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Cartoon: 3 Seemingly Wimpy Actions that Demonstrate StrengthThree Seemingly Wimpy Actions that Demonstrate Strength

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

Do you want to come across as being stronger than you really are? If so, here are three actions you can take that may see weak, but which will actually make you seem like an exceptionally competent, confident and intelligent person.

1. Admit Mistakes and Fix Them if You Can

Most people get too worked up about their own mistakes and will try and hide them or deny them. This usually just makes matters worse. It is better to acknowledge your mistakes and better still to try and fix them.

Imagine a party guest, let us call him Melvin, spills red wine on the carpet, leaving a stain. In scenario A, he walks away, hoping no one notices. But if someone does, and at a party someone doubtless will, she will perceive Melvin as a thoughtless cad and will probably tell others. This does not do Melvin's reputation any good.

In scenario B, Melvin spills wine on the floor. A moment later, someone loudly asks, "Melvin, did you spill some wine?" If Melvin says "no", anyone who saw him will think he is a lying cad. That's even worse than scenario A.

In scenario C, Melvin tries to deflect the blame after someone asks him if he spilled the wine. He might say, "Frank bumped my arm," or "There's something wrong with your glass; it's leaking. You should get better wine glasses." This strategy will not impress anyone.

In scenario D, as soon as Melvin spills his wine, he says to the host, "I am very sorry, I have spilled wine on your carpet. Could you tell me where I can find some soap and a rag so I can clean it before it stains?"

In scenario D, Melvin is honest, admits his mistake immediately and makes an effort to fix it. As a result, he comes across as caring, considerate and a problem solver. After all, most people are not concerned about spilled wine. Rather, they are concerned about the stain it might leave on a carpet. By acknowledging his mistake and fixing it, Melvin impresses his host and anyone who noticed the incident.

2. Appreciate Criticism

No one likes being criticised. As a result, the initial reaction of many is to defend themselves when enduring criticism. While this might provide some short term satisfaction for the recipient of the criticism, it is actually a rather wimpy thing to do.

Imagine you criticise me for talking too quickly during a keynote speech. As a professional speaker, I might be inclined to defend myself: "I speak quickly because I am enthusiastic about creativity -- but as an experienced professional, I know precisely what I am doing and one thing I was certainly not doing was speaking too fast!"

My reply is contemptuous and therefore unlikely to give you a high opinion of me, even if it makes me feel better about myself. Moreover, I have told you that an opinion, which you thought was important enough to share with me, was wrong. That's not nice. From my perspective, I have refused even to consider advice that could help me improve my professional skills -- and that is just stupid. In short, I have made you feel bad and I have missed an opportunity for self-improvement in exchange for short term satisfaction.

Imagine, instead, if I were to respond to your criticism like this: "Thank you for the feedback. I am always looking for ways to improve my public speaking and advice like yours is important to me."  In spite of acknowledging a professional weakness, I enhance my image as a concerned professional. Moreover, I acknowledge your criticism as valuable, which makes you feel good about yourself and about me. On top of all that, I can learn from your criticism and that helps me to improve my professional skills.

Of course, there are people who take pleasure in criticising others and whose criticism is often trivial and unwarranted. When people like that criticise you, they have no interest in your defense. They only wish to feel superior to you. In such cases, I recommend smiling and saying, "Thank you for the feedback." There is no need to enter in to a debate you will never win nor to take their criticism seriously. Nevertheless, it is always wise to be polite, even with fools.

3. Compliment Others Even When You Can Do Better

Imagine you are a best-selling author. At a party, an acquaintance tells you she has had an article published in a popular blog. You could tell her that you have had many articles published in many blogs or that your personal blog is more popular or that ever since you started writing novels, you feel blogs are unimportant. However, any of those replies would be disdainful and reflect poorly on you. Instead, tell her "that's marvellous!" and ask for details about the blog so you can look it up later. Better still, share the post on social media.

If she knows you are a best-selling author, she will treasure your compliment all the more and that will only improve her opinion of you. Better still, she may tell friends about the incident which will further burnish your reputation for being a terrific person.

In fact, get in the habit of complimenting people widely. Everyone loves a compliment and appreciates the one who compliments.

There you have it.  If you make it a habit to acknowledge your mistakes, appreciate criticism and compliment others, you will impress others as confident, competent and strong.


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