Being Different: A statement of confidence?

One of the things I love about confidence is that it allows me to be different in ways others appreciate.

I’m often told:

“You don’t think like other people do. You look at the world differently than other people do. You see things others don’t see. Yet what you say makes perfect sense.”

This is not a unique ability. Nor is it innate. I’ve trained my mind to think counterintuitively…in ways that are contrary to what our human nature suggests.

Examples

Here are a few examples to illustrate my point. I’ve discovered that:

  • When I put a spin on my mistakes (a natural tendency) I lose credibility. But when I readily admit my mistake and take action to remedy the situation, I gain credibility. So I’ve made a habit of admitting my mistake as soon as I realize I’ve made it.
  • Persuasion is a myth. We  can’t persuade anyone of anything, they have to persuade themselves. Knowing this, I no longer try to persuade using logic supported by facts (a natural tendency). Instead I ask questions that lead the other party through a thought process that enables them to persuade themselves that what I believe is true.
  • Suspending judgment, respecting others’ rights to their beliefs, values and choices while holding true to mine, leads to more productive, longer-lasting relationships and, often, friendships with people who don’t share my values and beliefs. One of the best compliments I get is when others say to me “Dale, I don’t always agree with you, but I always know where I stand with you.”

Caveats

Each of these discoveries, and a plethora of others, enables me to be different in ways that others appreciate. They also make it easier for me to help others deal with troubling situations they face.

Having said that, there are a couple of caveats I need to share with you:

  1. Don’t allow others’ perceptions of your unusual abilities to draw you across the threshold from confidence to arrogance. Once you cross that line your mind shuts down. It’s no longer open to new ideas, new ways of looking at things, ways of improving your skill set. Instead, you become dictatorial, defensive and immutable. Just reading this I’m sure you experienced an emotional reaction based on having dealt with people like that in the past. It wasn’t a pleasant memory was it?
  2. Don’t strive for others’ appreciation. If you do, you’ll quickly discover how ill-inclined others are to help you gain the recognition you desire. Again, you know from personal experience how much you resist helping glory hounds get the recognition they desire. But you never feel that you can do enough for people who do wonderful things for others simply because they want to help. You want these people to be recognized for their selflessness.

For you

When engaged in discussions with others, look at things from perspectives other than the one being touted. Ask yourself:

  • Which portions of these ideas are good and can be built upon?
  • Which don’t make sense? Or could create problems others aren’t seeing?
  • How can I create an “and” solution instead of an “or” solution? In other words, how can I build upon some aspect of the ideas already embraced?

Once you’ve answered these questions (with practice this happens almost instantaneously), take the points you want to make and convert them to questions. You can accomplish this very easily by simply adding one of the following phrases to the beginning of your point:

  • What would happen if…?
  • How would that work in [situation]?
  • Is it true that…?
  • Is it possible that [result]?

Employ these steps and you too will have people saying:

“You don’t think like other people do. You look at the world differently than other people do. You see things others don’t see. Yet what you say makes perfect sense.”

For our kids

Kids mimic the behavior of adults in their lives. Live the message outlined above and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they pick up habits that enable them to demonstrate their confidence by being different in ways others appreciate…a gift of immeasurable value.

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