“That’s Just the Way I Am”
Take a moment and think of the most obnoxious person you know.
Have someone in mind? Now ask yourself my favorite question: Why? What makes this person obnoxious?
Much of my work involves promoting Authenticity. Some people hide. These people shrink back from life, as if they need someone’s permission to live it to the fullest and realize their potential. I give people tools to communicate their true selves, I show them that they are enough, and I help them stand up for who they are and what they believe in. I often say, “You are bigger than you think.”
Being willing to communicate your true self is one necessary ingredient for success. Yet that is only half the equation. On the opposite end of the spectrum from the Hiders—those who are afraid to put themselves out there in a big way—we find the Pushers.
Chances are the obnoxious person you thought of fits in this category. These people push themselves, their thoughts, their values, or even just their volume on others who don’t want it. Sometimes, they are simply colossally unaware of how they come across. Other times, they know what they say or do is offensive, but gain a sense of power by forcing it on others.
Perhaps you’ve heard some of these favorite “Pusher” sayings:
- That’s just the way I am.
- I’m only being honest.
- You’re too sensitive.
Both Hiding and Pushing come from a place of Fear: fear of inadequacy, fear of rejection, fear of failure. It’s easy to see the connection between Hiding and Fear. Yet Pushing often conceals deep insecurities, too. Only when we fear we aren’t enough do we try to steal power from others.
Both Pushing and Hiding are inauthentic. Pushing attempts to give an impression that is harsher or stronger than reality, and Hiding one that is weaker. And both, as you can imagine, are communicated nonverbally.
So, what is the antidote? Confidence.
Confidence doesn’t Hide. Confidence doesn’t Push. Confidence claims space without encroaching on others or withdrawing from them. When we Hide or Push, we are off-balance: Both physically and metaphorically, we can easily be knocked off our feet. When we stand with Confidence we are centered, grounded, and therefore, stable.
Confidence says, “I am enough.” Confidence says, “I am safe and strong. I don’t need to hide from you.” Confidence says, “I am self-assured and powerful. I don’t need to take from you.”
Wonderfully, when you communicate that you are safe and powerful, others around you feel less need to Hide or to Push. By communicating Confidence, you inspire authenticity in others. And isn’t that the goal? Real communication, in real time, with real people.