Wednesday 23 October 2019

When someone believes in you, it changes everything

The Communicator

When you shine a spotlight on someone else's talents, you encourage them to go further in that direction (stock photo)
When you shine a spotlight on someone else's talents, you encourage them to go further in that direction (stock photo)

Gina London

Driving into the lot where she used to carefully position her Volvo, she knew she would no longer see her name on the reserved parking space sign. Despite the vehicle that had replaced hers, surrounding it was an assortment of familiar cars; those driven by her former employees. Even though she would park in the nearby visitor area, she would be near those recognisable cars.

Close enough to run into their owners, her one-time colleagues; one-time friends. People who she hadn't heard from or spoken to in five years. It had been half a decade since this person I'm working with had last encountered them. Five years since she was pushed out of the startup she founded on a shoestring during a hostile takeover that left her wealthy, but devastated.

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Once, she had tried to return to the building that housed a collection of intertwined businesses - including her late place of livelihood. She was supposed to visit a separate office. But she couldn't stand the thought of possibly meeting one of... them. She had a panic attack and turned back.

This time, however, was different. "I know I can do it. Because you believe in me." She told me this last week as she prepared to make her first return.

An evening event was taking place inside one of the venues near her old office and she needed to attend. It meant she needed to park in the visitors' lot. It also meant there might be an encounter.

But now, her former painful emotions were being replaced by those of determination, hope, resolve and an overall sense of optimism for the future.

When someone believes in you, it can change everything.

There's plenty written about what happens when you believe in something. But, today, let's explore what happens when someone else believes in you. I'm focusing more on someone outside of your family, because they're supposed to believe in you. And although there's no guarantee of that and having their support is important, of course, this column sits in the business section - so let's talk about more neutral third-parties, like you might find in a professional setting.

When someone you perceive as objective - such as a boss, mentor, coach or colleague -lets you know, either through their actions or their words, that they believe in you, it has the power to transform and propel. Here are some of the ways it can help:

1 You become more aware of your strengths

I once heard of a communications trainer who took pride in 'breaking people down to build them up'.

Not me. One of the things I always try to do with my clients, rather than spend a lot of time pointing out negative traits, is to reinforce the behaviours and communication approaches they are already doing that are positive.

When you shine a spotlight on someone else's talents, you encourage them to go further in that direction.

For instance, instead of saying, 'don't do that', just say, 'do more and more of this!'.

2 Your confidence grows

Imagine you are about to walk on to a stage for the first time to make a major presentation. There are a thousand people sitting in the audience.

Each person is on the edge of their seat with their face turned and looking up. At you.

Now, imagine before you step on the stage that you have been working with someone who believes enough in you to help you refine your content structure and rehearse your delivery to near-perfection.

I'm pretty certain there are two distinct levels of confidence for each scenario I've described.

3 You redirect your focus

This one is super-important. Whether you are returning to a former place of employment, making a speech, or tackling a new project or assignment, your anxiety most likely is stemming from negative thoughts that are impairing your abilities - or preventing you from even taking that first step, or parking your car.

A chief executive client of mine recently took the helm of a new organisation.

He told me, one week into the new position, that he was suffering from a big dose of 'imposter syndrome'. This, from a highly accomplished executive. Dark clouds can strike anyone.

I reminded him of the incredible list of achievements he had accomplished with his previous teams, and this helped him positively envision the success he could manage during the new endeavour he was embarking on.

4 You believe more in yourself too

Once your fear decreases and your confidence increases due to another's belief in you, that belief gets transferred.

When others believe that you can do more, you begin to believe it too.

You might set your sights even higher. Dream even bigger. You become reawakened to the possibilities that life has to offer.

And for those of you who are eager to hear the rest of the story, here it is: the woman did park her car in the visitors' lot.

She did encounter a former colleague. And she was the one who made the first move.

She walked forward, stuck out her hand, smiled genuinely and said, 'hello again'. Confidently.

  • With corporate clients on five continents, Gina London is a premier communications strategy, structure and delivery expert. She is also a media analyst, author, speaker and former CNN anchor. @TheGinaLondon

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