Episode #30: How to Be a Professional and Powerful Communicator

The Claim The Lead podcast is for you if you want to create a meaningfully well-lived life. My name is Teena Evert, I am a Career-Centered Life Coach, Trainer, and Podcast Host with a true passion for helping people develop greater self-awareness, satisfaction, and success in their work-life. I help you unlock your possibilities and find a career you love for life!

This episode is part of the Career Advancement Series that has been curated to help you become an exceptional communicator.

In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • The antidote to fear of success or failure
  • The importance of having a growth mindset
  • Strategies to boost your confidence, self-esteem and strengthen your relationships with others
  • How to get the credit you deserve

Many of my clients have asked me how to appear poised and confident even when you’re not..

In prior episodes of the Career Advancement Series, I talked about how our fear can affect our communication. One of the primary examples was when we put our foot in our mouth by speaking first and thinking later. When that happens to us, we feel so embarrassed that we get nervous about making the same mistake again in the future.

A different type of fear can occur when we’re entering a confrontational situation. Often times it’s because we’re afraid that we’ll come across as weak, or lose control of our emotions or find ourselves unable to come up with the right words.

Another is the fear of failure or even the fear of success! The antidote for fear is to know WHO you are and to take an inventory of the behaviors, attitudes and beliefs that absolutely do not serve you.

I often coach my clients in a self assessment and self exploration process to gain clarity about WHO they are before they decide WHAT they want to do. 

Explore the WHO, before the WHAT

7 questions to write down and answer for yourself when you can carve out some quality time to self-reflect and journal.

  1. What are the greatest gifts and talents and attributes that I bring to my work?
  2. How could I make a positive difference and/or contribute to others?
  3. At work, my greatest sense of fulfillment comes from?
  4. In my personal life, my greatest sense of fulfillment comes from?
  5. In my life (professional or personal), what’s the ONE THING I would set out to accomplish, if I knew I absolutely would not fail?
  6. What are my greatest moments of satisfaction, joy and happiness?
  7. The qualities I seek to express in my life are?

Your Mindset

Let’s talk about your mindset. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck was curious why some people in their life thrive – while others flounder. She studied the underpinnings of success and achievement for over four decades. Her major contribution is the distinction between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

So let me ask you…

  • Do you often try new things and push yourself into uncharted territory in your development?
  • Or Do you tend to stick with what you know?

Your answer to these questions reveals your mindset. Let’s explore what these mindsets really mean, why they are important, how to determine which one you have, and how to change our mindsets.

Fixed Mindset

In a fixed mindset, individuals believe they are either born with talent or they’re not. They’re either naturally good at something, or they’re not. They view intelligence as a fixed trait. They believe inborn talent determines success.

Individuals with a growth mindset believe talent comes through effort. They believe anyone can be good at anything; that their abilities can be developed through dedication, perseverance, and the right strategy.

Growth Mindset

Individuals with a fixed mindset seek to validate themselves. Individuals with a growth mindset focus on developing themselves. Although this distinction may seem simple, the implications are enormous.

Individuals who adopt a fixed mindset rarely excel at anything. Because they believe their intelligence and abilities are what they are, they invest their energy in looking smart instead of learning and developing.

In a fixed mindset, if you try something you’ve never done before, say skiing, you’ll likely give up after falling a few times. This “failure” will feel humiliating and you’ll probably avoid ice skating for the rest of your life. You’ll make an excuse like, “Skiing just isn’t my thing.”

If you believe someone is just a “natural born dancer” or that you “just can’t dance,” you’re holding a fixed mindset. With a fixed mindset, you avoid new challenges like the plague because you’re afraid of being judged.

When obstacles arise, you tend to give up quickly. Because you don’t have many references for how humans learn and develop, you feel that putting forth effort is a waste of time. And you secretly feel threatened and envious of the success of others. Ultimately, in a fixed mindset, you don’t have a chance to develop your potential.

It’s incredibly harmful to hold a fixed mindset, to believe intelligence and talent is static. Yet, most of us hold a fixed mindset in multiple areas of our lives.

In a growth mindset, you believe you can develop any ability through dedication and hard work. Because of this belief, you have a desire to learn. This enables you to embrace challenges and persevere when setbacks invariably arise during the learning process.

With a growth mindset, you view effort as an essential ingredient on the path to mastery.

You don’t shy away from effort; you embrace it. And when you see others succeeding on their path to mastery, you find inspiration and lessons to learn for your own development. A growth mindset leads you into an upward spiral of continuing developing, reaching ever-higher levels of personal mastery and achievement.

These self-actualizing individuals have more peak experiences, improved relationships, and greater productivity in their fields of endeavor.

Which Mindset Do You Have?

You can also have a mixed mindset, a combination of the two, although Dweck says people tend to lean toward one or the other. You also have beliefs about your abilities and personal qualities.

How about personality? Are you simply the way you are? Can you change your personality? You can have a growth mindset for intelligence and a fixed mindset for your personality, or vice versa. And in different situations, your mindset can change.

The good news is that you have a choice. “Mindsets are just beliefs,” Dweck explains. “They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.”

Let’s say you identify that you have a fixed mindset in a particular area of your life.

What can you do about it? Dweck has found that just learning about the growth mindset can cause major shifts in how people view themselves and their lives.

Knowing the distinction between growth and fixed mindsets gives you a new choice.

4-Step Process to Change Your Mindset

The key to changing your mindset lies first and foremost in self-awareness. To change your mindset, you have to be able to identify the situations that trigger a fixed mindset and observe when you’re falling into it.

Here are four steps Dweck offers on her website:

STEP 1: Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”Approaching a new challenge, the voice might say, “Are you sure you can do it?” or “What if you fail?” After hitting an obstacle, you might hear, “If only you had talent,” or “I told you it was too risky.”

In the face of criticism, the voice says, “It’s not my fault,” or “Who do they think they are?” Every life and business coach knows about the inner saboteur. It’s the voice that undermines so much of what we do; the inner critic that judges us and our work. The inner saboteur is the fixed mindset.

Once you know you have a fixed mindset, you can anticipate this voice in advance. Then, simply listen inwardly for it.

STEP 2: Recognize that you have a choice. You can interpret these voices in two different ways: Challenges, setbacks, and criticism can be a sign that you have fixed talent and ability. Or, they can be a sign that you need to challenge yourself, step up your effort, change your strategies, and continue to develop.

The former is obviously the fixed mindset; the latter is oriented toward growth. The key here is to shift out of the framework of judgment (fixed) and into the arena of growth.

STEP 3: Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice. As you approach a challenge: The fixed mindset says “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.” The growth mindset answers, “I’m not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn to – with time and effort.”

Fixed mindset: “What if you fail—you’ll be a failure” Growth mindset: “Most successful people had failures along the way.”

As you hit a setback: Fixed mindset: “This would have been a snap if you really had talent.” Growth mindset: “That is so wrong. Basketball wasn’t easy for Michael Jordan and science wasn’t easy for Thomas Edison. They had a passion and put in tons of effort.”

As you face criticism: Fixed mindset: “It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.” Growth mindset: “If I don’t take responsibility, I can’t fix it. Let me listen—however painful it is—and learn whatever I can.”

STEP 4: Take the growth mindset action.

Once you hear the fixed mindset voice and respond to it with a growth mindset, you then determine how to take the necessary action that will lead to growth. This might include taking on a new challenge, learning from setbacks, persisting without exception, adjusting your actions based on feedback, and so on.

Next, let’s look at some strategies to boost your confidence, self-esteem and strengthen your relationships with others.

When we support others the side benefit is we boost our own confidence and self-esteem, as well as strengthen our relationships with others.

14 Specific Things You Can Do to Support Others

  1. Offer to help out a coworker when you have a little spare time.
  2. Keep blank thank-you notes nearby and use them.
  3. Praise people in front of their peers.
  4. Be aware of people’s interests and hobbies. If you see an article or other information about their topic of interest, give it to them.
  5. When one of your coworkers does an exceptional job, send a note of acknowledgment to their boss.
  6. Smile and say hello to everyone with whom you work. That’s everyone!
  7. Go to lunch with someone and give them a full hour of your undivided attention – resist the temptation to talk about yourself.
  8. Continually look for ways to protect and enhance others’ self-esteem.
  9. Leave a voicemail message of appreciation to someone.
  10. Ask for what you need.
  11. When you do experience anger rising, postpone your communication if you think you are going to lose it. Passive folks–you’ll be about to cry. Aggressive people–you’ll be gritting your teeth, clenching your fist and ready to explode. Wait until you’re in total calm control.
  12. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Assume the best intentions.
  13. Never, ever, ever allow yourself to get involved in gossip–even passively as a listener. If you support it in others, you approve it for yourself!
  14. Seek win/win solutions to everything. Hold the belief that what we both want is equally important–not one any more so than the other.

I encourage you to pick just two of these 14 things and do them often. Notice what starts to shift inside of you as do more intentional things to support others. Also, notice how the quality of your relationships starts to improve.

Another common question that my client’s ask is how to get the credit you deserve?

First, make sure you get credit for your contributions at work. This is simply about taking the great impression you’ve made at work and present yourself more confidently by claiming the credit you deserve without bragging or stealing someone else’s thunder.

I think we can all agree that humility is a great characteristic, but at some point, we need to speak up to ensure that our accomplishments and hard work are not going unnoticed. We may also need to find ways to remind others of our contributions, especially when there is evidence that someone else is claiming credit for our work.

6 Ways to Publicly Acknowledge Your Wins

…so that it feels good to you and they are well received by others….

  1. Talk about your accomplishments using very measurable, quantifiable terms to support your statements, such as, “I sold 500 bikes in the fourth quarter.”
  2. Keep handy an ongoing file of all your accomplishments; you can call it your own brag file! Include important documentation of your achievements.
  3. Offer to tackle projects that reflect your skills. “I’d like to take on that job. I’ve had experience with kicking off new projects in a previous job.”
  4. Don’t complain about a difficult situation; instead acknowledge its difficulty and quickly offer a solution.
  5. Make sure to tout your entire team’s contribution to a cause, rather than just your own.
  6. Give praise to others who have helped you shine.

To achieve the growth and rewards we deserve in our career fields, we need to learn how to promote our value without seeming arrogant or insensitive to others’ contributions and most importantly we need to embrace a growth mindset and practice our communication skills to master them.

Tune into the next episode in the Career Advancement Series: “Communicate To Positively Persuade and Influence Others”

Additional Resources