Everybody has doubts about their strengths and abilities. And lots of successful people suffer from imposter syndrome, which is when you secretly believe that what you've achieved in life is mere luck and at any moment people will figure out you're a fraud. (Never mind that the highest achieving people create their own luck.) But regardless of what you're good at--or not good at--what's more important is how you talk about yourself to the world. Here's what you need to stop doing right now.
Putting yourself down in front of others
This behavior makes the people in your circles uncomfortable. It's one thing to laugh at a mistake you've made, and entirely another to say something like "I'm so dumb." According to Deirdre Maloney, author of Tough Truths: The Ten Happiness Lessons We Don't Talk About, it's the difference between joking about what you did, versus putting down the person you are. "When you are willing to put yourself down to others--no matter how insignificant or funny it might seem--you are disrespecting yourself," she writes. "Which means you are telling the other person (and yourself) that you are not worthy of respect."
Starting a conversation by shooting your idea in the foot
Ideas may not have literal feet, but if you begin a pitch with "This may be a bad idea..." it's highly unlikely your suggestion will go anywhere. Karin Hurt and David Dye, authors of Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul, suggest a different approach, which they call VOICE. V: envision what and how you will present yourself, including a confident non-verbal portrait of yourself. O: organize what you're going to say (which definitely should not include an apology such as the one in the first sentence of this paragraph). I: inquire by researching other people's stances on the subject and asking for feedback from the people you're conversing with. C: consider the opinions and ides of others and respond gratefully and thoughtfully. And E: keep your delivery energetic and genuinely convey the passion you have regarding the topic at hand.
Not being a good conversationalist
What do you say when someone asks you what you've been up to? Know this: "Not much," is definitely not the answer you want to give when approached by another parent on the sidelines of your kid's sporting event or when you meet someone important in an elevator. You should always have a good story, cool project or fun trip in the back of your mind which is ready to be shared. If you truly don't have anything worth talking about, maybe it's a sign you need to be more intentional about how you spend your time. At the very least, you should be able to turn the conversation on the other person by asking good questions, such as "How is your week going?" or "Have you been keeping up with ( ___ sports team)?" Even though my husband isn't particularly passionate about any sport, keeping up with scores and sports news is an important daily habit for him. That way, if he needs to make small talk with another guy, there's usually a topic they both know something about.