When I wrote last week about trust, it occurred to me that often people decide how trustworthy you are based on how confident they think you are. Too confident and you can appear untrustworthy, like the proverbial car sales person. Not confident enough and you can appear indecisive and unreliable.
If you knew me, you would probably say I was a confident person. In fact, the other day, someone told me that it must be alright for me; it was almost an accusation, purely of being a naturally confident person. The implication was that I didn’t have to do anything, just be myself and hey presto, I could just be confident.
I only wish that was true! Just like many other people my levels of confidence are much more about how I feel, which in turn drives my behaviour. If I’m anxious about a situation, concerned about what the potential risks are, worried about how safe it is to voice my opinion or ask questions, I’m much less likely to behave in a confident way.
When I reviewed Amy Brann’s research on the synaptic circle, I wasn’t surprised to read that people often lose confidence because the situation they are in has invoked a neurological threat response. What I had forgotten was that the threat does not have to be real to have this effect.
This made me think about how I behave to make people think I’m naturally confident, when in fact, sometimes, my threat response might have taken off and I’m not feeling confident at all.
I think there are five key things that are personal to me, they are:
- I am a planner, I can’t help it. I just am. I find the more I plan and prepare, the more confident I become.
- My feelings are not my body language. Over the years I have trained myself to look calm, even when I don’t feel it. I often match the pace of others around me to keep me from speeding up. This works particularly well if I want to slow down how fast I am speaking and when I get nervous, trust meI can speak very quickly indeed!
- I sit on my hands and count! Mad I know, but I find that if my brain is racing ahead, this helps me slow down enough to keep centred and concentrate on what is actually happening now, not what could happen, or what I could or should do.
- If possible, I summarise what is happening. This helps me check that I am on the right track, but also helps me check out how other people are feeling. The more certain I feel about those things the more confident I feel.
- I rehearse. When what I say and how I am going to say it is going to make a difference, I take time out beforehand to practise and rehearse. I often record what I have said so I can critique it too. Then I’m much more relaxed about it when I have to do the real thing.
These might seem a bit random, but they help me. No doubt you have your own ways of feeling more confident too. Perhaps the most important thing of all is to recognise that feeling confident is about learning to control your body’s natural threat responses, finding something that works for you and making sure you do it.
We all need good habits to support us. Check out our webinar for more information on creating good habits.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.
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