Today's guest is Hilari Weinstein, the president of High Impact Communications. Hilari Weinstein is the author of 2 books, Selection Success and More Selection Success.
In today's episode you'll discover a powerful roadmap for getting (and projecting) true confidence.
You'll also discover:
- One trick to more effective communication on the job-site
- One instant “voice register” change women can make to project more confidence
- 4 questions to ask about a prospective client BEFORE you meet with them
- There are 5 types of confidence – but only ONE you must master to influence and persuade
- One weird mental hack to silence your inner critic and boost confidence – in ANY situation
- The one meeting a week you should NEVER miss, even if you work alone
- The 5-step roadmap to true confidence
Go here to watch the second half of our interview on High Impact Communication
Resources for today’s show:
Interview Transcript and Members Only Resources:
Hilari: Nobody can give us what we need every moment of every day, except for us. If we don't allow ourselves to do that, we're dragging around this burden with us throughout the day.
Enoch: Business of Architecture, episode 186. Hello, I'm Enoch Sears and this is the podcast for architects where you'll discover tips, strategies and secrets for running a profitable and impactful architecture practice. I'd like to invite you to discover how to double your architecture firm income and create your dream practice of freedom and impact by downloading my free four-part architecture firm profit map. As a podcast listener, you can get instant access by going to freearchitectgift.com. Today's guest is Hilari Weinstein, an expert in the area of communication, speaking and presentation skills for architects. She's the author of two books, Selection Success and More Selection Success on how you can do your best in a situation where you're competing in a presentation setting. In today's show you'll learn about what our guest calls, the five types of confidence, including the most important one to gain, which she calls, true confidence. With that, let's get down to business. Hilari, welcome to the Business of Architecture.
Hilari: Thank you so much, it's exciting to be here and I look forward to visiting with you over the next hour or so.
Enoch: Absolutely. We are … You're traveling, first of all, and so thank you for joining us, fitting in the podcast into your busy schedule.
Hilari: Absolutely. One of the great pleasures of my work is that I get to work with individuals and organizations throughout the US and so I never know where I'm going to be in any given week.
Enoch: Well having said that, what are some of your favorite cities? I'm just curious, in the US.
Hilari: Wow, okay. Well, probably my favorite city is Austin, Texas. Mostly because I went to college there and also because it has a very unique personality. The food is phenomenal, the people are very warm and friendly, and so in many ways that's probably my favorite city.
Hilari: You're going to have the great fortune of being there in a couple of weeks.
Enoch: That's right, by the time this goes live we will have already had that. We're throwing a marketing workshop for the Austin area. Actually, people are … What's interesting about that Hilari, is very few architects are actually from Austin who will be attending. Most of them are flying in from around the state, so you've given me a couple suggestions about where to eat and I'm definitely looking forward to that.
Hilari: Yes. Ah, I'm jealous, I'm really jealous. I mean, I have to live vicariously through you and I have no doubt that your tummy and your taste buds will be satisfied.
Enoch: I'll be sure to send you a picture on Instagram.
Hilari: Ah, God. Thank you, I appreciate that.
Enoch: You bet. Well Hilari, why don't you give our audience an overview of your background and what you specifically focus on?
Hilari: Okay. For the past 14 … Well, it's going to be 14 years very soon, I've had the great pleasure of working almost exclusively in the design and construction industry, so architects, engineers, and general contractors. How I got into this type of work, is I had been a member of the National Speakers Association and living in Arizona at the time, the procurement laws were changing and suddenly contractors now had to interview in order to get jobs, as opposed to, just getting jobs through [inaudible 00:03:37]. I was contacted by Sundt Construction who's based in Arizona, but they work all across the country. They interviewed me and two other candidates to put together a program to help their construction teams be more comfortable and confident in public speaking in order to help them be more effective in these project interviews. I fell in love with the industry. After that, I realized, “Wow, there were so many individuals and organizations within design and construction that were doing these types of presentations on a regular basis.”
I got my masters degree in speech communication with a minor in educational psychology, but I always loved coaching presenters. I spent a significant portion of my life doing competitive speaking around the country while in high school and in college, and enjoyed that thoroughly, but upon graduation I had the opportunity to just focus on coaching and that's where I felt like I found my love. There is no greater joy for me than being able to see someone fully capable of expressing themselves in a way that really resonates with who they are and what they want to communicate. After I graduated, I got involved in sales and sales training, because I didn't realize there was a market for presentation coaches. Not until I began working in design and construction and I love the people in this industry, love them. They're so smart, they're so creative, and the things that architects and engineers and constructors do is they're really building the world around us.
Enoch: Speaking of constructors, so let's go back to that first firm you started working for. Do you remember the specifics of that engagement and if so, I'm curious what was some of your experience coaching them? What were some of the things they struggled with? Were there any insights from working with specifically some contractors in terms of what they were doing?
Hilari: Well, one of the things that became very evident to me, is when somebody whose not been in design and construction comes into construction, it is a unique environment. The guys are typically not afraid to use four letter words and such, they give each other … They kind of rile each other up and there's a lot of teasing. There tends to be a lot of masculine energy. What I mean by that is, when they give each other suggestions, they tend to be very harsh and direct and so initially I thought, “Okay-
Enoch: I can only imagine.
Hilari: Yeah, so initially I thought, “Okay, do I need to match that in order to have them be effective?” What I realized was, being a female in this industry and working with a large number of men who are starting to do something that makes them feel very uncomfortable and vulnerable, that approach of that harshness and directness, they get that every day. What they really needed in this environment where they were feeling uncomfortable, was someone who's a little bit more compassionate and supportive and gave them the confidence that, “Okay, it may not be perfect now, but just trust that you'll evolve in time.” A little bit of more of that motherly approach, not … I guess motherly isn't the appropriate word, but a more compassionate approach I have found to be significantly more effective, because these are smart people, these are people that in the job, whether it be architects, engineers or constructors, they're very confident in the work that they do, but they may not be comfortable expressing their ideas in a forum like making a presentation, or sometimes it's even in a meeting. They're great one-on-one, but something shifts when they get into a public forum with people either they don't know, or something where it's them trying to win a job. They need that compassion, because as soon as their confidence drops, it's impossible to make progress.
Enoch: Now, in the AEC industry have you had the opportunity to also coach women and if so, have you noticed any perhaps advantages that they might have in terms of the way that they naturally present themselves?
Hilari: There are a lot of variations, because I think every person is different and my goal is to bring out the personality of the person, as opposed to, giving them a formula. The better I can know what that person's general tendencies are, the better I can help them. Now, with women part of it depends on their age. For example, I find that younger women in the industry have a little bit more difficult time expressing themselves and when … Not to stereotype, but I'm making a generalization because it's something that I have actually observed. Something that I find very common is when younger women get up to present, they kind of … It's hard to describe, but they kind of twist their hands, and fingers, and their physical discomfort is done in a very overly feminized way, and when they start speaking, they usually start speaking high in their register, “Hi, my name is … ” They start up here, which that shrill tone, any of us go, “Ahh.” I always coach them, I say, “The best thing that you can do, I want you to start lowering your vocal register,” because there's something about that, that also grounds them and makes them feel more comfortable.
With women that are a little bit more experienced, part of it depends on which industry they're in. In architecture I find women's voices are more readily accepted as part of the creative and collaborative process. In engineering, women aren't as … There aren't as many women in that industry and the same is true of construction. I love having a female voice in the room, because a lot of times on the other side of the table there are women, and being able to communicate with a fellow woman who is in this business is phenomenal. I also think it's essential to have people … Some diversity, not just male, female diversity, but bringing in people that represent more of the general population. There are some clients that really appreciate companies that have a lot of opportunities for those that are not just the middle aged white male, which we see a lot of and there's … Not to say anything negative about men, or being middle aged, but the people on the other side of the table, they want to be able to relate to the panel and/or whether it's a client. Sometimes it's not even trying to get the job, it's during the job. If the people on the other side of the table are not the middle aged white male, sometimes they want to see people similar to them.
Enoch: If we were talking and I was preparing to go into a presentation situation before a committee, what would that conversation look like Hilari? How would we sit down and what would you be telling me to help me get the most out of that situation?
Hilari: Well the first thing that I would ask you is to paint the scene for me. Help me better understand what you know about the project, what you know about the people that may be sitting across the table from you. What truly matters to them? What are the things that they're afraid might keep them up at night? Then the next thing that we do is we look at, “Okay, what are some of the unique things that you can bring to the table that will really help this client achieve their goals? Not only achieve their goals, but give them the experience that they want to have.” Because, often times people forget, doing a project is not just about delivering goods, a building, a design, whatever that may be. It's about an experience and the client is shopping for an experience as much as they are the ability to get the job done. Once we start identifying, “Okay, what are some of the unique things that you can bring to the table?” We assess that based on, “Okay, can anybody else who is going after this project say the same thing?” Usually what comes up first is, “Well, we've got experience.”
Well, every other team is going to have that, or else they wouldn't be invited. Every other team is perceived as confidence. What is it about your specific experience that gives you unique insight that is going to solve some special challenge on this project that no other team can do? Now, sometimes the reason you come up with these may not be to position yourself above the competition, sometimes you have to find those equalizers. Because, the client may think, “Oh well, your company, well you've only done this many.” Well, maybe that's an incorrect perception that you need to correct to at least equalize things with your competition. Some of the things that we look at are the equalizers and some of them are the differentiators, but if all you have are equalizers, you will not get the job. You have to have those differentiators. I've been brought in where folks will tell me, “Well, the information we got at the pre-proposal meeting was dah, dah, dah, dah.” Well, if the information you have is exactly the same as your competition, bringing me in to throw a hail Mary I don't know is the best use of your resources.
You have to do some really good intelligence upfront, ask good questions, clarify anything that might be vague, look for opportunities to discover things that the competition won't. Those are some things that are going to make the biggest difference when you go in to interview with a client to get a job. The other piece of this is, for many companies they bring in somebody like me to assist them to get the job, but they haven't done anything to address communication skills during the job, which is a regular occurrence, which will determine whether you get the next job. When I go in and work with companies right now, it's really about, “Let's develop good communication skills, because how you perform on this job is going to indicate whether or not you have the next one, so that we don't wait until the project interview to try to correct communication.” Because, we use communication every day, so it somebody's got an interview once every six months and they're not practicing in between, it's a heck of a lot harder to get them doing the things that are going to consistently and effectively help them communicate with others.
Enoch: What are your suggestions for effective communication, Hilari?
Hilari: Well, there are a variety of them. One of the biggest things that impacts an individual's ability to effectively communicate is lack of true confidence, which impacts their clarity. There are a variety of different types of confidence and I'm actually in the process of developing an online course devoted to helping individuals develop true confidence. Because, the word confidence is just thrown around, like everybody knows exactly what it is. If its been fleeting for you, or if you just don't understand what that means, somebody telling you, “Just be confident,” is like somebody telling you to go walk on the moon. It just doesn't make sense. I've discovered that there are multiple types of confidence. The first one is inflated confidence, where somebody's self-esteem is not equal to their capabilities. The second type of confidence is what I call, contextual confidence. What that is, is where an individual maybe comfortable in certain contexts, like maybe one-on-one with people that they know, but you put them in a networking event and they're completely uncomfortable.
The third type is subject matter confidence, where someone might be great talking about one area, but something entirely different comes up and they lose their confidence entirely. There's also borrowed confidence, which is something that I often find myself doing as a coach, is trying to create the confidence in them that they can borrow to make them feel good about what they do until they can build up a higher degree of their true confidence. Then there's true confidence and by true confidence it is something that has to come from within. It's the ability to trust yourself in a variety of different situations. That can be difficult for many of us. What I'm developing is some materials to help more people do that, because I've worked in so many different industries and confidence is truly the foundation of being good at anything, whether it be communicating your ideas, whether it be asking somebody on a date.
True confidence is balanced with humility, because true confidence has no arrogance whatsoever. True confidence is just a solid sense of self. Now, when somebody has a solid sense of self, they have greater clarity in what they communicate. The problem I find with many individuals is because we live in a world where there's a lot of chaos, multi-tasking is encouraged, people don't take the time to be still and really get clear with their own ideas. If someone lacks internal clarity, it is impossible for them to share their ideas with any clarity.
Enoch: What's the secret to getting true confidence?
Hilari: The secret to getting true confidence is getting truly comfortable in your own skin and becoming friends with yourself. Something that I find fascinating is that most of us have a very diligent schedule for our day, we're doing something for so-and-so, we're doing something for so-and-so, we're constantly making ourselves available for others, but the reality of life is, is there is only one person who's with us 24/7 from the very beginning to the very end. Most of us don't take the time during our day to spend time with that person, and that person is us. Some people might say, “Well, talking to yourself is kind of crazy.” The way I look at it is talking to yourself is actually the most sane thing that you can do, because we're doing it anyways, but most of us are talking to ourselves from the mind. Usually what comes up is something like the inner critic, where we have this inner dialog where there's somebody … I call it, the gremlin, and that gremlin is like, “Oh my God, I can't believe you just said that. You're such a dork. Are you really wearing that?” Where it's more about the critical information that we get.
I read a wonderful book that challenged me by saying, “You are not your thoughts.” I thought, “Hmm? Well, that's fascinating.” What I started doing was I started identifying the different types of thoughts that were contributing to my sense of self and that inner critic was a significant contributor. I thought, “Wow.” I had this vision of a boardroom, where the inner critic is there, but there are other people in the room, but for some reason I've been letting that inner critic run the meeting, even thought it's my meeting. Anytime that inner critic shows up now, I don't let them run the show. I say, “Thank you for your contribution and I'm curious, does anybody else here have some other ideas?” To diminish the power that that is, and also recognize that's not me, and just because I think it, doesn't make it true. Clarifying where are your thoughts taking you and is it serving you? Also, what is it in your heart? What is it that you really feel, you really want, that you really know? You can't connect to your inner guidance, until you sit quietly with yourself and are comfortable being with yourself, because if you're not comfortable with yourself, when you present yourself to others, you're going to come across as uncomfortable.
Enoch: You've given us one tip for becoming comfortable with ourselves. You talked about being very conscious of the thoughts that we're thinking and then having a strategy to be able to accept those thoughts as our own, but then push them aside and say, “Okay, what else? Who else has an opinion up here?” What are some other strategies to be able to get that inner confidence, be comfortable in our skin? Because, I think that a lot of us do find that difficult to do.
Hilari: Right. Another thing that I think is essential, and this goes along with the getting comfortable with yourself, is setting really good boundaries on self care. When people don't feel good about … When they just don't feel good, if they're tired, if they're hungry, if they're not taking care of themselves physically, if they're not doing things in their life that they enjoy that brings them bliss outside of work, then they don't feel like they're honoring themselves fully. They feel like they're just this machine of doing and it's very difficult for a machine of doing to feel good about themselves, because if all you're doing is doing, then your being is suffering. Confidence comes from really being comfortable with who I am regardless of whether I'm doing something or whether I'm being, but our culture is such that we value production, we value what you accomplish. When you can appreciate yourself regardless of what you accomplish, it doesn't mean you accomplish less, it just means that it comes from a different place.
When you don't get something that you accomplish or when you do, it no longer is a source of even inflating or defeating your ego. It's just a joy and it doesn't affect your self-esteem and when you make the adjustments to maybe either make something better the next time, or say, “You know what? That was really great. I am so happy that I did that.” It no longer feeds your ego, it just feeds your spirit, which should be the driver. This internal navigation that we all possess is essential to getting the clarity that we need, but it's also essential to how we communicate, because there is nobody like you. There is no one like you. Many people don't know the you that I'm referring to and when they don't, they're missing out on an opportunity to share something magnificent with their clients. Because, on these projects they're not just hiring people to do. As I said before, they're hiring an experience and until you know what you bring to the table that nobody else can, that personality that you have, and that you appreciate that person, flawed, imperfect and all, then it's impossible for somebody else to share that enthusiasm about what you can bring to the table.
Self-knowing, I find, is vastly missing in this industry. I don't know if you read this study. There was a study done by the Centers for Disease Control recently, which was looking at what are the different types of vocations that have the highest rates of suicide? Number two was construction. Numbers four and five were architecture and engineering. I read that and I was like, “Whoa, wow.” I pondered that. I mean, I was pondering that for a week because it made me so sad, because these are the people that I work with. As I reflected on it, I realized that people in this industry they work so hard. They work way over 40 hours a week. They often skip lunches. They often work weekends. They often sacrifice time with family and friends to get the job done, which can be admirable, but in the long run that does take a toll on our productivity, on our efficiency, and our effectiveness, when we stop taking that time to take care of us. Because, if there is no us, we have nothing to give. I do think that the self care component is a huge reason why the CDC discovered those numbers. I know a lot of people go-
Enoch: Okay, so you talked about being very aware of our self care.
Enoch: How do we get that to that point of increasing our self-knowing? You mentioned that as being a very important part to true confident.
Hilari: Yes. Something that I think is essential is to schedule meetings with yourself in the same way that you schedule a meeting with others. You're willing to make phone calls to other people, you're willing to set appointments in your calendar. Set up an appointment with yourself and as you're going through your day, okay, rather than letting your mind just dwell and agonize over something that happened that you're going to have to figure out, put it on a list and say, “Okay, I will take care of you during my me-meeting.” That frees you up to just be able to continuously interact with people in the present, without your mind going off on other things. Having set aside time that you honor for you in the same way that you would honor a meeting with anybody else, is imperative.
The other thing is, just being quiet with yourself, whether it's having a dialog through journaling, or setting up a meeting like this via Skype and having an interaction with you in a way that you would with somebody else. Most of us just don't know ourselves as well as we think we do and we really don't know what a beautiful thing it is to be able to connect to ourselves, because when we can do that, we have so much more to give other people. When we are less self-conscious, we have a greater capacity to be present and truly listen to others. We can truly connect with them.
Enoch: What do you suggest people do in that me-meeting, Hilari?
Hilari: Ah. One of the things that you can do is, as I said, journal. Something else that you can do is identify, “Okay, what do I really need right now? What would make me feel good right now?” Many of us depend on things on the outside of us to make us feel better, praise, money, stuff, something from another human being, love, a hug. When we can find ways to give that to ourselves, we are less dependent and needy for it externally. Let's say you're like, “Gosh, today's been a really tough day. I would just like, I don't know, somebody to make me feel valued.” Well, write a note to yourself five reasons why I matter in this world. Instead of asking for those things outside of ourselves, we can ask for them inside of ourselves. I also think something else that we can do in our me-meetings that people don't do enough of is play. We are so serious about our work and ourselves and when you're playful, you tend to be much more creative. You lighten up about things. I don't know about you, I mean, you can tell when you walk into a room, to a meeting, or even a presentation, when somebody is way intense and they've got a heaviness about them, are you drawn to them, or do you kind of pull back?
Hilari: What do you typically do?
Enoch: What do I do?
Hilari: If you're in a meeting and you see somebody who's very intense and has a heaviness about them in their energy, are you drawn to them or do you pull away?
Enoch: You mean their aura maybe seems like they're kind of carrying a burden?
Enoch: Well I mean, my personal personality is that I'm drawn, attracted to people that have high energy and exude a lot of positivity, and so people like that, they definitely don't attract me.
Hilari: Yeah. I think that's common for most people, so because of that we have to allow ourselves these times to play. The other thing that is essential is getting out of your head, is doing something whether it be listening to some music, or closing your office door and having 80s dance party in your office to just let out some steam. That's essential, because nobody can give us what we need every moment of every day, except for us. If we don't allow ourselves to do that, we're dragging around this burden with us throughout the day. One of the things that you got to do is, sit down and discover, “Okay, what do I need at this one moment that is going to help me get through the rest of the day?” A big mistake that people forget to make when they're going through their day, is utilizing transition time, which is essential for communication. Because, let's say that you've had a very stressful meeting with an owner or a client, and then you rush into go meet with your boss, and you're supposed to talk about getting a promotion, and you haven't had time to let go of what has happened, and start to transition into, “Okay, how do I need to be in order to interact with my boss in such a way that I can get this raise?”
Scheduling transition time, as opposed to, rushing from one even to another, you will find that your communications are so much more effective, because you're not dragging everything with you that has been during the day, you're letting that go. Then, you get very clear about how you want to be in the next interaction. One of the questions I've been asking folks a lot recently is, how do you want others to experience you? For many people, they go, “Hmm, hmm? I've never really thought about that.” Well, why not? When you set the intention for how you want others to experience you, you have a greater likelihood of actually creating that in others. A lot of my technical professionals will say, “Well, I want them to experience me as organized, and smart, and efficient.” I said, “Those aren't personality characteristics. Tell me about you. Do you want them to think of you as fun? Do you want them to think of you as caring? Do you want them to think of you as somebody that they enjoy being around?” Those are the things that when we set that intention before you go into meetings, will ensure your ability to engage with them in that way and have the result that you want.
Enoch: Hilari, thank you. We've talked a lot about the total confidence.
Enoch: Is what you call it and we've talked about the inner critic. We've talked about scheduling a me-meeting. We've talked about knowing yourself and then most recently, scheduling a transition time. Is there anything else that you would suggest that goes into that, how we can get more of this total confidence that we all aspire to have?
Hilari: Yeah. Part of it also is, is to not be afraid of things that are making you uncomfortable. Most of us avoid those things that make us uncomfortable, as if we can just close our eyes and just, “Eh,” make it go away. Something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable is eye contact with others and this happens not only in individual interactions, but especially in formal presentations. I have so many folks that say, “Well, what do I do? Can I just look above their heads? I just don't want to look in their eyes.” The reason why we communicate is to connect and if you can't look at somebody in the eye, you can't make a connection. Communication isn't about sending a message, words, it's about sending a message through you and so, all of you needs to be there and you need to be able to connect with others. The reason why most people won't make good eye contact, is not that they're afraid of looking at somebody else, they're afraid of somebody else looking at them. The more confidence you have, the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable you'll be with other people looking at you.
The reason why we're uncomfortable with others looking at us, is because we're uncomfortable looking at ourselves. Two things that you can do to help that. Number one, look in the mirror and don't just look in the mirror to just rush around and fix things and make sure there isn't spinach in your teeth. Look in the mirror and look into your own eyes and tell yourself three things that you genuinely appreciate about yourself, and sit with that, and feel that. The second thing is, as you go about your day, make it a point to make as many people smile as you can. What that generally requires is just looking at somebody, and acknowledging them, and smiling. In doing that on a regular basis, it enables us to be more comfortable in making contact with people that we don't know, and them looking at us, and seeing us, because we're comfortable seeing ourselves.
Enoch: Fantastic. Hilari, true confidence, total confidence, being more accepting of ourselves is definitely something that all of us can be very helped by. You said that you were developing some course material on this. Where can people go to get further instruction if they want to up their level of confidence?
Hilari: Well, the best thing to do is to go to my website, which is www.high, H-I-G-H, impact, I-M-P-A-C-T, communication, C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-I-O-N.com, and there will be some information there. You can also sign in and get my regular newsletters, so as soon as the material becomes available, I can notify you. When you go to my website, you can click on the design and construction section. I have some wonderful free downloads and blog posts that you can read that have a variety of different tips and tools, not only to be a better communicator, but also to help you win more jobs. In fact, I have two books available. One is called, Selection Success and then the other is called, More Selection Success, so there are a lot of resources there that can help you win work, as well as, be a more effective communicator and very soon, be more truly confident.
Enoch: That is fantastic. Thank you for that, Hilari. I encourage all of our listeners to go out there, go to highimpactcommunication.com. Get on Hilari Weinstein's email list, so you can get updated about what she's doing. Thank you once again for being on the show, Hilari.
Hilari: You're welcome. People can also connect with me via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Thank you so much for having me, its been a delight.
Enoch: That is a wrap. Thank you for listening today. If you're looking for more time, freedom, impact and income as an architect, get instant access to my free four-part architect profit map by visiting freearchitectgift.com. The sponsor for today's show is ArchReach, the client relationship management tool built specifically for architects. If you want to systematize your marketing and business development, ArchReach will help you do it. Visit archreach.com to learn more. The views expressed on this show by my guest do not represent those of the host and I make no representation, promise, guarantee, pledge, warranty, contract, bond, or commitment, except to help you conquer the world.