It is safe to say that all of us, especially when executing our work role, desire to demonstrate how capable we are. We realize that this and our contribution to the organization’s success will influence our personal success, growth and advancement. And yet, one puzzle that is rather frequently expressed is the reason
that the boss, the co-worker or our team member seems withdrawn from us. The result is our having a limited interaction and a true sense of involvement in what’s going on around us. In other words, what might we be doing that conveys an inferiority complex rather than a person who is confident and valued by others?
Certainly this is frustrating and comes to be seen as a handicap to achieving th
e very success and recognition that we strive to receive. Because this is an issue seen with regularity, it warranted some research as a means of identifying what are the things one might be doing to create the exact opposite reaction of others to us and thus, become a stumbling block to the collective and individual success goals we have?
Terina Allen of the Ardis Institute provided a good summary of behaviors that highlight rather than hide one’s insecurities. Doing them may just cause one to ‘seem’ inferior with the negative impact of stalling one’s career. They are as follows:
- You offer help but never ask for it.
Why? Because you are convinced that this makes you look weak and are afraid of being vulnerable. Or – you believe that you are put here to help others but no one can really help you. You are too self-sufficient.The irony is that the exact opposite is true. Asking for help shows strength, confidence and courage. When you reach out to others, you express a willingness to learn, and you are acknowledging that you are not mentally or intellectually superior.
- You don’t ask questions.
Why?You are convinced that you are supposed to know everything and work hard to be the smartestperson in the room. You think this will make you look strong and endear others to you. Or – you are convinced that you will look stupid because it will confirm that you don’t know something.The irony is that the exact opposite is true. By not asking questions and eliciting guidance and advice from others, you isolate yourself from the team and limit opportunities to network and build professional bonds and support systems. When you ask questions, you invite others in and send the message that you value what others think. You also show that their contributions are important.
- You don’t speak up.
Why?You are convinced that no one really wants to hear what you have to say. Or – your fear that you don’t actually have anything of value to add that anyone will care about.The irony is that the more often you remain silent and don’t contribute to the conversation, the more people will come to believe that you actually don’t add any value or don’t want to add any. Or worse, they come to believe that you are not interested to engage on the issue at all. Either way, you come off as distant, uninterested and not a team player. People begin to overlook you more and more for career opportunities or project work.
- You excessively avoid conflict.
Why? You are convinced that your needs can and/or should be the ones that take a back seat to others and overly avoid or accommodate in deference to the needs of others. You do this even when the issue at hand is important to you and even after you have communicated your needs.
The irony is that when you choose avoidance or accommodating too often, you cause others to take less and less interest in meeting your needs. By always placing so little value on your own needs, you teach everyone else to do the same, and those around you respect you less and less.
- You fear failure so much it causes you to resist change and/or appear inflexible.
Why? You are convinced that change means that you will have to learn new and different methods,approaches, processes and behaviors, and you lack confidence to adjust or learn what you need in order to be successful.After you master something, you are not as flexible to change because secretly you are not so confident that you can master the “new” something. You advocate for things staying the same because you don’t want to be found out. In your head you are thinking, “What if I can’t do it? What if I become less relevant? What if I fail?”
Ms. Allen sees many different ways that you can undermine your leadership and stall or kill your career. Having an inferiority complex tops the list because it causes you to think and behave in ways that are completely contrary to the kind of thoughts and behaviors that lead to task, job or career success.
The bottom line is that if we are doing things that send a message to others that we see ourselves as less than … generally inferior to others around us … we are inadvertently creating the situation that will serve to stymie the very progress that we go to work daily to achieve and advance. Doesn’t it seem like it would be a valuable ‘litmus’ test for all of us to take … even periodically? There’s nothing to lose … right?