Do you allow yourself to be intimidated?
So often we make assumptions about other people that are simply untrue. We think they are “above” us; that they don’t like us; or that they look down on us. All of these thoughts are based on assumptions that we don’t validate, and all of these assumptions get in the way of us engaging with them confidently and even creating relationships that could ultimately benefit us (and them.)
Over the years, I’ve found that at all levels of society and business, people make false assumptions of what others are thinking, projecting on to them their insecurities and fears. I’ve seen many people held back in their careers because they are afraid to approach or engage with people more senior to them, for no other reason than they are initimidated by their rank or status. We bring prejudices and false beliefs into our interactions with people (based on everything from the color of their skin or where they went to school, to the title on their business card) that alienate us from them and prevents us from building a relationship with them. Living with assumptions that others “are better than us”, that “they haven’t got time for the likes of us” or that “I’m just not good enough” can be very costly – to our careers, our relationships and our happiness over all.
Of course, being the ‘human becoming’ that I am, occasionally I still find myself intimidated by people who’ve accomplished success on levels far beyond what I have. But I’ve become better at catching myself in the process of making up these “stories”, acknowledging the self-doubt and fear behind them, and then reaching out (sometimes with butterflies in my belly) to make a connection anyway. Having met many people, from all walks of life, and all “levels” of social status, I know that our lives are enriched just as much when we connect with people who are we deem as “different” to us, as when we connect with those we feel we’ve more in common with.
I’m guessing sometimes you may find yourself intimidated by people based on their seniority in your organization or some other marker of success. Which is why I invite you to a little experiment: Next time you find yourself assuming something about another person that causes you to feel intimidated, make a conscious decision to put aside those assumptions, give up what you “think they think”, and reach out to them in conversation as a human being who is no less than, nor better than, anyone else. My guess is that the experience will only reinforce the universal truththat Iwrote about in Find Your Courage, that we human beings are all far more alike than we are different.
Until next time, live boldly and never doubt your value. No-one can initimidate you without your permission.