Welcome to this
issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback
goes beyond having a specific expertise. It certainly means being knowledgeable
and skillful in your field. But it also means possessing a problem-solving
ability that goes beyond your own specialty. If you don't know the answer, or
how to fix the problem, with strong competence, you know how to go about getting
someone who does. Competence means having a can-do attitude and following
through on it.
We all know INcompetence when we see it. I speak a lot in public and once in a
while I run into a situation where the person handling the technical aspects of
the event - the "AV" as it's called, for audio-visual - doesn't know what to do
when something goes wrong. There's feedback in the microphone, or the projector
is showing the slides crooked, and the person, who obviously hasn't had the
right training for the job, looks hopeless. Sometimes they look at ME to see if
I know how to fix it.
I'm happy to say the great majority of the time I work with people who are truly
competent at what they do. When something goes wrong, like a buzz in the PA
system, for instance, they may not know exactly where it's coming from, but they
know how to troubleshoot to find it. They check one piece of equipment, and then
another, and then another, until they find the problem.
Exhibiting competence in knowing what you're doing, or knowing how to get
something done, is communicated to others in a variety of ways. There's the
obvious level of actually being able to do what you say you can do.
Your "nonverbals" - how you look, the sound of your voice - go a long way toward
conveying competence. So does the style of behavior you choose - whether you
come across as a very casual person, or as someone who's a professional and
takes herself seriously. Notice I said "the style of behavior you choose,"
because you do have a choice.
And that's my tip on competence: you can choose to behave in a way that exudes
competence, or you can choose to undercut what skills you do have by looking and
acting as if you're not sure of yourself.
Your ability to gain influence with other people is dependent on how they see
you - whether they judge you to be trustworthy, whether they think you really
know what you're talking about, or whether you can manage the tasks you claim
you can. You'll go a long way toward gaining that trust when you're able to
impress them with your competence.
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