A Thick Skin Starts With A Brave Face

It’s funny we often use the word “thick” to describe someone’s lack of intelligence or common sense in their ways of thinking, talking or behaving. Interestingly, when it comes to the skin – the largest organ in the human body, we refer “thick-skinned” to people who aren’t easily hurt, offended or embarrassed by criticism or people’s negative comments. The word “thick” in this context, isn’t too bad at all. Judging by its whole meaning, we can all agree on the positive connotations the come with it. Obviously, we’d rather be thick in the skin than in the head, wouldn’t we?

I wasn’t born with a thick skin. Throughout my life I often consider myself as a thin-skinned, introverted person. Wearing this inward label every day, has it been serving me well up to this point? The answer is I wish I could’ve been more thick-skinned in many cases. If you’re sick of sitting on the sidelines, perhaps it’s time to think about cultivating a thick skin mentality and incorporating it into your personality? Wouldn’t it be nice if we can call upon it only when a situation is required, other times we just relax and stay the way we are? The question is always the same. When facing a new challenge, the first thing that pops up is: Where should I start? What’s the first step I should be taking before I can hone the skill? What should I do to increase the chances of success? I don’t know if there’s a rule book I can follow but instead of searching far and wide, going above and beyond, a better place to start is where we’re right now. Read on and find out where I started.

A couple of weeks ago my CEO called me to his office. It turned out he wanted me take on an office project – refurbishing part of the workplace. He was very specific about what he wanted it to look like. My task was simply to find someone who can do just that. Because I already had a couple of contacts on file who specialized in this type of thing, I was very confident from the outset that I’d achieve a good outcome. Interestingly, right before I stepped out of his office, he looked at me with a grin on his face then left an unexpected remark – go out and spend the money! I wasn’t 100% sure if he was serious but I wasn’t going to treat it like a joke.

While I wasn’t given a budget to run this project, I was very careful about where the money would go. In other words, I didn’t want to spend it like there’s no tomorrow. Over a course of a week, the consultant came back to me with a quote that seemed a bit too dear. When I presented it to my CEO, he looked at it and approved it straight away. I thought, Gee that was fast. There was no point for me to stand there and argue with him. I was happy to leave it at that. But, part of me still believed there was a room for price negotiation. So, did I do anything about it?

It was a venture completely outside my comfort zone. A day after the quote was approved by my CEO, I turned around, put on a brave face and called the consultant. I could feel I was mumbling and my voice was shaky. My message was kind of subtle and blurry but he totally got it – I wanted to get the price down. He asked me how much. I paused, refused to give away my bottom line. Before I hung up, he knew it was a matter of  “the ball is in his court”. A few hours later, he came back to me with a revised quote – way better than I expected, a total saving of AUD $600.00. I cheered inside. That’s enough to buy our team a plenty of pizzas. Thick crust or thin crust you may ask? I don’t care…

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