Ever felt invisible in an important situation, such as a job interview, at a party or important meeting? Psychologist and author Dr Rob Yeung believes we all have the power to generate the attention we need and deserve
- Your new book, How to stand out, offers practical advice on commanding the attention of others. Do you believe in natural charisma?
My approach is evidence-based and I’m quite skeptical about some of the advice out there. When you read a biography of Richard Branson, Oprah or Steve Jobs, it’s apparent that they are different, and we don’t have their mindset or resources. We need to look at the research and see what works for most people and draw conclusions from the balance of possibilities.
- For those of us who struggle to achieve this naturally, do you think some are more predisposed towards being ‘personalities’ than others?
Sometimes when I’m running a workshop, people ask whether leaders are born or made. Research shows that between 30-50 per cent of it comes from genetic make-up, but 50-70 per cent is effort and the circumstances we seek out. For example, if you are a tennis player, it helps to be tall, but it doesn’t mean that if you’re 5ft 2” you can’t be a better tennis player through effort and practice. Attractiveness is natural, but we can all watch our weight, groom our hair and dress stylishly and look the ‘best’ for us. Similarly a speaker can go from nervous to confident with good advice and experience.
- Confidence and self-belief are key to standing out – how can we improve our outlook?
The ‘confidence con’ exists largely in our heads. Research shows that we overestimate the extent that other people are happier by up to 20 per cent, but our assumption is simply not true. If we act confidently and appear happy on the outside, people think we are strong on the inside. My ‘power up’ exercise is a great way to boost your mindset. Think of an example of when you felt powerful and spend time writing about how you felt such as when you delivered a great interview, had a fantastic date or gave a powerful speech. Relive that moment and you will radiate inner confidence.
- You focus on the importance of language and body language for impact – how can we improve these to boost our stand out?
‘It’s not what you say, but that the way that you say it,’ is a myth. Body language is important but research shows that what we say matters most. There are three steps to good, effective presentation – preparation, practice and performance, and you need to commit many hours to the first two to achieve success with the last. Sometimes I can work with a client for a couple of 90-minute sessions and it’s like a boost or a vitamin shot, or it can take many months, but all of us can definitely improve with effort.
Dr Rob Yeung is a psychologist and author of more than 20 books including How To Win: The Argument, the Pitch, the Job, the Race (Capstone) and E is for Exceptional: The New Science of Success (Pan Books). His latest book, How To Stand Out: Proven Tactics for Getting Noticed is published by Capstone.
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