Always Start With Your Best Foot Forward

Pride is taking less than you need.
Khalil Gibran
We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we live in a narcissist society. People constantly post how awesome their lives are in FB, upload selfie after selfie in a desperate need for likes, and post comments on every social post in a need to feel heard. There is a rather interesting irony to all of this need for attention and recognition. Of all the questions and posts people make, there is one that challenges more than any other, one that even the most confident person seems to have problems answering, and yet it’s one of the most common within our social interaction.

Tell me about yourself.

We have become so self-conscious about not sounding arrogant and about being humble that we tend to sell ourselves short or act humble for narcissistic reasons. Other times we use the “start weak / end strong” strategy that works great in conflict situations. This stratagem doesn’t quite work in a non-conflict environment. Let’s look at both cases.

I want you to consider two things about what you are doing when selling yourself short when being humble of whom you are. The first to review is the reason why you are doing this. If you are good at something, stating it is nothing more than stating a truth. Note that I am not talking about ramping up your self-importance, but why do you feel you must hide the matter-of-fact aspects? The problem is that we are made to feel ashamed of success, or at least not to be proud of it. Are you doing it because you are ashamed of your success or of what you have achieved? Are you actually being humble or are you just selling the idea of being humble? Are you selling it to others? Or worse, to yourself?

The other aspect is the “start weak / end strong” tactic. This works great in a prolonged conflict situation where you can take advantage of the miscommunication. You start out weak, giving yourself time to better read your opponent while at the same time causes your opponent to underestimate you. In this kind of interaction, this strategy works great. The problem is that this one doesn’t work well at all when you want to create a positive impression on a person.

When you meet someone, you start creating a frame over which you define a picture of the person. This foundation establishes the base idea, your initial opinion of the person. To avoid giving an impression of arrogance, people tend to avoid starting with the positive aspects of themselves, or if they do, these aspects are down played. The logic is that the person will later realize just how good of a person you really are when they get to know you better.

Remember that you have to consider the other participant of the conversation. If you start off explaining the negative aspects of who you are, THAT will be the foundation they will use to define you. Everything else you state after that will be based over that negative view that YOU created for them. Interestingly enough, after the base frame is created in a person’s head, a lot of what you say afterwards is simply static noise, so whatever positive elements you dish out are lost.

That being said, you should start with the positive aspects of yourself. If you know who you are and what you are worth, you should have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. This will create a positive frame though which the person will view you. And you are doing this by being honest about yourself. You can follow up with the not so positive elements, mostly for disclosure purposes. Keep in mind that if you are a good person, successful in what you do, and honorable in your character; it has been because of a conscious effort and hard work. This is something you should never be ashamed of.