Pleeeasse Don’t Think I’m Self-Promoting
Some rare folks are pushy and opportunistic in their self-promotion. It’s as if they don’t know when they’re spouting off that the other person is a person at all.
Most folks are the opposite. We see opportunists and we don’t want to be is taken for one of them. As a result we often shy away from any attempt to talk about what we do — fearing we’d be mistaken for the opportunists that we’re not. I used to be the poster child for thinking about self-promotion like that, and it found me getting myself tangled in knots unnecessarily. Here’s how it worked, or rather didn’t work, for me when someone asked about what I do.
My mind all triggered up, I’d be anticipating the question long before anyone asked it. Naturally, I only had part of an answer flushed out in my head. I figured I didn’t want to sound like a recording, so I’d keep the answer loose and free. The truth is I hadn’t really thought through what it was I actually did. I hadn’t made it’s message a part of who I am.
That’s the place where, like the children’s game, we all fall down.
Someone would ask me, “What do you do?”
Because I wanted to have everyone as a client, I’d be faced with this mental image of impossible dimension. In a rush, I’d hear myself thinking, “I can’t possibly say everything. What answer does this person need?”
Mind already triggered, now the barrel is loaded.
Rather than ask, “What makes you ask the question?” I moved ahead blindly trying to guess what the other person wanted to know. In the dark, listening to what I’m saying and how the other person is responding, I’d proceed to get more and more intense and self-conscious. That made me more and more unfocused in my response. My answer ended up so much high-charged mush that was impossible to follow or care about.
Bang. I shot myself in the foot.
unwittingly, I became a pushy self-promoter when that was what I was trying to avoid. Shooting myself in the foot hurts. I don’t do that anymore.
How I Learned to Stop Shooting Myself in the Foot
When I got tired of patching up holes and buying new shoes. I did some serious thinking, and here is where I got.
- What was I doing trying to think someone else’s thoughts? The closest I can get to that is thinking what I think the other person might think. How silly is that?
- I I need to know what I do before I can tell someone else.
- My fear of self-promotion was turning me into someone else.
- I picked the three things I love doing most. I wrote a sentence about each one and what my participation brought to that kind of work.
Those three sentences are what I want to do and what I do well. When someone ask me that same question now, I have those three sentences in my head. I can choose one or all and choose to elaborate on them or not.
No longer am I trying to figure out what someone wants or needs to hear. I simply answer the question with what I know is a fact. I’m relaxed and I no longer limp away from conversations that start with “What do you do?”
You don’t need three sentences. You really only need one that is uniquely you.
I know I’ve asked before, but this is a slightly different situation. Now what would your sentence be?
–Me “Liz” Strauss