“Low self esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on.”
— Maxwell Max —
If you don’t want to drive through life with your hand brake on, here are 8 tips on how to build your self-esteem:
1. Hang out with people who have high self-esteem. Listen to how they talk about themselves. Watch how they interact with others. Model their behaviours.
2. Turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk. In preparing for an upcoming presentation, you may think: “I’m going to get shot down.” Transform this into: “This is a great learning opportunity.”
3. Ask others for feedback. Make sure they give you some kudos. When you get constructive feedback, don’t take it as a slight (you did ask after all!). Look for the gift card. We all have “lesser strengths”, so hone in on new behaviours you need to adopt.
4. Ask for help. Rather than beating yourself up because you’re drowning in admin work or you can’t turn on a dime for someone, ask a respected peer how they handle similar challenges.
5. Set realistic goals. Stop comparing yourself to others. What’s achievable for you? When you achieve your goals, reward yourself.
6. Take accountability for your actions. Stop blaming your parents, your siblings or the boss from hell three jobs ago. As an adult, what you do and how you feel is your responsibility.
7. Stick to the Golden Rule. By treating others the way you want to be treated, for example, with caring and respect, they will respond in a like fashion. This will build your self-esteem.
8. Build your self-awareness and your self-knowledge. Do an inventory of your skills and strengths. Write down your personal and work accomplishments in the past month or so. Maybe you started a fitness program and stuck to it or you coached a peer at work. Look for your successes.
How engaged are you?
Engagement refers to your loyalty, passion and commitment to your work. It is apparent in the extra effort you make to meet the needs of your colleagues and customers.
Candidly answer these 7 questions: Never, Sometimes or Often?
- I recommend my employer to others as a good place to work.
- I feel that I’m working to my potential in this job.
- I’m thinking of leaving my job.
- I put in an effort over and above what is expected of me.
- I always speak positively about my employer.
- I am committed to helping my employer achieve its business goals.
- I enjoy helping others in their work in my organization.
If you don’t have 7 “Oftens”, you would benefit from some career coaching.
As a leader, it is also useful to consider how your employees would answer these questions.
What impact do you have on their engagement? It’s up to you! Your leadership excellence is the most critical factor in creating employee engagement.
Specifically, how you:
- set direction
- build trust
- foster accountability
- provide growth opportunities
- communicate about the good, bad and ugly
- reward your staff.
Engaged employees. Employees who are loyal, productive and satisfied. When you foster a culture of engagement, both you and your employees will be more successful.
In a recent Coaching for Results workshop, a senior leader complained that he had done everything right in coaching his employee: he assessed her performance against pre-agreed expectations; asked his employee for her views; gave timely, constructive feedback; and collaboratively developed a plan to move forward. Yet the employee’s performance continued to falter.
This was my cue to ask about their relationship and especially about the extent to which they trusted and respected each other. George (as I will call him) looked puzzled. I turned to the rest of the group and asked how many agree with the statement: “Without trust there can be no coaching”? (from “The Leader as Coach” by David B. Peterson and Mary Dee Hicks). All 21 participants quickly agreed that it was a true statement.
Trust is a critical competency for everyone in business today. In the recent book “Smart Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey, Greg Link and Rebecca R. Merrill, the authors present a compelling “business case for trust”.
How can we build more trusting relationships with those around us?
Here are 5 tips:
- Show confidence in others’ skills and in their potential to grow and develop.
- Be open, honest and direct, especially when the going gets tough.
- Do what you say you will do: walk the talk.
- Respect confidences.
- Reveal your vulnerability: admit your mistakes and shortcomings.
As for “George”, he cited our discussion as a game-changing moment and publicly committed to stopping two behaviours that undermined his trustworthiness.
My last blog “Difficult Conversations – 5 Tips” struck a chord, loud and clear; many of you asked for more guidance. It seems that we all struggle when we’re in the eye of the storm, and most of us aren’t sure how to defuse challenging emotions during those tough moments.
This time, let’s look at the flip side and explore guaranteed ways to escalate conflicts and create even more angst for everyone involved.
7 Sure-Fire Ways to Escalate Emotions:
- Withdraw from the conversation. Maybe the conflict will resolve itself.
- Resort to email. Unless you use emoticons or upper case, it’s all neutral, right?
- Don’t listen. Interrupt and at all costs, avoid eye contact.
- Disrespect their position. Be sure to use the old standby: “I’m sorry that you feel this way, but….”
- Patronize: “Calm down.” “Take a deep breath.”
- Try a direct attack: “You’re always defensive.” “You need to be a team player.”
- Drag in other issues or people. “No one else other than you seems to be upset about this issue.”
Emotions – especially frustration, negativity and anger – are contagious. Your efforts to stay grounded and objective will help everyone stay calm. Above all, listen, listen, listen!