It Pays To Be Yourself

It Pays To Be Yourself

Whether trying to land a new job, new deal or client, we often focus on making a good initial impression on people, especially when they don’t know us well or the stakes are high. One strategy we often use is to cater to the interests, preferences, and expectations of the person we want to impress. Most people believe this is a more promising strategy than being themselves and use it in high stakes interpersonal first meetings. But research #harvardbusinessschool found these beliefs are wrong.

Confirming that catering to others’ interests and expectations is quite common. Over 450 adults were asked to imagine they were about to have an important professional interaction such as interviewing for their dream job, conducting a valuable negotiation for their company, pitching an entrepreneurial idea to investors, or making a presentation to a client. 66% indicated they would use catering techniques, rather than simply being themselves; 71% believed that catering would be the most effective approach. The study found that this was much less effective than being yourself, finding that when genuine in their pitches, they were more than 3x as likely to be successful.

Why? First, when we cater, we intentionally minimise our own interests and preferences in favour of those of others. And when we try hard to hide what we’re doing and who we really are from the person we are trying to impress, it’s cognitively and emotionally draining, which, in turn, undermines our performance. Second, since we can’t know the preferences and expectations of others with certainty, no matter how much research we’ve done, it heightens our anxiety and makes us feel and come across as phony. All this hurts our performance: those who behave authentically are 26% more likely to be successful.

Making a positive impression can mean the difference between landing and not landing a good deal or client. Contrary to our intuition, simply being yourself makes a better impression than catering to another person’s interests and expectations. It not only feels better; it also improves the likelihood that you will achieve your goal.

If you're struggling to be or find your authentic self and would like to take your business or career to new heights, I want to work with you. 

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P.S. I know not all my readers are women, so do please share with the women in your, team, business or life who you think may be interested :-)