Come across with confidence in 2016
What is confidence?
Many people start the year with the resolve to become more confident. So what is confidence? Are confidence and self-esteem the same? While self-esteem is your inner sense of self-worth, confidence is how you come across and what others are able to observe about you. To consider your current level of confidence, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you express yourself clearly and unapologetically?
- Does your body language say you are calm and confident; does it give you authority?
- Do you recognise and convey your strengths, skills and qualities, appropriately and without arrogance?
- Do you present yourself positively, and never put yourself down?
- Do you act on your hopes and wishes rather than simply dreaming about them?
Resolutions – concrete, measurable, achievable
A major reason so many people make the same resolutions year after year, having failed to achieve them the year before, is that their resolutions are too vague. Therefore, it helps to break confidence down into several specific, measurable segments.
These particular questions above fall broadly into four categories: verbal expression, body language, sounding positive and being proactive. By breaking these down even further, the goals you set yourself will become more measurable, hence more achievable.
Six steps for starters
Here are six steps you can take towards increasing your confidence.
1. Avoid apologetic prefaces when you want to make a request, such as “I’m sorry to be a pain” or “I know you won’t be keen to do this” and state your needs, e.g. “I’d like you to have a look at this and let me have your comments” or “I’d be glad if you’d clear up this evening”.
2. Ask for help when you need it; that’s how we learn and grow. It isn’t an adverse reflection on what you know and can do. So rather than show hesitancy and uncertainty with phrases like “I hope you don’t mind me asking” or “Sorry to trouble you”, ask with confidence: “I’d appreciate your advice on/help with…”
3. Avoid the phrase “I don’t mind”. Each time you do this you dump the responsibility for decisions on others; you can lose sight of what you do want day to day and cease to be able to make decisions. If you genuinely don’t mind, it’s less confusing and more positive both for you and for others if you say “I’m happy with that”.
4. Use positive body language. Be aware of what your body language conveys. No matter how articulate you are, your words and intentions will be lost if you are inaudible, mumble, hunch your shoulders, fiddle with a pen or look down at the ground. Maintain a straight posture, keep good, pleasant eye contact, ensure your words are clear and your voice audible, that your gestures open and appropriate.
5. Never put yourself down. Think how it feels when you hear others say “I’m hopeless at this”, “I’ll never be able to do that”. It isn’t very pleasant to listen to. When you are negative about yourself, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy; you and others start to believe the things you say.
6. Be proactive. Go out and get the world; don’t wait for it to arrive at your door. Initiate conversations, rather than hoping they’ll happen and having to react. It gives you more energy if you are the one to pick up the phone or speak first. You will also be better prepared. Have courage to try what you find difficult and keep practising, for example, with a technological challenge or a request by your boss to deliver a presentation, no matter how scary it feels. In the words of author Susan Jeffers; “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. Who have you been meaning to call? Who would you like to speak to this week? What conversation do you want to have?
Together these steps offer a powerful combination for positive change. However, they are also extremely helpful when worked at a step at a time. Achieving one or all of these steps will help you to feel like you are making progress, increasing your confidence.
Finally, here are three of my favourite motivational quotes about confidence:
“No one can make your feel inferior without your consent.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
“The future depends on what we do in the present.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
"Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can." (Danny Kaye)
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