Tuesday, March 28, 2017
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Margaret B Smith

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If you’ve noticed more than one voice in your head, fighting for your attention, don’t worry: you’re not crazy. In fact, it’s quite normal to experience these different voices popping up at random moments and influencing how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

To be more accurate, these “voices” are thought patterns we form over a long period of time. Oftentimes, we can tell what circumstances prompt one voice to start talking. Our inner cheerleader comes out when we accomplish something we’re proud of, for instance. Other times, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint what exactly triggers a certain thought pattern, and if you’re not careful here, it becomes difficult to discern between what’s real and what’s a lie the voice in your head is telling you.

I want to talk about the worst liar of them all. In my book, I call it the “self-saboteur.” He/she is the voice that whispers, “You’re not good enough. Nobody will trust you. Nobody will notice you. It won’t work, it never does, you might as well stop trying, it’s hopeless.”

The self-saboteur is crafty, resilient, and an almost universal phenomenon. How do you keep this negative voice in check?

In his ARTICLE on negative thinking patterns, life coach John-Paul Flintoff advises that we externalize the self-saboteur. The brain is flexible, and continues to develop past childhood. We can take advantage of this and disrupt negative thinking patterns. “The first step,” says Flintoff, “is to become aware of your automatic negative thoughts–and for me, anyway, that’s much easier (and more fun, actually) if I personify the inner critic, with a sketch, and give him/her a voice.”

Flintoff’s inner critic is shriveled and bald, with dark shadows under his eyes. He looks worried and avoids eye contact. He stays in the shadows but comes out to whisper hurtful things.

By creating such a detailed image of his self-saboteur, he is able to distance himself from this bad thinking pattern. It’s not him talking, it’s the shriveled liar in the corner.

Externalizing your self-saboteur takes practice. Old habits, and thought patterns definitely count as habits, take time and effort to break. But once you begin distancing yourself from your negative inner-critic, this thought pattern loses an incredible amount of power. As you continue learning to identify when and how the critic starts talking, you’ll get better and better at learning how to stop listening.

Another suggestion of Flintoff’s (which I find quite wise) is to think of someone in your life you greatly admire. The next time your self-saboteur takes the floor, imagine that this person is defending you. What would they say? If you’re honest (this is your defender’s turn to talk, so don’t allow the inner-critic any influence here), you’ll find that your defender has a great deal to say on your behalf. By doing this simple mental exercise, it becomes clear that most of the time, your self-saboteur is talking utter garbage, and you’re giving him/her a platform to let it get to you. Don’t do that! You’re so much more valuable, so much more loved, and so much more worthy than your saboteur will ever give you credit for, so stop wasting your time listening and put a sock in that liar’s mouth.

Eventbrite - 01/24/17 You Can Get Hired Kickoff - Tracy David & Margaret Smith

Margaret will be our guest speaker at You Can Get Hired on Tuesday, January 24th from 9-11:30 a.m. If you haven’t registered CLICK HERE to reserve your seat-and bring a friend!

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You can’t possibly know it all. Even if you’re an expert in a certain area, there will inevitably be times when you don’t know the answer. That’s OKAY.

In our modern, information-at-our-fingertips world, we might feel pressured to know anything and everything. Think about all the content you consume on a daily basis, whether through television, social media, news articles, surfing the web, or face-to-face interactions. The amount of data we’re exposed to on a regular basis is overwhelming and can also lead to unrealistic expectations from others. “Didn’t you see that article,” someone might say. Or “didn’t you hear about x, y, and z?”

It takes courage to admit when you don’t know something, but it’s much better than faking your way through a conversation. The next time someone quizzes you about a news story you haven’t read or a social media trend you haven’t heard of, speak up. Let her know that you don’t know enough about the topic to form an opinion, but you would like to hear her thoughts on it. Then, listen. Learn.

In a different context, think about job interviews. If the interviewer asks you a straightforward question such as, “Do you know how to use Adobe Photoshop,” don’t fudge your answer. Be forthright with your response. For example: “No, I’ve never used Adobe Photoshop, but I have experience with other design programs, such as Inkscape. I’ve found that I am a quick learner and pick up on new systems quickly. I am also not afraid of technology and would be happy to take a class on Adobe Photoshop if I am hired.”

This response not only shows a willingness to learn, it also conveys honesty and transparency. These are traits that companies often look for in job candidates.

Furthermore, if you admit that you don’t know something (to yourself and others), this opens up an opportunity to learn and grow. Explore the unknown subject and add something new to your knowledge bank.

Remember, you CAN’T know it all. It’s fine to admit to others when you don’t have the answer. This isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of integrity and candor.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

Used with permission.

Margaret will be a guest speaker for the April 5th You Can Get Hired workshop from 9-11:30. Register Here!

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It’s a common question. You know it’s coming. But that doesn’t stop you from waffling and fidgeting when you hear it: “What are your greatest weaknesses?” You know you have some, but you don’t want to reveal anything too terrible that will potentially cost you your interview. Then again, you don’t want to be dishonest or gloss over the answer with something like, “People say I work too much and am too dedicated to the company!” No interviewer is going to be impressed with an answer like that. It’s disingenuous and doesn’t tell them anything about you, except that you’re good at studying stock answers for interview questions. So how to approach this question?

First of all, be aware that sharing your challenges and flaws—the very things that make you human—can actually help you come off as a more authentic, relatable candidate. Joe Grimm of the POYNTER INSTITUTE, an organization dedicated to integrity in journalism, suggests that interviewees faced with this question should always be honest and avoid mentioning character flaws because they seldom change. Instead, mention areas where you’re determined to improve. Consider saying something like, “I’m not as Excel-savvy as I’d like to be, but I’m currently improving my skills through internet tutorials.” Never mention strengths as weaknesses.

Don’t overthink your response to the point that you panic and don’t have one. As WASHINGTON POST journalist Lily Whiteman reminds us, “the worst responses are ‘I don’t know’ and the comical ‘I have no weaknesses.’”

You should also try to cater your response to the position and organization to which you are applying. Anticipate the motivation and interests of the interviewer when selecting your response and personal story. For example, if you are applying for a position as a financial adviser, you might talk about one of the specific areas in which you lack experience—say estate planning for people with over $1 Million in assets. And then (as mentioned earlier), demonstrate how you will familiarize yourself or how you are already working to improve in this area.

Remember: this question mainly exists because it reveals whether you, the applicant, possess key qualities such as self-awareness, authenticity, sincerity, adaptability, and foresightedness.  Reveal that yes, you have weaknesses, but you will not let them stop you from doing the best job you can do for their organization.

Happy interviewing! Please CONTACT UXL TODAY to find out how we can help you transform the future of your business or career through guided professional coaching.

Margaret B Smith will be one of our featured guests at the August 11th You Can Get Hired workshop. Click on the Events tab to Register and for more information about our workshop.

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