn the balance and I’m always very aware of how much time I take away from the leader and more specifically, what I’m actually contributing.

If you’re a leader, kudos to you! Good leaders are some of the most charismatic people out there and have a knack of keeping the meeting under control, interesting and focused. It’s important to engage your audience and follow an agenda because this way, everyone feel’s like they’ve contributed.  As a leader, asking other attendees to contribute their thoughts and ideas before hand, helps to keep the meeting organised and it also allows participants to feel included. (If they arrive and feel that their opinion DOES actually count, you’re more than likely to get their full attention.

Poor leader’s can be those who are only interested in their own opinion and the reason why they called the meeting. To the attendees, they feel like they’re in school detention as opposed to a productive business meeting. This is where the “doodler’s” come in…. why should they care about what’s being said if the leader has not asked for any contributions.  So they find themselves playing hang-man or something of that nature.

The effect that each type has on one another is obvious… observer’s listen and watch to ensure the leader’s and contributor’s feel relevant and important, the contributor’s help the leader’s and observer’s reflect on ideas shared or questions asked and the leader relies on both the observer’s and contributor’s to provide feedback and tackle the topics discussed.

Which type are you?

All the best,

Nancy