Monthly Archives: June 2013

How to Be More Popular than the President of France

I read recently that Francois Hollande, the President of France, after only one year in office, is now the most unpopular French President ever with a 75% disapproval rating.

Think about it, in a country of 65 million people, Hollande is now only approved of by 1 in 4 of the population. It just goes to show that no matter now much power, wealth or success someone has they still cannot please everyone, they still will not be liked and approved of by everyone. Even someone who just one year ago was elected president of his country cannot count on sustaining his popularity. There is an important lesson in this for all of us.

What can you do to be more popular?

When it comes down to it, a few simple approaches help enormously when you want to be liked and popular:

– Be a great listener. Do this and you will stand out from most people who regard listening as a short break before they can speak again. This may be the single most overlooked way to get to know people and to encourage people to like you.

– Choose to like and even love the people in your life. Find the good in people, focus on their positive qualities and let them know what you appreciate about them. Tell them often with praise, encouragement and support.

– Keep your promises and be consistent. If you say you’ll do something then do it, if you commit to showing up then turn up and if you offer to help out then be someone who is dependable. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, doing so is a formula for losing friends.

– Give first. Give sincere compliments, your complete attention to who is talking and genuine kindness. Don’t wait for other people to be kind and considerate to you, take charge and lead by example. Do this with generosity and without wanting anything – that’s when magic happens.

If you’ll follow the above guidelines you’ll see how quickly people warm to you and want to get to know you better. But, what can you do if you’re suffering a loss in popularity with some people you know? What can you do if like President Hollande you find yourself extremely unpopular with some people?

– Tackle the issue head on by asking whoever disapproves of you why you are now out of favour even though you were liked before. If they have genuine grievances then apologise before correcting any errors, omissions or oversights on your part.

– Determine if these people often gang up against people for no good reason. If this is the case then it’s not personal so be objective about their bad behaviour and see it as a pattern that has nothing to do with you. Minimise contact with them.

– Take a long term view on the situation, decide it’s better to get along with people than to be right all the time. If you can be the mature one and let go of a minor issue then do so if it means the relationships are saved.

– If all of the above suggestions fail to shift the disapproval then there is very little you can to get others to drop any prejudice, grudges or misconceptions they may have. All you can do in this case is give it time and make sure not to bad mouth those people.

Remember, above all, that popularity is fleeting in the world beyond your closest friends and family. One day you’ve just been elected president and you’re on top of the world, then before you know it you’re the most unpopular president in history.

What’s important to bear in mind is that craving popularity is a need for approval in your community but having it comes and goes, and you should never base your happiness on it. Base your self esteem on who you really are and base your happiness on loving those closest to you. Yes, you can have the ongoing approval and respect of your friends but never see the approval of the masses as the key to happiness because it isn’t. You can’t control it, all you can do is aim to win it and once won you can’t always keep it.

Why to Say No to James Bond

Imagine for a moment, you’re outside your house unloading groceries from your car and heading for the front door when all of a sudden James Bond sprints down the street before stopping in front of your newly washed and waxed car. He shouts over to you, “Excuse me, is it ok if I borrow your car?”

You take one look at the cuts on his face and his ripped navy suit and although you want to disappoint him, you can’t. You reluctantly hand over the car key and cringe as Mr. Bond starts the engine and screeches off down the street. You think about how you’re going to explain this to your partner and you head inside wondering if you’ll ever see your car in one piece again.

Every so often, a friend, a family member or a colleague will ask you for a favour. Maybe it’s a few minutes of your time for advice or your input to solve a problem. But sometimes you are asked to do something you really don’t want to do. Maybe someone wants you to loan them your car or to attend a social function you don’t want to go to or perhaps someone wants you to give up your weekend to help them move house.

Whatever the reason for the request, it can be hard to say no, it can be difficult to assert yourself and, especially if you crave approval from people, it can seem like you have no choice but to say yes. The problem is you’ll quickly become a people pleaser, someone who can’t say no to anyone, someone others take for granted because you are always available.

If this sounds like you at times it might be good to start asserting yourself a little more. If someone is always asking¬†favours of you and you really don’t want to help out, then start saying no at least some of the time. Start with small favours you’d rather not do. Also, start saying no to people who are acquaintances rather than close friends or family. Be available to the most important people in your life but be selective with everyone else and trust your feelings – if your feelings are telling you no, then say no.

What about exceptional circumstances? Let’s say someone says they really, really need your help and no one else is able to help. What do you do then? Bear in mind some people will exaggerate and say whatever will work to get you to say yes even though there is no great emergency. For people like that you need to take what they say with a grain of salt and revert to trusting your gut.

Another way to assert yourself is to say yes to part of the request while saying no to the main request. This is a gentle way to let someone down without being unresponsive to their request for help. e.g. I can’t give up my weekend to help you but I can spend Sunday evening with you.

Getting back to the James Bond scenario, you can now see there are a number of ways to handle the situation. Firstly, you could trust that gut instinct that tells you it’s a bad idea to let such a dare devil drive your car and so you say no because he’s not a close friend or family member you know and trust. The second option would be to say no to the primary request but to offer to drive him. So you see, there are ways of handling situations where you need to be assertive. It just means taking a moment to evaluate the situation instead of just saying yes automatically to every request.

Finally, when it comes to being assertive with close friends and family I find it helps to say yes when you are sincere and to say no when you can’t make it or don’t feel like it. Even then it’s good to be flexible and to see if you can help out in a different way or at another time. That way you don’t neglect the people that mean the most to you and you still attend to your own needs.

By the way, if you do bump into James Bond please ask him if I can borrow his Aston Martin. After all I’ve done for him it’s a small favour to ask!

How to Be as Confident as Tom Cruise

You’ve seen him dodge bullets, you’ve seen him bring the bad guys to justice and you’ve even seen him effortlessly mingle with the rich and beautiful. Whether he’s the action hero in Mission Impossible or the low key Jack Reacher one thing’s for sure – Tom Cruise has enough self confidence to light up a city.

Don’t be fooled by appearances though. It’s easy to watch the movies and get the wrong idea about what self confidence really is. You might get the wrong impression and demand too much of yourself, you might think you should be highly confident in all situations and all of the time or you’re failing, failing badly. But that would not be true. You can be sure Tom Cruise has self doubt at times just like the rest of us only you never hear about it.

Confidence has an ebb and flow just like any other feeling, and that’s all it is, a feeling, a sense that “yes, I can do it”. And it doesn’t take much to chip away at your self confidence. If you have a few days with very little sleep and not enough good nourishment, you will become physically and emotionally less capable. You’ll be weaker, you won’t be as confident. And for good reason, you’ll have less of a sense of being able to do what needs to be done. In other words, you’ll have less self confidence.

Of course, it seems like this never happens to Tom Cruise. He can enjoy high speed car chases, stay up all night pursuing criminals and still exude that relaxed charisma that makes the leading lady smile. Unfortunately that’s not real life and it’s not a good standard against which to self assess your self confidence.

What can you do to enjoy more self confidence?

Take good care of your physical, mental and emotional needs each day and you’ll have a solid basis from which to express your natural self confidence. Eat foods that give you energy and avoid those that weaken your body, get the rest and recuperation you need and spend time with supportive and loving people. Do all of this consistently and you’ll be in the best possible condition to say yes to life, to say yes to new challenges and to persist and succeed where others give up.

These same principles apply to becoming more confident with people. You can know what to say to people and you can even know how to approach strangers and get people talking but none of that will work too well if you are having a bad day. If you are worried about pressing problems, tired, hungry or feeling unsupported all of these issues will chip away at your confidence with people. And if this happens do not beat yourself up about it. Simply notice what happened and more importantly how you got into that unresourceful state of mind. Only then can you identify what changes you need to make.

For example, in the last few days I was drinking too much coffee, spending too much time at the computer and forgetting to eat at meal times. And, this is okay for one day but this went on for a few days. The next thing I know I’m meeting people and my mind goes blank, I’m not sure what to say and I can’t be bothered to make small talk. Why? Because I chipped away at my self confidence by weakening my body. I became less capable because I tired myself out. So, then it hits me, oh yeah I’m out of balance. Time to exercise more, set a better routine for meal times and spend less time staring at the computer.

Then, the confidence starts flowing again. I feel energetic, happy and connected to people, I enjoy meeting people again and everything starts to click.

So, my point is, confidence needs fuel, and you provide that fuel by taking good care of your physical, mental and emotional needs. As you get stronger, you’ll feel capable of achieving more i.e. you are more confident. Then, you naturally start to stretch beyond your comfort zone, you are on a roll and before you know it maybe you start to feel like you’re Tom Cruise!