Confidence

by Melanie Greene

Common questions

  1. What is confidence?
  2. Are you just born confident?
  3. What is the link between confidence and being extraverted?
  4. Can you become too confident; can it become unhelpful?
  5. Can you act/seem confident even if you are not?
  6. How can I find out what stops me from being confident?
  7. But how can I stop the voice in my head that always tells me I am not good enough?
  8. Do I need to become perfect to be confident? How do I know when I am correct or a job has been well done?
  9. How can I be more confident about other people’s ability to do what I want them to do?
  10. How do I develop other people’s confidence?

 

1. What is confidence?

Confidence in ourselves is feeling happy about who we are, what we do and our capabilities. Some people are confident the whole time, while for others it comes and goes. Most people will have varying levels of self confidence, depending on the circumstances they are in.

We know that when we feel confident it is a great state to be in. We trust ourselves to handle whatever is going to occur and we believe we have the abilities to handle what is ahead of us. We feel relaxed; we tend to go with the flow and respond naturally to those around us.

Because inner confidence tends to be reflected in how we look and sound, others can also spot when someone is truly confident and at one with themselves.

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2. Are you just born confident?

It can often seem that some people are just born confident. From a very young age, they are happy to explore new environments, interact with new people and try out new activities. Those who are not like this can feel that confidence is totally down to nature and genes, so there is nothing they can do about it. However, many people who were less than confident when young subsequently develop into confident adults. Also, people who are confident most of the time can suddenly lack confidence in certain situations. So it is not just something we inherit or something that is static and about which you can’t do anything.

Therefore, although some people might start off life appearing or even being more confident than others, that does not mean that the rest of us can’t and won’t become more confident in time. Using the techniques in this topic will assist you developing and strengthening your self confidence.

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3. What is the link between confidence and being extraverted?

People also often assume that extraversion equates with confidence and introversion with a lack of confidence, but this is not true. Extraverts and introverts just relate to the world in different ways and appear to others differently. People with a preference for extraversion enjoy interacting with the outside world, and that is where they get their energy. They will happily bounce ideas around with others and tend to think out loud, thereby appearing very confident. Those with an introversion preference enjoy working through things on their own before sharing their ideas with others. They also prefer to think before they speak, and can therefore appear quieter, even more hesitant and thus unconfident. They might be very confident, but they simply communicate in a different way.

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4. Can you become too confident; can it become unhelpful?

We can probably all think of someone who is overly confident, perhaps even being unbearably arrogant or overestimating their own abilities, even resulting in mistakes. You can also probably think of some individuals who are so under confident that you never get to hear what they think, and they don’t seem to contribute anything to the situation or they never stop worrying about things. So it does appear that too much or too little confidence can have a negative impact on someone’s ability to work effectively.

However, you will also know people who are very confident and also wonderful to work with. They listen to others ideas, support and encourage others, celebrate others successes and so on. So what is it that makes a difference and stops them from being arrogant and walking all over others? It is likely to be a mixture of many different things and will vary from individual to individual, but it might include having an interest in other people plus a natural leaning towards supporting others, and having a sense of humility about their own strengths and successes together with a recognition that success comes through people working together not through competitive and uncooperative behaviour

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5. Can you act/seem confident even if you are not?

A lot of people get through life appearing confident, when inside they feel like a nervous wreck! However, this is not an enjoyable way of life and not the most effective way of being and working, because it can mean some or all of the following:

  • You over-prepare because you worry so much about things going wrong
  • You lose sleep the night before big presentations, meetings and so on, which means you are not on top form the next day
  • You hold back from putting forward your ideas because you think they are not valid
  • You hold back from going for promotion or a new job or your dreams because you don’t think you are good enough
  • You over-analyse situations that happen, rather than trusting your inner wisdom

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6. How can I find out what stops me from being confident?

People often think that what stops them feeling confident is some external factor, such as

  • A particular situation in which they doubt their ability to handle matters effectively
  • Doing a particular task or activity that hooks their doubts about themselves
  • A particular person who treats them in a certain way, undermining their confidence.

In essence, however, it is how we relate to and react to the situation, task or person that leaves us feeling confident or not. When you think about the particular situation, task or person, you will have various thoughts running through your head, pictures in your head (positive, negative or neutral), which in turn affect how you feel: positive or negative, confident or not, relaxed or nervous. This, in turn, can affect your behaviour and performance. So sometimes our lack of confidence in ourselves can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. And we end up saying ‘See? I knew I was no good at doing X...’

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7. But how can I stop the voice in my head that always tells me I am not good enough?

Many people have a negative inner dialogue going on within them, with an inner critic constantly berating them with negative messages like

  • You’ll never be good enough to do that job
  • Why did you say that in the meeting?
  • You still not achieved X or Y
  • You are hopeless!

Fortunately, there are many actions you can take to counter the effects of your inner critic.

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8. Do I need to become perfect to be confident? How do I know when I am correct or a job has been well done?

There is something I call the ‘tyranny of perfectionism’, which happens when people believe that to be successful they have to be perfect and get everything right first time. Now, looking at many successful business people, we know that this is not true. However, if you feel that you suffer from perfectionism, you might want to use the exercises in this topic to get a more realistic assessment of the activities you do.

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9. How can I be more confident about other people’s ability to do what I want them to do?

Usually the lack of confidence in others says more about the manager’s personality, confidence levels and their ability to manage and communicate with others than it does about the other person’s capabilities.

When a manager lacks confidence in others, either in their team or outside it, this can have a negative result, not just on performance, but also on working relationships.

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10. How do I develop other people’s confidence?

Self confidence is an inner experience; it is about how individuals think and feel about themselves. Therefore, you need to support them in using some of the ideas and techniques in this section to assist them in building their own confidence. However, how you interact with them will have an impact on their confidence. As each individual is different, you might what to find out from them what they need from you in terms of how you communicate and work with them. They might, for example, benefit from you

  • Noticing when things go well and providing them with feedback on what they did which resulted in success
  • Showing appreciation and thanking them for the work that they do and/or when they put in extra effort
  • Providing constructive feedback on things that they need to change, that helps them to know how they can develop themselves further
  • Providing the right kind of training or coaching support to develop their confidence, skills and abilities

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