Over the last several years I have been on a mission to increase my confidence. I am better than I used to be but still have some bad habits. Until recently I was blissfully unaware until I got some feedback from my last job interview
“you know your stuff but you need to show more confidence in yourself”
This was pretty surprising as I thought I was coming across confident. Upon reflection I realise that there are areas that I can focus on to make myself appear more confident.
I am a bad negative self-talker that 90% of the time I don’t realise I am doing it. This goes down to talking myself down, telling myself I am going to fail or just generally seeing the negative point from a situation.
To improve this I am going to reverse exactly what I do in my head – talk myself up, telling myself I am going to succeed and seeing the positive from each situation.
The risk is I become so successful at telling myself positive thoughts that I become arrogant or big headed – who am I kidding that will never happen… does that count as a negative thought telling myself that I can’t achieve arrogance or big headedness… why am I writing down all the thoughts in my head….
Think about your groups
Walking past a very senior manager who I vaguely knew in the corridor made me a bit nervous. I put my head down and didn’t say anything. Other times I walk past people and give a very feeble “hello…” or “alright…” in a weak creaky voice.
Later that day I meet some friends where I was laughing, joking and talking louder than the rest. Just by doing so my voice was strong and powerful.
This made me think how I speak to different groups:
- My wife
- My parents
- The parents-in-law
- Elderly relatives
- People I work closely with
- People who work in my building who I don’t know
- Senior management
I realised a simple approach to get better at talking to people I am not comfortable talking to is imagine that they are one of the groups I am confident speaking with – though naturally I have to avoid being overly familiar or resorting to filthy jokes.
Posture – wear your cape
I was listening to Tony Robbins and one of his exercises he recommended imaging that the listener pretended they was wearing a cape.
Standing up I stood there, puffed my chest out and raised my shoulders. After feeling like an idiot subsided I actually felt quite good – I felt taller, I was looking ahead and it made me feel more confident.
Since getting my cape I have taken to walking around the work place in my new more confident posture. I am not sure if it has made any difference yet apart from having a sore back, but I have found I have made better eye contact with people, received a few more smiles and hellos.
Reflect, reflect, reflect
As part of this goal, I have decided to keep a log of my progression with confidence – where I have had failures in confidence, noticed others showing confidence or shown a lack of confidence and insecurity.
In my role as a manager I have already noted down issues where I am working with people who are much more confident than me. I write down all the doubts I have. From these thoughts I write solutions why my doubts are not true.
In closing it feels good to start thinking about this soft skill again. It’s been a long time since I have really thought about assertiveness and confidence, which is a good thing because I obviously have felt improvement in these areas, but it is good to not get complacent as I still have much more that I can do to become a new man.