From Ask Lutz

Mousy in Massachusetts

Ask Lutz to the rescue.

Dear Lisa,

My career is going well, but I know that it would dramatically improve if I wasn't so shy. Although I know that I'm good at what I do, I always seem to bungle situations that involve human interactions by downplaying my abilities so much that people most likely have little confidence in my skills (that's what I'm afraid of anyway!). It's not that I think people are "better" than me, I just seem to get flustered and become overly modest to the point of absurdity. How in the heck do I change this, when it's not really a self-esteem issue?

Signed,

Mousy in Massachusetts


***

Dear Mousy,

Some people brag too much. And other people find those people really annoying and think I do not want to be like that at all and just to make sure they do not accidentally slip up and toss themselves a compliment, they become painfully humble. I think this is understandable. There is something vaguely disconcerting about people who constantly sing their own praises. And I am not talking about the Muhammed Ali, over the top, rhyming arrogance. I like that. I am talking about the folk who tend to subtly slip into conversation a quote from their most recent admirer, or the kind that give you their Curriculum Vitae within a few minutes of introduction, or the sort of person that has to out-do you even when you are talking about a head injury. Some people (and I think this might be you) are acutely aware of the fact that if you know you are good at something, then you have nothing to prove. Unfortunately, we live in a world where proving yourself often has nothing to do with real qualifications, but your perceived qualifications based on social interactions. So, Mousy, it is time to shake things up.

I want you to think of an individual that you like a lot who happens to have a strong ego and does not mind showing it. Then spend one day a week trying to act like said individual. For starters, it might be a good idea to NOT go on a job interview during that day, until you have gotten the hang of it. But other official business could be alright, like the DMV, traffic school, or jury duty. Take me for example. When I want to shake myself out of a shyness rut, I like to think about George Foreman. No, I don't try to sell people grills or anything and I don't eat lots of corn chips, but I do try to invoke the essence of Foreman. (I don't invoke the essence of Ali because I can't rhyme.) So, I wake up in the morning and the first thing I say is, "I'm so unbelievably fantastic, it's unbearable." And occasionally I will announce to people that I am an expert on a subject that I'm not an expert on. Or I'll mention how good I am at something, whether I'm actually good at it or not. I'll be really friendly and talk to strangers as if I'm a celebrity. And maybe sign an autograph or two.

Why pick Foreman? you might be asking and perhaps you are asking other questions, as well. I am not a boxing fan, but I've always like George Foreman. Did you know that he has five sons and he named all of them George? Yes, George Jr., George III, George IV and George V and George VI. Sometimes I like people just because they do funny stuff like that. And If I ever invent a product, I will do everything in my power to have Foreman promote it. I recall once watching an interview with him that was supposed to be about his upcoming fight and all he would do was talk about buying his grill. There are other copy cat grills out there, but you will usually find them on the Home Shopping Network, being promoted by a blonde with too much hairspray, way too much energy and not an ounce of that Foreman charm.

Okay, back to my point. Confidence, or the appearance thereof, can manifest itself in many ways and it is my theory that if once a week you go over the top, brimming with ridiculous, excessive confidence, then perhaps a more natural, relaxed confidence might ease its way into your personality. I suggest using an overconfident role model, but it is up to you. You can use George, if you like. I don't mind. Now maybe my advice might seem a bit unorthodox, but please give it a try. I found a horrible website called www.unstoppable-confidence.com. They're trying to sell you a book with a man on the cover who looks like a complete idiot and the only reason I provide this link is to show you what other confidence boosting options are out there. But I'd be willing to bet some serious money in Vegas that if you check out that sight, you'll be running back to the Foreman Method in no time. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Best Wishes,

Lisa

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