What separates high performers from the average people, at least externally? We know that high performers have good subject matter expertise, a skill that is learned and earned over time. But there is something else that is visible more often than this – social skills. Irrespective of the level of subject matter expertise, people are considered high performers in social situations if they can demonstrate social skills like confidence, leadership, persuasion, positive optimism and genuine enthusiasm in achieving things.
Most of us assume that social skills are gifted and cannot be learned. Understanding that social skills can be learned, practiced and improved over time is a paradigm shift in my thinking. It is possible to learn and consistently demonstrate such competency triggers in our workplace and outside.
Each one of us is good at something that comes out naturally under certain social situations. Observe yourself – when and under what social situations you demonstrate high competence triggers that high performers seemingly demonstrate all the time. Let’s say you are talking about something while you are surrounded by people lower in social status than you. How do you feel about it – confident and enthusiastic to convey your point across to the people around you? You may feel jittery if you are asked to do the same thing when your boss is around.
Why do we feel less confident when we are surrounded by people of higher social status than us? Why high performers demonstrate confidence seemingly in all situations?
Because you have not learned and automated your high competence triggers. High performers display behaviors that subtly identify them as such, consistently. They use certain phrases and practices often unconsciously.
So, how do I internalize high competence triggers and habitually demonstrate them? Simple! Act like a high performer. It looks counter intuitive, but it works beautifully over time. Yes, from this very moment, you are going to act like a high performer.
To begin your transformative moment now, I suggest you watch the 2012 TED video titled, ‘Your body language shapes who you are’ by Amy Cuddy. It is one of the top 10 TED videos so far. I think it would be a magic bullet for you to start believing that you can ‘fake’ and actually ‘become’ what you want to become.
Amy’s findings in this decade are the culmination of multiple research studies in this field over the last 100 years. People have talked about positive thinking before Napoleon Hill published his book, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ in 1937. Many people have shown the benefits of positive thinking on mind and overall well-being. However, applying this principle to a specific outcome, observing yourself, testing what approach works for you and adopting it is the key for reaping true benefit out of this idea.
When I experimented with adopting high competence triggers, I found that it was taking a long time for me to find any noticeable result. I have seen people getting demotivated in the process and leaving it. I tested different approaches to accelerate this process. One of the key things that worked for me is observing myself in social situations and assessing myself. I recorded a video of myself while speaking in front of my laptop webcam. I choose a topic of my interest and spoke for 5 minutes. That video revealed so much about my body language – like I was not smiling enough, how many times I used non-words, how absurd my pauses were etc. Later on I started analyzing my public speaking videos. Had I not done this, I would have taken long time to know what I need to monitor about myself and correct or I could not have found them at all.
Observing yourself and being brutally honest with your findings help you in internalizing high competence triggers quickly.
In order to build high competence triggers at workplace and outside, you need to first act like a high performer. And you can speed up this process by deliberately observing yourself in social and personal situations and correcting inappropriate behaviors consistently.
Have you thought of adopting any competence triggers? How did you approach it?