Why “Just Being Yourself” Isn’t Always a Great Idea!


What do you mean, “Just being yourself isn’t always a great idea!? That’s ridiculous! Everyone tells you to “just be yourself.”

Maybe this story about Henry the Nerd will help explain why “just being yourself” isn’t always the best thing to do, especially if you don’t have the emotional tools to pull it off!

Henry was 21, and he lacked what we call “social skills.”

He still lived at home with his mom, and even though he was just about to finish college, he spent a lot of time alone, isolated in his room, playing a lot of video games.

He didn’t have a lot of friends and was pretty lonely.

But he did have a few buddies at school.

So, one day he was surfing the net and came across a dating site. He figured, “What the heck, I might as well give it a shot.”

He saw the profile of a girl who looked like someone he might be able to have a relationship with. Then he began to freak out; “What am I going to say to her, how should I act, what should I tell her about myself?” Those kinds of questions.

In Chapter 1 you’ll find out how Henry dealt with this issue by “just being himself!”

Chapter 1: Henry the Nerd

The next day at school Henry saw his buddies hanging out so he went up and told them about meeting this girl online. Then he asked them the same questions he was asking himself, “What should I say to her, how should I act, if she even talks to me what am I going to do with her!?”

These guys knew Henry pretty well. They knew he was a loner, had never been on a date, spent way too much time alone, isolated, playing video games. So they circled up and started talking amongst themselves. 

After a few minutes, one of the guys broke away from the group, came over to Henry, looked at him and said, “Hey Man, come on over here, we’d like to tell you something. We know you pretty well but we also know that you don’t have much experience with girls.

“So, after thinking this over we decided that when you meet this girl, and you’re trying to decide how to act or what to do, we figured the best thing you can do is… “Just DON’T be yourself!”

Unfortunately Henry lacked what so many of us so desperately need, a high EQ!

Chapter 2: What is Emotional Intelligence and Why Does It Matter?

The term Emotional Intelligence went mainstream by Daniel Goleman in 1996 in his book of the same name. He defines Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions as well as recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.

In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively).

Learning how to manage those emotions – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure has big implications on our lives, our happiness, success, everything!

We all know people who are in full control of their emotions. They’re calm in a crisis, and they make decisions sensitively, however stressful the situation.

For those of us who remember The Miracle on the Hudson, I think we’d all agree that Captain Sully would be an example of great Emotional Intelligence under stress!

Some people can even read the emotions of others. They understand what to say to make people feel better, and they know how to inspire them to take action.

People like this have good EQ. They have strong relationships, they’re personable and they’re likely to be resilient in the face of adversity.

This kind of high EQ is something that most of us aren’t inherently long on. Given our potential EQ shortcomings, it’s important to be aware of this and compensate accordingly.

Chapter 3: Why Just Being Yourself Isn’t Always the Best Thing to Do!

Most of us have had IQ tests when we were in school. Those tests are supposed to measure our intelligence based on a bunch of variables. But nothing much I’ve seen measures our EQ.

When I’m in a lousy mood, angry or upset, “just being myself” is not the best advice to follow especially since I’m a “typical guy.”

Most often people will say, “Relax, just be yourself and you’ll know what to do.” If your EQ is below average, you might want to reconsider…

Let me explain…

Here’s an example: when I’m driving somewhere and I realize that I’m lost, I figure I’ll just keep driving and by some miracle, I’ll find my way. An hour later and still lost I realize I should have stopped and asked for directions!

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but ladies are much smarter than most of us guys in these kinds of situations. They’ll stop and ask for directions.

But in other situations when I’m exercising good EQ, I ask for advice, like; “What do you think about this?” Or, I stop and ask directions, “How do I get to the Shoreline Restaurant?” Or something else that shows good EQ. 

Chapter 4: Would You Fly With a Pilot Who Has a Low EQ?

If your IQ is in the 140 range and up you’re considered a genius. But if your EQ is somewhere around 100 then for sure you shouldn’t “just be yourself!”

I say this because I used to be an airline pilot for one of the best airlines in the “glory days of aviation,” now long gone, TWA (Trans World Airlines). Most of the pilots I flew with were intelligent, some highly so, with corresponding high IQ’s (Intelligence Quotients).

If these guys weren’t smart, company management wouldn’t have turned them loose with people’s lives and some very expensive equipment.

For example, one of my new hire pilot buddies at TWA had a photographic memory. He studied very little but maxed out the frequent exams that we had in B707 systems ground school.

I thought I could keep up with his extracurricular activities and maintain my grades by going out and partying after ground school.

That turned out to be me “just being myself” and not the best use of my Emotional Intelligence!

It only took me a couple of weeks to figure out, after watching my exam scores nosedive, that no way was I going to be able to keep up my after-hours tricks with him and continue my flying career!

Chapter 5: How This Fighter Pilot’s EQ Failed Him!

John is one of my pilot buddies.  He was a fighter pilot with over 3000 hours in the A-10 Thunderbolt and F-15E Strike Eagle. He’s a graduate of the Air Force Academy and has commanded at several different levels in the USAF.

In his own words, “One thing I found out was the way I acted when I strapped into a $50 million “hound of death” fighter aircraft was very different from how I relate to people in normal circumstances; this definitely had to be reckoned with!’

“As a fighter pilot, we’re taught to make split second decisions with precision and accuracy since it’s really the most disciplined flying in the world.’

“I discovered that those fast reactions with short concise communications do not work well in meetings or when listening to people. I still catch myself analyzing someone’s idea before completely listening to them.”

John recognized what Dirty Harry already knew and talked about in his movie of the same name; “A man’s got to know his limitations!”

John knew his limitations because he knew what was required in a combat situation, immediate reaction in a violent situation that came from hours of training definitely wouldn’t work in a one on one conversation with a human being on the other end!

Chapter 6: The Critical Connection Between Emotional Intelligence and Staying Alive!

Situational awareness (SA) is a buzz word that has been popular since some aircraft accidents a few years ago caused accident investigators to probe into why pilots make the kind of decisions that can lead to an accident.

Situational awareness is knowing what’s going on around you, taking it all in, processing it and coming up with a judgment of whether what you see, feel and experience is good or bad, dangerous or safe, threatening, friendly or not, approachable or should you stay away. SA has been an aviation buzz word for some time.

Some of us are better disposed to good situational awareness than others. For example, different personality types have different emotional qualities. There’s an ancient psychological personality typing system called the Enneagram that, simplified, classifies all personalities into one of 9 categories, or personality types based on a predominant emotion, i.e. fear, pride, anger, etc.

If your relationship life and your situational awareness are not what they should be, there are 10 simple but highly effective tips in the next chapter that will help increase your EQ.

Chapter 7: Ten Steps to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

These tips just might help make your life more enjoyable, much richer, in many ways, help make everything you do, better and, in the process, boost your EQ.

These are some very simple but powerful EQ tips that I have used for years and have found helpful. Now they come naturally, most of the time, when I’m not “just being myself!” 😂

(1) Introduce Yourself to others with your first name rather than waiting for them to do so. Then make sure to get their name before moving on.

If they give you their first name then you can probably be sure that it’s safe to use their first name.

If they’re more formal and they offer you their name, “I’m Mister Martin,” or “I’m Miss Jones” then you know that you’re dealing with someone more on the formal side.

This initial step is a powerful one and gives you the advantage of getting the name they want to be called and immediately puts you in the front of their mind because this kind of personal connection happens so rarely.

If you notice, most people don’t use first names on initial introductions but I’ll bet you remember the ones who do!

(2) Remember to Use the Name They Gave You! If it’s “Don,” or “Susan” then you can be pretty sure they’re more casual.

Or if they use their last name as mentioned above, i.e. Mister Martin, Miss Jones, etc. you’ll know right away that the person is more formal than most.

It helps to say something like, “Do you mind if I call you Michael/Janet?” That simple act, in itself, implants you in their mind as someone who cares about them.

It also helps to imprint their name in your mind also.

This is an oft overlooked, yet powerful way to convey to another person that you care about them.

As you go about your day, observe how few people use first names in initial conversations.

(2) Make Sure to Remember Their Name! This takes practice since we’re so focused on our own agenda that their name usually just flies by.

When you remember their name and use it in the conversation, you automatically rank higher than normal in “social importance” because remembering someone’s name acts as a small but significant compliment to that person. Notice how impersonal it feels when someone doesn’t use your first name and how those people who do use your first name seem to get a better response.

(3) “Reach Out and Touch Someone!” (Be careful how you use this one, especially in today’s paranoid culture!)

It’s been proven that a simple, often unnoticed touch when you’re talking to someone, “bonds” you in some small but important way.

It might simply be clasping their hand in yours as you shake hands or, as you’re talking to them, touching their sleeve lightly in the conversation.

(4) Compliment others when you recognize a job well done or see someone who goes out of their way to help in a situation. It seems as if so many people have been raised in homes where touching or personal compliments or encouragement has been missing that a simple compliment establishes you as someone special.

(5) Cultivate a Servant’s Heart. Recognizing and Complimenting someone’s efforts is a great way to cultivate a “servant’s” heart. Look for ways to help others without a reason to do so.

It’s the old, “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”

Not only will these actions make you stand out in people’s minds and hearts but it will make you feel great in the process.

(6) Concentrate on asking other people how they’re doing. And then…..wait for their answer and listen with passion and attention!

Too often we’re rehearsing our own agenda in our head and could care less about their response. This drastically lowers your EQ!

(7) Listen More. It’s amazing how great a conversationalist people think you are when you just listen to them.

When you truly listen to someone, without your own agenda getting in the way, that in itself often leads to a very powerful connection and often, a subtle healing in the other person since it’s so rare that we’re truly heard.

(8) Let Go of Perfection. That doesn’t mean not being accurate. Perfectionism is different than accuracy and trying to do everything “perfectly” too often leads to frustration and a lack of getting anything done.

(9) Focus on The Positive  and expand on it in situations, people and events. Remember your words are powerful.

This is obviously not a complete list of EQ qualities. Come up with your own. Sometimes the best way to do this is to examine your own life and the areas where you rank low in EQ and do the opposite!

That would be a good place to start. 

(10) If this makes senes and you want to raise your EQ, here’s a quiz that you can take: http://www.ihhp.com/free-eq-quiz.

After you take the quiz, you’ll know if you’re good relationship material, if you’re going to have a fun, productive, happy career or like Henry…you just, “shouldn’t be yourself!”

Try taking these tips into your world and experimenting with them, see how they work. You’ll notice a difference in your everyday relationships.

To your success, to a new sense of purpose in life and a much higher Emotional IQ!


Bert has also been an Aviation Writer and Copywriter, a former Licensed Professional Counselor, a certified leader of men in the ManKind Project and an obsessive community builder!

You can reach him at botajet@gmail.com.

Be well, stay safe but don’t let fear keep you “just being yourself…”