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When you say something about yourself, people will instantly believe you.   The stories we tell about ourselves profoundly impact how others see us.  Remember the last time someone asked how your day has been going:  What words came out of your mouth next?

What about when you were casually talking about yourself to friends or colleagues?  Did you say something positive or negative?  Empowering or limiting?

Remembering that we control the story we tell about ourselves is important.  Because whenever we declare something about ourselves, the person listening instantly assumes it to be true.  After all, we are the ones who said it. So If you say, “I am so disorganized, “ other people will think of you as someone who lacks organization.

Here are things I have heard people say about themselves.  If I’m honest, I have said some of them myself.  Have you said any of these?
  • I am disorganized 

  • I am so busy

  • I’m not creative

  • I’m not artistic

  • I’m afraid to speak in public

  • I am not an athlete

  • I am not a leader

  • I could never do that

  • I’m not a technical person.

  • I can never keep up with everything on my list.

  • I have always been a little slow to learn something new.

  • I’m just not good at doing [the thing].

  • I’m not a good communicator.

  • I’m not the kind of person that can let that go.

  • I could never change that about my personality.

Many of us do this to come across as humble.

There is a way to be humble without cutting yourself down.  Let’s learn how.

If you want to present yourself in a way that comes across as positive without coming across as fake or bragging, then you’ll want to talk about your limitations in a way that implies hope.   

Step 1: Remove “I am”

Remove “I am” from the equation.  You are not equal to a limitation. You are not the makeup of them.  If you have a disorganized moment, it does not mean YOU ARE disorganized.  You are human, and humans have moments. 

Humans can learn and improve.  So, no more “I am”.
  • “I am disorganized”  will turn into “That was a bit disorganized so I’m taking time to put it right”

  • Turn “I am so busy.” into “I have filled my calendar this week.”

  • “I’m not creative” will become “I haven’t seen the creativity of this yet.””I’m not artistic”.  changes to “I don’t typically choose artistic projects”

  • ….you get the idea.

  • How would you change “I’m just not a technical person.”?    Here’s an option, “Technical concepts have been a challenge for me sometimes.”

Do you see how removing “I am” opens up the possibility of improvement and adds hope?

Step 2: Eliminate absolutes

The next step is to look for and eliminate absolutes like “always” and “never”.  Absolute statements imply that you are not open to or even hopeful that things can improve for you.  The truth is that no one is “always” anything, and unless you can see the future, you cannot know that something is a “never.”  

So turn “I could never do that” into “I haven’t tried that before.  I’m not sure I want to”

Change “I have always been a little slow to learn something new.” into “I like to take my time learning because I like to get it right. “

“I could never change that about my personality” becomes “I have longstanding habits that I’m working on changing”

Do you see the difference?

Step 3: Practice

    Grab a notebook and divide a sheet of paper into two columns.  In the first column, write a list of the things you usually say about yourself.  Go back and look at them.  Say each one out loud the way you would in conversation.  What kind of tone comes naturally?  Do you like the impression they create?

    Next, go back to the second column and make adjustments.  Ensure

    the statements are still authentic to you but eliminate “I am” and remove the absolutes.  Take your time with this and develop new things you want to say going forward.  Once again, say them out loud to yourself so you can hear the natural tone of the new statements.  The last step is making these changes during conversation and start to be more careful about the stories you tell about yourself.  Remember that when YOU say it about you, the person you are talking to will instantly assume it is 100% true.  So, start to catch yourself using “I am,” “always,” and “never,” and practice replacing them in real-time.  Eventually, it will start to become natural for you.  I promise you’ll be making a better impression while still coming across as the true and humble person you are.

    Remember, you are in control of what you say.

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