Here are some insights on how to successfully master the inner game and how to boost confidence irrespective of how you may feel about yourself:
A reader writes: “People tell me that I came across as confident, but I just don’t feel that way inside. Can you give me some tips on how I can feel more confident?””
This is one of the commonest issues that clients’ raise. Almost every single one of my recent clients is addressing their confidence levels, and it may surprise you to learn that in my experience, it is an area where business coaching can make a dramatic difference. Increases in confidence can be achieved by setting a specific goal such as “Feel more confident, positive and self-believing than ever before”, or simply by working with a coach to deal with key work/life areas.
Whether you prefer to work with a business coach or on your own, I recommend that once your goals are set, you answer these questions which clients usually find eye-opening: What adds to my confidence? What detracts from it? In which situations do I feel confident? In which situations do I feel not confident? I also ask clients to rate their confidence levels from in different areas of work/life. A rating of 10 means they feel very confident in an area and 0 means they have zero confidence. It can also be useful to look at when you feel confident and don’t demonstrate it, and when you have demonstrated in and not felt it.
This exercise is likely to bring you various insights and may well raise your feelings of confidence as it does for my clients. Here are some of the insights my clients have had along with an idea of how we worked with them.
Feeling criticized often reduces confidence levels. One of my clients who leads a business team feels particularly defensive when criticized by bosses when he makes a mistake. I asked him how he feels about valued team members who make a mistake. “I still value them” he says. Given that he values his team, he was then able to see that his bosses value him too. By looking at criticism as feedback, he was able to not only look at it differently but also appreciate it, and sustain his confidence levels”. Simply being more organized also helped him feel in control and boosted his confidence.
I have another client who learnt he was holding back his confidence in some areas for fear that he might appear big-headed and might be the catalyst for others feeling “less than”. His learnings were around practicing displaying confidence and humility. He started to realize that when he displayed his confidence in these ways, he unconsciously gave permission for others to do the same.
Needing to be an expert is another confidence trap that I have seen clients fall into. Simply letting go of that need, and having workable “contingency plans” in situations where you don’t know, often works wonders here. For example, one client was expected to present information to his team, some of which he didn’t fully understand and time pressures didn’t allow him to ask. Together we devised a plan whereby he challenged his team members to give their opinions on why the information might be required.
We all talk to ourselves, and disempowering self-talk is a real confidence drainer. To address this, I invite clients to notice and write down their self talk. We then work together to change the disempowering words to empowering or neutral ones. I have a client who naturally does this herself. When a career opportunity that she had spent much time and energy investing in went awry, she dealt with her disappointment speedily by identifying her learning and by looking at the upsides of not being involved with it.
Other confidence boosting tips I recommend that work are:
As a coach, I find that I naturally believe in my clients’ abilities. As I do so, they start to assimilate more and more self belief and confidence themselves. If you don’t have a coach who can do this for you, perhaps a trusted friend, colleague or family member could take this role for you.
Whatever areas we work on, I have never had a coaching client who didn’t leave coaching with higher levels of confidence (irrespective of their starting point), so do seriously consider coaching if you want to feel more confident.
What does being confident mean to you?
This article was written by Karen Skehel