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Faith WoodWe detect the confidence of others automatically, whether we think we’re perceptive or not.

Confidence is conveyed in words, posture, voice tone and gestures.

Whenever we communicate with others, our minds are watching for mismatches – alerting us to a person’s lack of sincerity.

This can spell disaster when we’re interviewing for a new job or trying to sell our products and services.

All people show and tell their inner dialogue. If we don’t believe the fabulous things we say about ourselves, neither will anyone else. This can put our hopes and desires in real conflict.

To portray greater confidence when expressing your strengths and weaknesses to a prospect, you first must realize that an attribute is only a strength or weakness in relation to a specific purpose. Your characteristics are only good or bad when viewed from a certain perspective.

So you can make life easier for yourself by focusing on your characteristics and skills, allowing other people to determine for themselves which skills are useful for the job and which aren’t.

Humans don’t come with an options list like a car. You can’t order a new marketing manager with drive, determination and alloy wheels, and delete the perfectionism and impatience. Think of humans as balanced systems. Every element is there for a reason and is part of the bigger system.

Imagine that you’re interviewing for a new role or job and the interviewers ask you that big question: “How would you describe your strengths and weaknesses?”

No one ever quite knows how to answer. Our brains engage in a real wrestling match over how best to respond. Obviously, you don’t want to talk about your weaknesses in case you don’t get the job. So you say, “Sometimes I work too hard.” On the other hand, you can hear your parents’ voices telling you not to show off, so you feel guilty about mentioning your strengths.

This interview question has nothing to do with strengths and weaknesses. It’s about how you answer the question, about how honest you are with yourself.

Let’s have a look at some strengths and weaknesses, so you can see how this is a matter of perspective:

Strengths: driven, strong-willed, focused, team player

Weaknesses: impatient, bullish, narrow-minded, nosey

So instead of worrying about your strengths and weaknesses, first think about what your defining characteristics are.

Create two lists on a piece of paper, like this:

Things I like about myself: motivated

Things I don’t like about myself: hold grudges, easily distracted

When you’ve done that, take a break. Later, look at it more objectively. Imagine your best friend has written the list. For each strength, write the corresponding weakness, and for each weakness, write the corresponding strength.

Things I like about myself (strengths): motivated, good memory, good at multi-tasking

Things I don’t like about myself (weaknesses): pushy, hold grudges, easily distracted

So now you can think of your attributes as either strengths or weaknesses, depending on how you want those traits to be perceived by others.

To know yourself, you must first accept yourself. The strengths, weaknesses, lovable traits, flaws, good side and bad side. These are all the bits that make you unique and capable. And being competent in certain areas will breed confidence into you.

When you’re more comfortable with all of your innate traits, and you realize how they work for or against you depending on the situation, you’ll be in a much better position to portray confidence when asked to describe your strengths and weaknesses.

Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. 

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