You will meet them wherever you go - they'll be in your workplace, your next presentation or on your team for a project. Sharks in my definition are those who can often be difficult to work with; they are blunt, strategic, don't play a fair game and can seem intimidating to some.
You've met them; I am sure. These are people who will stop at nothing to get what they want (even if they are wrong), have no regard for others and often like to prove a point. But can I tell you, you've got nothing to fear when you are around these people - I wish someone told me that before. But since I have had my share of experiences and have seen them chew up and spit out the easily intimidated, I share a few tips on how to deal with the sharksLike you would imagine, sharks prey on the easily intimidated/the cowards and those who wont stand up for themselves, so
1. Be Confident!
Know who you are and what you are about - simply put, have confidence in yourself. The truth is you won't always be the smartest, but it is important to know what you can bring to the table. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses is key. Once you know you are a master or quite knowledgeable in a particular area, bring that to the table.
Everyone loves a confident person (notice I said confident, not cocky). So, even if you don't know everything, people can appreciate those who are confident in what they know, especially if they can articulate it well.
Survival tip: Part of being confident is knowing exactly the value you can bring to any team whether they are older or younger than you are - this means, dumbing down yourself is not an option.
2. Share What You Know
Not knowing everything doesn't give you the reason to dumb down yourself. Because the reality is, you won't know everything, and that's fine. Being confident means, knowing that it's okay to say you don't know something. One of the most important things I have learned is that, you don't need to impress or prove anything to anyone. Even the most knowledgeable and successful people know that learning from others is instrumental in growing.
Survival tip: When you are surrounded by sharks, bring what you know to the table and then sit back and learn what you can from others. You grow by learning. Remember, you will never find someone who knows everything and you earn respect when you have mastered something that can bring value to the table, without trying to prove a point.
3. Be Knowledgeable
Because you are an expert at one thing doesn't mean you shouldn't learn to tap into other areas. It is always a plus to be part of a team and have at least a slight idea of what everyone else is talking about or doing.
Survival tip: Learn and grow by stretching yourself. Don't by afraid to ask questions if you don't know something.
4. Stand Your Ground
I hate to admit it, but surviving among sharks means you will have to learn to deal with conflicts. Like you would expect, everything will not be smooth sailing, and you will be expected to stand your ground. You earn respect when you know what you are about and can support your points without backing out because someone is trying to intimidate you or underestimate your abilities.
One of the thing I often see in the work world is that sometimes even the most knowledgeable person will let a 'shark' shut them down. Why, because don't like conflicts and want to be in everyone's good book.
Survival tip: Be confident, know what you stand for without being arrogant and be knowledgeable.
5. Take out the Emotions
One of the best way to survive among sharks is to get your emotions out of the equation. I've been guilty of bringing all my emotions to the table. Sharks are known to attack and they know the right buttons to push - don't take the bait.
Survival tip: They might try to underestimate your abilities and shut you down, but the best solution is always to respond in a professional manner - admittedly, this will take a lot of work!
6. Outsmart Them
To outsmart any shark is to be one step ahead of them - by being prepared. Take the time to observe their patterns and habits - and if you are around them more often than you would like, you will know how to deal with them in almost any situation. Another great way to outsmart the sharks is to focus on your goals, bringing your A-game without focusing too much on their behaviours. Keep a positive attitude and never stoop to their level.