05 Oct What We Say About Ourselves
Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on October 05, 2015
Imagine that you’re on a trip with your family. It’s lunchtime, you see a restaurant, and you decide to go in. Once inside you see that it’s empty. No one else is eating there. What would you do?
Most likely you’d leave and look for another restaurant, right? I think we would all do that, or have done it. We wouldn’t stay to eat in an empty restaurant. We’re even willing to wait a few minutes for a free table when we find a busier place with more people, right?
But why are we like that? Why won’t we stay in an empty restaurant? Maybe because, without giving it much thought, we assume that it’s empty because it’s not good, has problems, or something’s going on with it? Because it doesn’t inspire our confidence?
Conversely, if a restaurant is full of people, we assume that its food must be delicious or good. Is it right to conclude that the empty restaurant is bad and the full one is good? Of course not, but we trust our perceptions and they become our realities. We act and make decisions based on them without even thinking twice. Perception is reality, the experts say.
The same thing happens with people. And that’s why it always surprises me when many people, without realizing it, speak badly about themselves, and sometimes very badly!
For example, some people always speak negatively about their circumstances because they’re seeking our commiseration for how sad or difficult “their situation” is. In other words, they talk nonstop about how bad it is for them, their bad luck, how everything is harder for them, everything goes wrong, how hard the job market is, how there are no opportunities or work for them –in short, they present themselves to everyone like a restaurant that’s always empty– with the resulting poor perception that that generates, as we’ve already seen.
Others always blame other people for their lack of success or directly for the consequences of their poor actions or decisions. They believe that victimizing themselves to third parties is the best way to justify their errors, frustrations, or failures, almost as if someone had pointed a gun at them to make them decide what they decided or do what they did. Without assuming their own responsibilities, they present themselves as being weak in the face of a world they can’t handle.
There are also those who irreparably affect their images by going through life speaking badly of others and adopting that as practically their only topic of conversation. It is even worse when they speak badly of people who were or are their bosses, colleagues, partners, friends, or family, with the intent of putting down the very people to whom they should owe some type of loyalty or gratitude. Can we trust people who, by acting that way, demonstrate that meanness of spirit or lack of humanity and generosity? Not easily.
Speaking well of ourselves does not mean trying to impress or be better than anyone. It means understanding that the loyalty, empathy, transparency, positivism, and enthusiasm that inspire and transmit energy are our best allies in creating a long-lasting glow of success and better positioning of our personal brand. What we say about our circumstances, others, and ourselves has a significant impact on the perceptions that others have of our lives, our careers, and us. Treat your personal brand with great care, respect, and attention, because you are totally responsible for it!
It always surprises me when many people, without realizing it, speak badly about themselves, and sometimes very badly!
Others always blame other people for their lack of success.