Do you switch personality, changing your style or voice to engage colleagues and managers or your friends and family? Do you struggle to connect with some people? Do you get nervous and shaky before an important meeting? Do you want to seem stronger and achieve consistency and act authentically in all of your communications ?
The Complexity of Confidence
While it’s not appropriate to voice every thought and drop all social barriers, communicating with integrity is invaluable. A lack of confidence can cause us to project a false image of ourselves, a picture we might see as a more successful version. This tendency may be beneficial in some contexts, but it could also cause you to lose touch with yourself and ultimately undermine your self-confidence. Wearing a social mask is exhausting and alienating. How can we truly connect with others without expressing our ideas?
The key to confident communication is understanding your own authority, yes you do have some! When you understand the strength of your convictions and what you base your communication on your voice can become stronger. It will stem from a solid basis of certainty, you will come across as more assured in your ideas and decisions. In a modern workforce finding such authority is challenging because we are expected to step into a variety of tasks and manage peers without subject matter expertise. What’s more, middle and senior management roles have been stripped and are based on less formal titles. These changes can gradually undermine confidence; that nagging voice of self-doubt can steadily grow, envelop and overwhelm. Imposter syndrome can creep up and take over.
When we lack confidence, it doesn’t matter how capable we are. Low self-esteem undermines capacity and creativity because we aren’t secure enough to take risks. Consistently taking the safe option blends you in, you no longer stand out, which can d impairs your professional progress. You don’t need to be louder to be heard. By tapping into and expressing your authentic self, you can increase your presence.
Many of us don’t fit into the stereotype of a ‘confident’ personality, someone that walks into the room boisterous and demanding attention. This sort of confidence can sometimes appear cocky and arrogant. There is a middle ground between wallflower and loudspeaker – it’s quiet confidence. Follow these tips and build your confidence and authenticity.
1. Be present
When engaging in negative self-talk, we are tuning out of the world and being too into our head. It is up to us to be conscious of our experiences. Rather than getting caught up in the stream of bubbling thought, focus on your breath. Gently note when that internal bully is undermining your confidence. Take a moment to return to concrete reality, notice the environment, extend your concentration into your body and count the inhales and exhales. With fresh eyes then return to your task, your conversation or presentation. You don’t need to be a meditation master to be more present, self awareness and the ability to catch yourself before you spiral into negativity and lack of confidence helps enormously. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
2. Speak Up
Now you’re more present and you’re ready to assess the situation you can decide when to ‘blow your own trumpet’ or voice a strong opinion. Adam Galinsky carefully examined the difficulty of knowing when to speak up. He argues that each person has an acceptable range of behaviours which changes according to context. When we lack power, our range of behaviour narrows and we get punished if we speak up.
Power is a contested concept that comes in multiple forms. One way to understand power is through our alternatives. When we are more powerful, we can decide how to behave and what to say.
Power can be divided into how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. By increasing confidence, we also expand our range of acceptable behaviours because we gain power in how we see ourselves. When we feel powerful, our range of options increase and when others see us as powerful, they increase our range.
Have a listen to Galinsky’s other useful tips for speaking up in his Ted talk:
3. Be a Product of your Brand
Presenting a coherent personal brand to underpin your actions and communication can help build confidence. When we are faithful to our intuitions, we can think less and save energy for more important things. Authenticity requires self-awareness, take time to note your strengths and weaknesses. Kevin Kruse ) also recommends that you show your emotions when you communicate to connect with your employees and colleagues. Connecting your values to your topic will allow you to lead with passion and be more consistent.
This can be a lot to remember and adopt, especially in a work environment where we’re under pressure to perform. The Colin James Method® specialises in improving your communication skills and developing your career. Our one-day-workshop, The Confident Communicator, delves into the methodology for self-improvement, breaking down the steps to communicate better 1:1 and in meetings. The course is delivered in an interactive and friendly environment. It provides personalised feedback that identifies your strengths to form that solid base of confidence and authority.
Alison Carter is a facilitator and coach at The Colin James Method® and Inner Profit Pty Ltd, a vibrant leadership development company in Australia. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant who has spent over 15 years in senior financial and communication roles. She now loves to share her passion for the design and delivery of effective and engaging communications.