I was recently chatting with a friend and we were discussing some professional challenges. We were talking about how we are both rather outspoken and how that is not always a quality that is appreciated by others. We jokingly concluded that rather than calling ourselves blunt, we instead should add to our resume that we have excellent communication skills and are capable of addressing issues and articulating concepts that some may find difficult. That started me thinking--the stories we tell and the pictures we paint are what others see.
We are often asked the questions in interviews “What are your greatest strengths?” or “What is your greatest weakness?” How do you answer that? How do you talk about your strengths in such a way that you come across confident, but not cocky? And weaknesses--no one likes to talk about their weaknesses. It’s hard. Here is a few of my personal examples.
The Truth: I am able to herd cats into a uniformed pattern to accomplish a task.
My story: I excel at building community and team in order to achieve consensus in a group to complete projects and tasks.
The Truth: I will work myself sick and silly to achieve the desired results.
My picture: I am tenacious, do not give up easily and am willing to put as much effort into a project as is necessary to succeed.
The Truth: I am an emotional person.
My picture: I am passionate and you will often find me pouring everything into a project.
The Truth: I expect as much from all of my team members as I am willing to give myself which sometimes leaves me disappointed.
My story: I aspire to inspire people to achieve 100% buy-in to the success of a project.
It’s not just the words and phrases you use to tell a story or paint a picture though. It is also your attitude. People will spot a con job. If you are trying to snow them with pretty, flowery ideals and you don’t believe them yourself, you will encounter problems. The key is to flip the script in your mind. When you believe it, you can sell it.
What is the story you want to tell? How will you paint your picture? When was the last time you adjusted your point of view in order to put forth the image necessary to succeed?