Look Inward: Finding Your Fascinating Advantage
No matter where we are in our careers, we are constantly thinking about how we can stand out from the rest of the pack. Whether its distinguishing ourselves from other candidates during a job interview or showing why we deserve a promotion, we can all benefit from knowing what makes us unique.
Knowing what makes each of us special is how we can determine what our unique competitive advantage is.
These attributes can work to a team’s advantage. We identify key differentiators for clients to make a successful pitch or develop an effective marketing strategy. Similarly, knowing what sets us apart as an individual can not only help us “make a win” but can also guide how we approach our day-to-day interactions and decisions. This is what Sally Hogshead, former advertising executive and New York Times best-selling author of “Fascinate — Your 7 Triggers of Persuasion and Captivation,” explains in her book.
Hogshead says that for people to be interested in us, we have to be able to fascinate them and do so quickly. She explains that the neurological process of fascination is similar to the infatuation we may feel when falling in love — devoting all our attention and focus on that one person. How do we harness the power of fascination? By knowing and sharing what makes us distinct.
If we don’t learn how to fascinate people, we can become a commodity. We need to learn how to avoid being “basic” or “middle of the pack.” Our life experiences allow us to captivate people and engage them in a way that is novel, creating a unique and memorable experience. Even when speaking in a career context, we should call on both personal and professional life experiences that have shaped interests, values and choices — what makes us who we are.
For example, if you grew up in a community that is vastly different from your current community or team members, you are positioned to provide unique perspectives and skills that add indispensable value. Did you live, research or study abroad in a place that had a significant impact on how you tackle problems or assess risk? Did you have friendships or work in teams with people from diverse backgrounds that afford you a wider perspective or equip you to more objectively evaluate circumstances and potential solutions and strategies? A simple question to consider: What adjectives would someone use to describe you?
This isn’t necessarily what adjectives you think encapsulate your essence but how people actually see you. To identify what your personality’s primary advantage is, Hogshead developed a brief personality test that helps you understand your brand value and how others perceive you.
Discovering your primary advantage can help you understand your own communication patterns as well as those of your team members. And, in turn, this will help you be a more effective and captivating communicator and get the most out of individual advantages — building teams with unique capabilities and synergy.
Hogshead developed 49 archetypes based on a matrix, which maps seven distinct advantages: innovation, passion, power, prestige, trust, mystique and alert. Once you take the quiz (howtofascinate.com), you can see how you are most likely to make a positive and memorable first impression and recognize which qualities to keep in check, since some qualities may work against you in becoming your best self.
If you know your most valuable trait, then you are able to showcase your greatest differentiator — what makes you anything but “vanilla.” Furthermore, this realization can reshape how you see team members and leverage their personal advantages.
In my case, it has definitely influenced how I hire new employees. I focus on a person’s unique strengths and consider how those individual advantages complement the team, instead of using a general checklist of attributes for the position.
By recognizing others’ fascinating advantages, you can mitigate workplace problems rooted in communication and promote a culture where people feel their individuality is valued.
Andrea Gils, a native of Uruguay, is the marketing and communications manager at the University of Kentucky International Center. She was on the PRSA New Pros National Committee in 2016, currently serves on the PRSA National Diversity & Inclusion National Committee and is a Champion for PRSSA. Connect with her on LinkedIn: andreagils.