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Arguing on behalf of your weaknesses

You’re invited to do something a bit beyond your comfort zone. Run a workshop. Speak at a networking event. Apply for a promotional role. Write a guest post on a blog. Play the piano at your nieces’s graduation. Or whatever it is that both terrifies and excites you at the same time.

What’s your first response to the invitation?

Has it ever been something like this? ‘Are you joking? Me? I’d never be good enough for that. I’d totally blow it and be an embarrasment to all of us.’

And then have you ever continued arguing on behalf of your weaknesses with a monologue of all the reasons why you’d be such a bad choice for the task?

You may not have confidence in your ability to do whatever has been suggested, but the person who proposed it, obviously saw some potential in you. Argue on behalf of your weaknesses long enough and others will see you only through your weaknesses and not the strengths that led them to extend the invitation in the first place.

People who regularly respond with attention-seeking false humility,  victim-mode  or ‘fishing for compliments’ critiques of themselves often find opportunities diminishing. They send out draining energy that screams ‘make me feel good about myself, tell me I’m good, I need to be propped up.’ They become known for being high maintenance, loaded with baggage and time wasters. Few people will stick around to be their baggage handlers!

Alternatively, responding with phrases like: ‘It sounds great. Been dying for that opportunity. I haven’t had a lot of experience in that area so my confidence is a bit shaky. What do you think I’d be able to bring to the job/gig/role etc.?’  express enthusiasm, interest and a confident, honest concern about your abilities. A vibe that says ‘I’d like to discuss this and see if there are ways I can fill the gaps-and I’ll take responsibility for them.’

The next time you’re approached about doing something beyond your comfort zone that terrifies and excites you at the same time- consider the following before letting those seeds of doubt take root:

  • Think first about the unique strengths and skills you can bring to the situation.
  • Ask yourself if part of your lack of confidence comes from fear of failure.
  • If you do ‘fail’ what is the worst that can happen? (hint: usually never as bad as we fear)
  • Honestly asses your perceived ability gaps. Are they critical to the success of the role?
  • Are you being too much of a perfectionist or are your concerns legitimate?

It’s not easy to find that elusive balance between humility, confidence and an honest assessment of your abilities. It takes practice and a bit of trial and error. Once you’ve mastered the art of doing this in a way that is true to you and your personality, you’ll find it comes naturally.

‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ Neale Donald Walsh

Published inBlogFearless Living

2 Comments

  1. This happened to me last year. A friend of mine needed help with a website for her boss, she asked my opinion of the site over coffee, and I gave her plenty of advice on how she could make it better. Then later, she came to me saying that she’d talked her boss into getting outside help and they wanted me to build the website.

    I came up with a million reasons why they should get someone with more experience, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. She said that our earlier conversation convinced her that I knew more than I thought I did. In the end I built the website and now it’s something I’m very proud of.

    I don’t think it’s always false modesty, but more about not realising that one’s own abilities might be good enough to meet the expectations of others. When it comes down to it, sometimes people don’t want high-priced experts, they just want someone who knows more about it than they do.

    • Linda Chaousis Linda Chaousis

      I agree, Shelly that often it is a lack of belief in our own skills and afraid of falling short of expectations. I can imagine you must have felt so good to have said ‘yes’ in the end and then build a site you are proud of. It’s such a good reminder of going beyond our comfort zone and the fact that most times, it is a rewarding experience.

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