Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring

Presenting Ourselves to Others


You have all of the confidence in the world that you know what to do. And that it “will go well”. Your thinking is sound & accurate. You have the knowledge, experience and background to be “the expert”. Your perception of the problem, issue or situation seems reasonable.

Your are off to a good start.

But what if we don’t present ourselves well to others when trying to apply what we think we understand? When we try to convey and implement what we think might help or work when talking to someone else.

What do I mean by “presenting ourselves”? It simply means how we “come across” to the other person. (We rarely stop and think about this at all during our day.)

Our approach, our patience or lack of it, our insistence, our tone of voice, when we choose to criticize, maybe we talked too much and didn’t let the other person speak much, our silence, our lack of participation, our over participation and insistence to just get to the result we wanted from the start, our lack of listening to things the other person thinks is important at the time ——- all affect how we are perceived and how someone will react to us.

We might be tired or simply worn out or frustrated from other things that filled our day and this might cause us not to present ourselves well at that moment.

For example, think about the difference between these two phrases: Please do it! versus Can you please help me? The first has the tone of being an order even though the person saying it might think that they are being polite, open, and engaging. The second comes across as less of an order and more of a request that is more open ended.

We sometimes confuse wanting to be open and engaging with demanding simply by changing the inflection of our voice with different words in a phrase. As the speaker we may miss this subtle difference. Conversation is just “too fast”.

Other times, we don’t want to listen and don’t work to better understand another person’s thinking. We are in a hurry, we know what we want and we want it done. Our position in relation to the person we are talking to empowers us with the perceived right to demand. Think parent/child. Sometimes warranted (pulling rank to impose discipline or punishment) and other times maybe not so effective in getting a child’s attention.

Presenting ourselves to others and how we are perceived is a very different set of skills from being competent and knowledgeable. Neither one by itself is sufficient. You need both in order to be more effective and engaging with others.

How we present ourselves is very different for each of us. Why? Because we are all human. No two of us are alike. That’s ok but important to remember during all of our interactions.

We tend to forget two things:

1) That how we present ourselves to others will affect how others respond to you. Go in mad and they either also become mad or fearful. Go in insistent and watch someone become defiant. How others perceive you, your conversations and your requests will determine their level of attention ( and engagement) that they will ultimately give you.

(And this could change over time. For better or for worse.)

2) The other person will always see things a little differently than we do. We need to give them the respect they deserve even though their thinking is different and invest the time to learn from each other to find out where you have “common ground”. They need to have some space between you to allow their individuality to “breathe” and become present in your interaction and relationship that evolves through conversation.

You need to consider both when presenting ourselves to others.

It’s as simple as that. Difficult yet possible. If you try to become more aware and present in all of your conversations with others.

Mutual understanding demands some flexibility in order for it to be created. It requires some patience. It may demand some give and take. It more closely resembles traveling on a winding road to ultimately reach a destination that did not seem very clear when you started.

But many times, it is simply the fastest way to get there.

Because none of us are as good as we think all of the time.

Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring


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