Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on January 4, 2017
We all know how important it is to constantly increase our level of employability and the value of our personal brand. Adequately displaying our talent is key for this. Here I share ten ideas on how to do it.
Ask questions. There is nothing like asking questions to show that you are alert and attentive. The quality of a person’s questions defines them even more than that of their answers. Don’t be afraid to ask; there are no stupid questions if they’re asked with genuine interest. But ask short questions: don’t take the floor for lengthy discourses.
Talk less. You do not own the truth or the podium. Speak only as necessary when you can genuinely contribute with relevant comments that are short and clear. The ability to summarize is an important manifestation of intelligence. But most importantly, learn to listen with your full attention.
Don’t try to impress people with your intelligence or your knowledge. There is always someone who knows more, has more experience, or is more intelligent –and is silent for precisely that reason. Don’t teach other people lessons. Show respect for the intelligence of others, which itself indicates intelligence and maturity.
Do not constantly criticize or speak badly of others. Do not be the negative person who complains about everything. It indicates an inability to understand, take charge, or lead. Talented people roll up their sleeves, get to work, and find creative solutions to problems –they are the ones who see the light at the end of the tunnel. Focus, plan, decide, and act.
Read often and about everything. Take classes and seminars. Being cultured isn’t necessarily a sign of intelligence, but it does indicate curiosity and interest in the world around you, both of which contribute significantly to developing intellect. Learn to read faster, and to learn faster, both of which are vital today.
Do your homework and be prepared. Getting 100 on everything doesn’t define your level of intelligence, but a 20 makes it easier for you to be stereotyped as not very talented –or dedicated. Being talented is no excuse for not working hard, doing things well, and meeting deadlines. Doing so shows professionalism and dedication.
Develop your emotional intelligence. It is possibly the most important kind of intelligence, because we live in communities. Develop your empathy. Manage your emotions well. And try to be warmer toward people, which makes it much easier to gain the trust of others.
Watch your body language. Look people in the eyes, adopt a good posture that shows you are alert, attentive, interested, and present in the moment. This is what talented people do; they tend to be interested in everything and want to learn.
Ethics and correctness. Nowadays only fools still think they can get away with fraud, cheating, or lying without anyone finding out. We already know that everything comes to light eventually –and it happens faster all the time: everything is made public, everything ends up on the Internet.
Don’t be conceited. Nothing destroys the quality of interpersonal relationships like feeling superior. It is the best way to make enemies and destroy the value of your personal brand. Learn to present your achievements correctly, without conceit. Above all, remember that displaying your talent is not the same thing as trying to demonstrate that you’re talented.