How to Be a Standout

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I recently participated in a college application workshop for high school juniors. At one point I asked for a show of hands as to who looked forward to applying to college. Out of fifty students, no one raised their hand. Then I asked how many were nervous. Fifty hands shot up! Their driving fear could be reduced to: “I don’t want to be judged” and its flip side, “I don’t want to be rejected.”

I later told this story at dinner and of the six people at the table (aged 27-49), no one said that they’d been excited to apply to college. Each shared stories of how they didn’t enjoy revealing so much about themselves to strangers. Yep, they didn’t like being judged.

Back in 2009, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates met with students from Columbia Business School for an event that aired on CNBC. While they offered advice on an array of topics, none was simpler than when Buffett said: “You will increase your value by half a million dollars if you just learn how to communicate at work … business is being able to close a deal and sell a deal and build relationships.”

Buffett honed in on the truest of truths — the world works because of relationships. And relationships are grounded in quality communication.

Which brings us to interviews — in person, by phone, or by video. An interview is another opportunity to present yourself, to tell something of your story to people who are interested in you.

When you think about interviewing, what is your #1 fear? Is it that you’ll be judged?

I understand the whole “I don’t like being judged” thing. And truth be told, it’s a fear that I, too, have confronted many times in countless situations. What I have also learned, though, is that a huge part of respecting myself is being willing to recognize and “own” what makes me “me.” What makes me unique and interesting to be around.

This isn’t being arrogant; it’s simply laying claim to the experiences that have helped to shape me.

I coach business professionals in their communication skills. So many, too many, people are awkward and self-conscious and fumbling talking about their ideas and about themselves. They’re afraid to distinguish themselves. They’re afraid to stand out and shine. They’re afraid of being judged.

But, an interview, every interview, everywhere, with everyone, is an opportunity for you to practice speaking on your own behalf. Engaging people with your ideas and insights.

Trust me — you’re more interesting than you can imagine! Don’t be intimidated by an interview. Welcome it as both an opportunity and a challenge. This is how you’ll learn to be a genuine standout!

Please send your questions to JP Reynolds at: jp@jpr-communications.com
Follow me on Twitter: @jprweddings

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