Whenever I conduct a Style Consultation, I always start with one easy question: “How do you want the world to see you?”
The question may be simple, but the answers are hard.
Rarely, very rarely, I get an immediate response: “I want to be seen as dynamic and powerful. I don’t suffer fools and I want everyone to know that!”
Well – okay then…
One delightful gentleman grinned at me. “I’m a maverick,” he said. “But that’s why they hired me.”
These instant answers are, however, rare.
More usually, there is a hesitant, “Well, I don’t want to be…” and I cut them off; kindly but firmly. “I don’t want to know what you don’t want to be,” I say. Tell me who you are. Tell me the good things about you. Tell me what you’d like people to see. And be honest.”
And so, it begins.
“I like to think I’m kind. I hope I’m approachable. I’ll help anyone in need.”
This process of finding out takes an hour and sometimes more. I ask them what kind of friend they are; do they give sympathy or straight talking? Are they the one people turn to for ideas? Do they organise everything and always turn up on time? When someone they care about hurts, do they hurt too? Are they fun-loving? Are they a deep thinker?
At the end, I have a flipchart page full of words that describe this person - and they are all positive words.
These are the words of a recent client:
Relaxed (but not too much)
After I had finished writing all these on the chart, I put my pen down and waited.
She looked at the words for a moment and then her eyes welled with tears. “I never realised before how lovely I am,” she said. “Maybe I like myself after all.”
I think we all give ourselves a hard time for not being all the things we think we should be and fail to acknowledge all that is wonderful about us. We use negatives instead of positives and think that to dwell on our better attributes is somehow egotistical.
I can say, “I am a loyal friend,” and all my friends will agree – especially those who count that friendship in decades. I can acknowledge that I am creative and hardworking, tenacious and focussed.
Yes, I could choose to dwell on the “disorganised” and “forgetful” aspects of who I am, but what is the point? Does it help my mental health?
My challenge to you is to come up with your own list of words to describe yourself. Don’t be shy and, please, post your answers in the comments.
You will, almost certainly, like the person you describe.
And while you may not be dynamic and powerful, I am often a fool, and should infinitely prefer that you suffer me gladly.
A Moodscope member.