How can you be more confident?
This is a very common topic which my clients want to work on.
Confidence is something that most people want a bit more of.
Maybe you need more confidence in your social life so you feel at ease meeting new people or have the courage to go out and try to meet new people. Or perhaps you want to speak up more at work, either in meetings or with your manager. Maybe you want to travel, but feel self-conscious about setting out on your own. Perhaps you experience the 'impostor syndrome'; you are doing a job but feel you are about to be found out (as a fraud) any day now!
It might surprise you to know that all of these are very common.
The biggest mistake most people make is thinking that everyone else is confident and outgoing. Many people who appear confident are like the proverbial ducks in the pond - gliding along on the surface but paddling like mad under it. This has applied to clients who are CEOs and, to all intents and purposes, appear full of confidence.
You are either confident or you are not
No. For many people confidence is something you work at until you become more confident. Okay, some people are naturally extrovert. But don't forget that some very confident people are covering up deep insecurities and their behaviour is a mask.
Fake it at first
In order to appear and become confident you have to act it. Don't wait for 'confidence' to suddenly manifest itself in you. It rarely does. You have to fake it first. One of the best ways to do this is to study other confident people.
Confident people usually speak quite slowly and with purpose. They don't gabble or squeak.
They make eye contact, either one-to-one or scanning the room.
When they enter a room they stand tall, not with rounded shoulders or looking at the floor.
They make others feel important and valued by listening to them and not putting them down.
Think of someone you admire who is confident, like you want to be. Imagine how they would behave in a particular situation. Then copy that. I had a client who was terrified of going into a garage showroom, which, let's face it, can be a bit intimidating sometimes; all those gleaming cars and enthusiastic sales people. We agreed she'd go and ask for a brochure, just one small step, then she could leave, all the time visualising how her friend - who was really confident- would behave. At the next session I asked how she'd got on: had she got that brochure? Yes, but more than that: she'd bought the car. Knowing it was a tiny step - she could walk out, leave at any time and never need see them again- partly gave her the confidence to keep going.
So you do have to fake it at first. Eventually it will become easier until one day you realise you aren't faking it at all.
So what small step can you take today to build your confidence? Think of where you want to appear confident. In a social situation you could promise yourself to talk to a stranger in a queue, at the bus stop, in a shop. Another client had the tiny target to make eye contact with someone in a supermarket. So instead of head-down, grab a bunch of bananas, she'd wait a bit and smile at someone - just a bit. Another client made an effort to talk to their colleagues by the vending machine at work and be more sociable, or offered to grab someone a coffee when they went to get their own.
If you want to be confident at work, set a small goal such as speaking up once in the next meeting you're in.
With any kind of personal development you have to push yourself a bit. It might be scary but if you don't try it, you will remain stuck. So the trick is to choose a goal so small that you will achieve it. In reality you might exceed it.
And keep a log. If you record every small step towards your goal, on a daily basis, you can read your achievements at the end of the week and realise how far you have come.
If you;d like some 1:1 help with this, get in touch.
I'm Glynis, a coach for clients somewhere in midlife, helping them get the life they want. I work with them on careers, time-management, relationships and lots more. These are my musings on what life throws at people like us. You can read more about me here. Do get in touch if I can help you.