Affirm an insecure person and they explain why your affirmation is false. You talk about their talent. They explain their faults. You celebrate a win. It rolls off their back.

Insecurity deflects affirmation.

For coaches:

  1. Monitor your frustration. Frustration is your inner control freak’s attitude toward people who don’t behave the way you like.
  2. Chill out. When your control freak rises up, chill out and stop talking. Give yourself time for your heart rate to slow. Everyone sees your need to control.
  3. Forget about changing people.
  4. Remember people change themselves.
  5. Stop practicing behaviors that don’t work. You’re frustrated because you’ve tried the same thing hundreds of times and it didn’t work. Accept that your strategy isn’t working.
  6. Explore new strategies.
  7. Open your mind and heart to your insecure employee.

Coaching an insecure employee:

Thanks, but…

You just said, “You’re great at working with your team,” and they said, “I got lucky.” Or, worse yet, they give you a, “Thanks, but…,” response. “Thanks, but I’m terrible at … (insert weakness).”

Deflectors frustrate managers. Attempts at energizing insecure employees result in deflection, negative responses, and de-motivation.

Try some of the following questions:

  1. Take a positive approach. “What did you do that made the boss say you did a great job?” “What was she thinking when she said that?”
  2. Explore their strength. What is there about you that makes team members enjoy working with you?
  3. Examine affirmations. What do you think I mean when I say, “You’re great at bringing a team together?”
  4. Take the next step. “How can you apply your organizational skills in new areas?”
  5. What imperfect step forward would you like to try this week?

You can’t fix an insecure person. You can focus them on their strengths, end deflecting behaviors, and identify next steps.

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