Are you wearing a mask?

September 19, 2011 at 8:19 AM

Two psychologists, Peter Borkenau and Anette Liebler of Bielefeld University in Germany got a stranger to walk into a room, sit behind a desk and read aloud a weather report. The others in the room knew nothing about the guy; he just came into the room and read the report ; they were invited to guess his IQ.

The guy who read the report out was also invited to guess his own IQ. Who do you think was more accurate? Amazingly, the strangers were more accurate than the person guessing their own IQ, not by a little bit, but by a whopping 66%. It can’t have been that the strangers were brilliant evaluators, of course not. It is just that we are all dreadful self-evaluators.

This is particularly surprising when you consider the information the fake Weatherman has to work with – years’ worth of school reports, job evaluations, feedback and so on. The strangers had none.

Those of us in Plus Partnership, who conduct 360° Feedback on hundreds of people we coach every year, are not particular surprised by this. Often, in a corporate environment, we spend a lot of effort trying to feel significant and, in our desire to feel significant, we forfeit expressing our individuality, limit our vulnerability and wear a mask in an attempt to gain greater admiration. In the process we lose touch with what makes us special, we disconnect from authenticity and give up what makes us someone whom others feel they can really connect to.

The irony is that people who strive the hardest to be liked or to impress others often have just the opposite effect.  Most of us have an inbuilt ‘authentic’ detector rings in our heads when we find ourselves in the company of someone who seems to lack it (less graciouslessly, this could be called a b***s**t detector). We can identify insincerity, inauthenticity, and practiced charm a mile away. Our innate ability to sense incongruence extends beyond anything we can really explain. We just know that the person we are with is hiding some aspect of who they are, limiting our desire and/or ability to develop a stronger relationship with them. That is of course that we aren't totally preoccupied with our own masquerade...which can so easily happen.

I know how easy it can happen because I know how often I catch myself focused more on "What will people think?" instead of "What feels true?"

The irony is that the less we strive to get people to like us, the more they actually do. In a world that has so much focus on the superficial, people crave authenticity, yearn for 'realness,' and can't help but find themselves seeking the company of those who are comfortable in their own skin. And if you are someone who is in a position of leadership, authenticity makes you so much more approachable, trusted and influential. People trust people who can share their struggles, their doubts, their fears, their hopes and their heartaches; people who don't need to prove their superiority, their success or their significance in any way.

We often talk to our clients about being authentic and the impact it will have on their leadership/management. The fact is that people are much better at evaluating us than we are at evaluating ourselves, so there’s really little point in putting the mask on – be yourself.

 



Tags: Executive Coaching Leadership Skills
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Posted by Adonica on
Keep on writing and cghuging away!
Posted by Mario on
Because most women who are really good lnikoog and hot don’t have to go to work to make money. They can use their good looks to get married to wealthy men who pay their way. That's how it works today here in America.The fugly women are successful because they actually have to work to make money. So they’re successful to make up for their ugliness.This may sound really mean and crude, but it's the way things are in America. Sad, but true.Women try to get with the weathiest men and men try to get with the most attractive women.
Posted by Desi on
Hi Michael:I am a fellow coach and woendr if you could give me some feedback. I have been struggling with the niche concept and am considering working with young professionals via their organizations in the areas of confidence, communication, etc. So here's my big question: Is there business in that area?Thanks for your feedback!Gerri Ratigan
Posted by Desi on
Hi Michael:I am a fellow coach and woendr if you could give me some feedback. I have been struggling with the niche concept and am considering working with young professionals via their organizations in the areas of confidence, communication, etc. So here's my big question: Is there business in that area?Thanks for your feedback!Gerri Ratigan
Posted by Desi on
Hi Michael:I am a fellow coach and woendr if you could give me some feedback. I have been struggling with the niche concept and am considering working with young professionals via their organizations in the areas of confidence, communication, etc. So here's my big question: Is there business in that area?Thanks for your feedback!Gerri Ratigan
Posted by Jaclyn on
It's great to read something that's both enjoyable and provides prtasgaimdc solutions.
Posted by Jaclyn on
It's great to read something that's both enjoyable and provides prtasgaimdc solutions.
Posted by Jaclyn on
It's great to read something that's both enjoyable and provides prtasgaimdc solutions.
Posted by Kenisha on
That's really shewdr! Good to see the logic set out so well.
Posted by Kenisha on
That's really shewdr! Good to see the logic set out so well.
Posted by Kenisha on
That's really shewdr! Good to see the logic set out so well.
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