Explain Yourself

It’s a simple idea. Just tell me, who you are; what you need; what you want to do. Simple.

The problem is, explaining ourselves, accurately, is incredibly hard to do. We mostly aren’t very clear on who we are, what we need or what we want to do. If we do have some idea, then we still find it difficult to articulate this clearly to others. Just listen to anyone in a job interview, and then observe them in real life. There’s some stuff they forgot to mention.

Often, the more we say, the further from the truth we get. And there’s a really simple reason for that: there is much more to us than simply who we think we are. We all focus on the bit we can see - namely, what we expect of ourselves - and completely miss out the bits that really matter, like how we understand the world around us, how we need to be treated, and what fuels our passion and keeps us engaged.

That’s why teenagers have no idea what to do with their lives, husbands and wives conclude that they come from different planets and business leaders and managers have to worry about retention and engagement, when what they really want to focus on is just executing the mission.

So, what does it take to explain ourselves and what difference does it make?

First we need self awareness and some accurate data that gets below the surface of how we present ourselves. For example, I may describe myself as being very direct and candid, but am I ok if others are very direct and candid back to me? For many, if not most of us, we prefer others to treat us with more sensitivity than we give out. Yet there are some people who need others to be very direct with them; they get very uncomfortable when people fail to come quickly to the point and say just what they mean.

How we behave and what we need are often two very different things. Not understanding this can lead us into all kinds of frustrations and stress reactions. Understanding this enables us to manage ourselves, make our best contribution in situations and reduce our negative stress reactions.

Next, we need to know what energises and motivates us (and what doesn’t!) so we can make choices that align us with those motivations. We may be good at something, or have done well in a particular subject, or learnt a particular skill, but that’s not the same as knowing that we love getting hands on with practical problems, or we love keeping things ordered and running smoothly, or we love helping people, or coming up with new ways of doing things.

How do we find this out about ourselves? Most of you reading this will already have completed your Birkman or expresso so you will know how!

Take Denise; she did her Birkman as a teenager and re-visited her scores through the next few years to keep herself familiar with the insights. A few years later she secured an interview for a good graduate scheme and was able to present herself well and to explain clearly:

  • what she was like
  • what contribution she could make
  • what she needed and preferred from others and her environment
  • what caused her stress and difficulty
  • what motivated her and what drained her, and
  • what she was dreaming of achieving in the longer term

That was impressive for a 25 year old! Needless to say she made an impression and got the job.

Explain yourself. It’s a simple idea, that changes everything!

Click here to download the Explain Yourself worksheet that guides you through your Birkman scores and helps you to explain yourself.