Ask Esther…Bronx girl in London

Ask Esther

Esther Stanhope is international speaker and communications expert.

A former BBC producer she’s rubbed shoulders with the likes of Madonna, George Clooney, Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

She now helps talented people in business, like you to speak up in meetings and conferences, get their voice heard and radiate charisma, confidence, gravitas and credibity.

If you have any questions for Esther about the way you come across at work, as a leader or when you’re chairing a meeting, fire away. Ask anything.

Email: [email protected]


Dear Esther,

“They Hate me Because I’m a Loud American”

I feel totally deflated and unappreciated in my job in London. Ok I work in compliance for a major bank and no one likes compliance (police) people!  However, my own team seem to really hate me.  I think they think I’m too;

  • Loud
  • Obnoxious (I’m from the Bronx, New York originally)
  • Not organised enough with planning
  • Irritating
  • Too detail focussed
  • Chatty – I often talk for too long with no real point

I’m the first person in my family to go to college and I’m extremely bright, yet my life skills seem to suck. I often play the ditzy blond in order to cover up my intellect, so people don’t hate me for knowing more than them.

I wish I could be myself and be liked.  At the moment I feel I have to hide who I am, scared because whatever I try it doesn’t seem to work.

My boss is a quiet, perfect looking gym guy and very neat.  I am the opposite and I think he literally doesn’t know how to communicate with me.

Help, I am dreadfully unhappy yet this, on paper, is the perfect job for me.

Answer

Hey, you are a breath of fresh air, bright, sparky, talented, extrovert and yes, American. If you’re from the Bronx, you will have a certain ‘edge’ to you…..fantastic. You’ve got a great set of tools in your toolkit.  We need to find out which ones to sharpen and how best you can use them!

It’s all very well for me to convince you to ‘be yourself’ – as Oscar Wilde famously said

“Be Yourself, everyone else is already taken!”

However, when your boss and the people who influence your career are literally the polar opposite to you, you feel like you can’t be your true self in fear of irritating them.

First of all, you are not alone, I too find myself ‘irritating’ people because of my ability to talk at 100 miles per hour and sometime (confession) I can over-share.  Some introverted personality types can find extroverts “Too Much”.  My husband is an introvert and we’ve learnt how to ‘handle’ each other after 20 years! Now we take each others’ personality types into consideration and it works.

However, here’s the thing.   As Albert Einstein wrote…

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”

I felt like that poor fish for a lot of my life.

In other words, you are a genius, you have strengths and weaknesses like everyone else. You strengths lie in communicating with impact, being out spoken, coming across as confident and ‘loud’. That’s your talent and it’s a valuable talent in business because you are get the crowd going, you can move people to act, you can influence and bring people on a journey with you.

My advice.  DO NOT hide your talent under a bushel.  Yes, think about your audience and what they need.

If they don’t need detail, DON’T give them detail.  If they prefer less loud, then don’t shout but DO NOT apologise for being YOU.

Being from the Bronx is part of your ‘personal brand’. It’s an asset, not a flaw.

It sounds like your boss is a little bit afraid of you.  So here are my top 3 practical tips you can try over the next week…

Less is More

Have a short and punchy ‘top line’ when you’re communicating with your boss – don’t waffle.

For example “The 2019 budget needs work” (pause) “Would you like to go through the big issues now or later? “

Or pick your top two most important points and ask which ONE they’d like to talk about.

Only go into detail if asked.

Warmth and Humour

Smile and relax.  Being warm and generous makes it much easier for others to engage with you.  If you are paranoid about being liked or trying to be liked, you could be in danger of looking desperate or too much of a people pleaser. If you look relaxed, smiley and confident you look like you are in control, happy, enjoying yourself and not struggling. (Smile even if you are dying inside).

A smile is a shortcut to confidence because it tricks your brain into thinking “Oh I must be happy” then guess what? You start feeling happy. When you’re happy, you are more confident.

Be Yourself – the #Bronx-Brit and don’t be ashamed

Never apologise about who you are or where you are from. Celebrate it. If you sense people find you abrasive and direct, let them know YOU know that’s what they might be feeling.  The tip here is to acknowledge the audience’s feeling.

For example, if your answer is un-subtle “that’s a big fat NO then!” and you feel the stiff upper lip boss finds it grating, you could say.  “That’s the Bronx in me, we like to be direct, that probably translates to …maybe not, thank you very much”.

Do it with humour and generosity, never with a hint of bitchiness or sarcasm.

Yes, there’s a fine line between patronising and fun humour, however it’s really important to be warm, humourous, relaxed and easy-going. If you start becoming defensive, worried or scared about what people think of you, you won’t gain the respect of your team.

Another client of mine recently confessed she was worried about being herself in meetings because she thought people might think she’s a bit goofy!  We realised her true self was a good version of goofy!  She had a real sense of fun and playfulness and that’s why she got on so well with clients.

However, in the boardroom in front of senior people she stopped herself being ‘goofy’ so she wasn’t being recognised for any of her talents.  She was more or less invisible in the boardroom.

Is my message ‘be goofy’?   Well, for that client, yes, she was much more successful when she let herself be herself. And he got a promotion when she started being her more goofy self and less afraid.

For you, don’t hold back, be bold from the Bronx, smile, have fun and don’t apologise – go for it.

Successful people have a strong sense of self.  You have a strong character, so enjoy it, play with it.

Ask Esther … letters

I would LOVE to hear your confidence, communication and career dilemmas at work. Please do CONTACT ME [email protected] with your questions about how you come across to your audiences; your boss, clients and colleagues.  Do you captivate your audience in a meeting?  Do you know how to influence the ego? I can help.

Tell me your stories and I’ll give you some game changing free advice and more.

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