The confident person copes with setbacks, learns from mistakes, seizes opportunities, handles difficult situations. That’s the kind of confidence which comes from a mixture of self-knowledge and self-assurance, and having the courage and determination to take action.
But even those who seem to have a natural abundance of this enviable quality are not confident all the time. Everyone has their moments or periods of anxiety and self-doubt.
We all find some situations more daunting than others. We can apply for a promotion at work, but can’t walk into a social gathering or go to the cinema alone. We can confront someone who bullies our child, but can’t ask for a second medical opinion. We can make a speech at the club or to the school board, but feel we haven’t got the guts to go for that dramatically different new hairstyle that is calling to us.
If this is you, don’t despair. You are actually in a good starting place. Facing up to doubts and insecurities is the first step to dealing with them.
Don’t put yourself down, saying how rubbish you are and how you’ll never be able to do whatever it is that is challenging you.
At the same time, you might go easy on the self-affirming statements. Telling yourself you can do anything you set your mind to – hmm, really? And repeating claims that you are awesome and unique – yes, of course you are, we all are. We’re human. That is not going to help you get the job or speak firmly to the utilities company.
Use these confidence-boosting statements if you find them helpful, but it is more helpful to look at what you need to learn and to do in order to move forward.
Step One: Prepare
Preparation is the key. You will become more confident about challenging situations at work if you think about things such as the people involved, strategies you could use, who you need to talk to, what words you need to use.
- Get the right words.
- Prepare key phrases.
- Practise speaking.
- Get the right tone.
- Ask someone to listen and give you feedback.
- Work on your body language.
- Practise confident gestures.
- Think through the situation you are dreading. Imagine the best and the worst scenarios. Decide what approach you will take at each stage.
You remember those people at school who sailed through exams, claiming to have done no preparation or study or revision at all? They were lying.
Step Two: Play The Role
When you have done your preparation, you’re ready to step into the role. Behave like the nicely confident job applicant, or interviewer, or host, or speaker, or participant, or party or wedding guest.
Yes, you may be faking it, but your behaviour will affect the way that you feel, so that your playacting becomes reality.
This process is enhanced when you find that people respond to you at face value – they see what you give them, they don’t see into your soul. And even if they could, they would see increasing confidence, right?
Smokey Robinson tells us how to keep up an outward show. He plays the part of someone who is over a broken romance. He wears a smile to fool the public, and gives a show of gladness. He appears to be carefree. But inside, he’s sadder than sad, and in his lonely room he cries The Tears Of A Clown. Playing the part might help him to recover. We hope so.
Everyone can become more confident. We can work on our thoughts and our behaviour so that we change the habits which hold us back.
So about that brave new hairdo. Your preparation tells you it will suit you? It will work for your lifestyle? You can afford it? You have identified the right hairdresser? See you in the salon.