"Believe you can and you're halfway there." Theodore Roosevelt
Confidence is a funny thing. Those that appear extremely confident can be intimidating to others who struggle to speak up and get themselves heard, but are often no more confident within, than the quieter among us.
In the workplace, outward confidence doesn't necessarily equal particularly greater competence at getting the job done. It can however lead people to unconsciously gravitate towards the seemingly more confident in the office, despite the fact that research shows this to have no direct correlation on how good a person is at their job.
Now I'm not really a naturally confident person but over time I guess I've learned to fake it when needed. You know the old 'fake it till you make it' saying? Well sometimes, especially in a working environment, this is exactly what you have to do. So with that in mind here are some of my favourite tips for faking confidence when it matters most!
5 FABULOUS CONFIDENCE FAKING TIPS!
1. Watch Your Posture And Smile: This is really as simple as making sure you stand or sit up straight in a situation where you need to feel and project an air of confidence. Slouching not only makes you look uncertain and nervous but it also makes you feel that way internally. Standing tall will instantly create a feeling of strength and don't forget to add a bright smile to your face! This will help you to feel more confident personally and will welcome in those around you, putting them at ease.
Before entering a situation where confidence is key try this quick exercise from The Little Book Of Confidence (pictured above):
- Raise your head up
- Straighten your back
- Gently push your shoulders back
- Take up more space with your pose
Useful read - Body Language: It's What You Don't Say That Matters by Robert Phipps.
2. Reframe Fear As Excitement: When you're faced with a daunting task or situation in the working environment, or indeed in life, then tell yourself that those jittery nerves are excitement and not just fear. Embrace that excitement and use it in a positive way to drive you forward with enthusiasm. Use that adrenalin wisely and let positive thoughts out weigh the negative. Be excited about what you will learn and take away from the experience that you're about to embark on. Thinking this way can take some practice but it really can help.
3. Be Present And Listen: When we get nervous and feel our confidence failing us it's very easy to become a blabbering wreck! Watch out for this pitfall because it can have a negative impact on how people see you as an effective communicator. Choosing your words thoughtfully and carefully is important. Take time and most importantly learn to listen at least twice as much as you speak. It's about learning how to have a balanced conversation without making it all about you, or doing the opposite and not saying anything at all. It takes a little getting used to but think about what you want to say and give yourself space to approach each situation mindfully and with balance.
4. Be Kind To Yourself: One of the things that people who don't have a lot of immediate confidence do all too easily is to beat themselves up about every little thing they should or shouldn't have said or done. I do it all the time but I have to force myself to turn off those voices and be a little kinder to myself. We are our own worst critics and, whilst some reflection is always useful, when it becomes damaging to your progress and wellbeing then it's time to take a stand! Be kind to yourself - if you get something wrong, let it go. You are only human and you can only do your very best. Learn from mistakes, forgive yourself the error and then move on to the next thing.
5. Just Do It! Putting off stepping up to the plate and being confident, perhaps when it comes to making a speech or giving a presentation, is only going to delay the fear and slow your personal growth. There comes a time in life when you just have to step off of the ledge and let yourself fly. So often when we actually go for it we come away feeling elated and wondering why we didn't face our fear sooner. So at the end of the day the only way to grow your confidence, enhance your career and move forward in your life is to shake off all of the doubts and just go for it!
I really hope this advice helps some of you facing issues with confidence at work or in life. Like I say, I don't consider myself to be the most confident of people, but I have learned over time that if you put the work in you can definitely grow and make others (and yourself) believe in your confidence, ability and strengths.
The most important take away from the five tips above for me is to be kind to yourself. Yes you do have to work on becoming more confident and stepping out of your comfort zone, but continually beating yourself up for being a bit quieter than everyone else, or for feeling a little fear now and again, is really no way to make yourself feel better. Trust me as time goes on you will look back and realise how far you've come, but in the meantime allow yourself the space to make mistakes without punishing yourself. After all, you're doing your best and that's really all that matters.