For those of us who feel speaking up at work is difficult whether in presentations, meetings, or simply in the workplace –it can feel like the loneliest place on earth! Fortunately, there is a way to navigate these difficult emotions, states, and habits. And it begins by understanding the importance of confidence as a skill. The very fact you are reading this article suggests you have already started that journey. Either way, it is important as this article will reveal to make your confidence growth your priority, a way of life rather than just something you will need on occasion at work. By implementing these 10 steps you will be well on your way to creating a more confident you!
Step 1: Reflect. Both on your past and more recent experiences and consider how confidence has both positively and/or negatively impacted how you perform and interact. Recognise that confident individuals tend to be perceived as more competent and capable, which can lead to increased opportunities and success in both personal and professional settings. By seeing this reality you should turn the gap into motivation. Making your present frustration fuel for your new learning and future performance!
Step 2: Examine self-limiting beliefs: Start by reviewing what assumptions you live by. You can do this yourself or with expert help. Either way, you must first identify any negative beliefs you have about your people skills and with that speaking abilities. Ask yourself if these beliefs are based on concrete evidence and whether that evidence is recent or distant past. Drawing a timeline will not only show you how our history can shape us but also help you decide if the assumptions we live by are in date or need to be challenged.
Often, our fears and doubts are not supported by recent evidence but are based on events from early years, meaning we are often living by self-limiting beliefs formed in childhood. The relevance test is a great way of updating our Mindset software and bringing what is logical and relevant into the present.
Step 3: Now that you understand that true self-confidence belief is based on more recent experiences. And so we start to gather evidence that is counter to and will challenge self-limiting beliefs: Engage in self-reflection and collect evidence that contradicts your self-limiting beliefs. Recall instances where you spoke with confidence or received positive feedback on your communication skills. Recognize that your negative beliefs may be holding you back from acknowledging your true abilities. A simple example might be the way you ordered coffee and had a great conversation with the barista, it might seem trivial on its own, but when viewed across all our interactions we start to build important portfolios of personal experiences and personal realities …in other words the PERSONALITY.
Step 4: Now we start to build the thinking practices that will help you achieve more in challenging circumstances whether that be speaking in meetings or just general day-to-day conversation. We begin by practicing positive self-talk and affirmations: Replace negative self-talk with positive and empowering statements. Create a bank of memories that support a new confidence narrative. For example, if the belief you want to live from is that you are bold and stand up against the crowd. You may choose to list down all moments from memory where you stood apart, something as simple as supporting a different team, or having sandwiches when others would canteen meals! It might seem ridiculous but it is still evidence that backs the new narrative – which you are willing to stand alone and have the confidence to do just that. Having this bank of exercises will help you remind yourself of your past successes and strengths with great ease.
With the examples in mind, you can now counter previous automated self-doubt-inducing thoughts with statements that challenge with memories, “I have valuable insights to share, and I communicate my ideas clearly just as I did when I argued my reasons at home to build an extension and won the support of most of my family!”
Step 5: Set achievable goals: The Journey towards true confidence will involve ups and downs, but like any large project it’s critical to break down your journey towards confident speaking into small, achievable goals.
To help this we recommend building daily structured momentum, this means starting with situations that are slightly challenging but manageable. An example could be communicating positively with a friend, or a neighbor, or having small talk with a stranger. You then gradually progress to more difficult scenarios which might involve more assertive communicative behaviour and might take place later in your day once you have achieved some confidence momentum.
Each time you achieve a micro-goal, celebrate your success and use it as evidence of your growing confidence. Also remember to add the achievements to your personal confidence story bank. The bank of stories that help you rethink your personal confidence narratives and beliefs.
Step 6: Engage in deliberate practice: Use every or almost every opportunity to step up you’re your confidence. This doesn’t have to be grand achievements either, it could be as simple as the body posture you adopt when walking into your office. Or how you choose to speak with people on the call. Being confident is a practice. In the same way practice speaking in various settings, such as team meetings, social gatherings, or mini presentations. Seek opportunities that are inside of your comfort and slightly outside your comfort zones to get familiar with sharing your thoughts and opinions. With each practice opportunity, focus on specific aspects you want to improve, such as maintaining eye contact, using persuasive language, or speaking with a confident tone.
Step 7: Add to your self-appraisal by seeking constructive feedback: Ask trusted individuals to provide honest feedback on your communication skills. An example of this may be extremely casual whilst having coffee with a friend ask the question – how do you think I come across? What gives the image of confidence, how do you feel I communicate, what could make it better? You could move on to a more creative step by asking strangers or people you interact with the reception staff , again what they feedback provides you with alternative perspective that you can use to build on and identify areas for improvement. Use their feedback as guidance for your practice sessions and keep refining your speaking abilities.
Step 8: Learn from role models and seek mentorship: Observe confident speakers and learn from their techniques. Analyze their body language, voice modulation, and delivery style. If possible, seek mentorship from experienced communicators who can provide guidance and support throughout your journey.
Step 9: Embrace discomfort and learn from failures: Understand that growth requires stepping outside your comfort zone. Embrace the discomfort that comes with challenging situations and view it as an opportunity for personal and professional development. Learn from any failures or setbacks, using them as lessons to refine your approach and build resilience.
Step 10: Cultivate a self-fulfilling belief system: Recognize the power of your beliefs in shaping your reality. Develop a positive and self-fulfilling belief system by consistently reinforcing the idea that you are a confident and effective communicator. Visualize successful interactions, use positive affirmations, and approach speaking opportunities with a growth mindset.
By following these logical and evidence-based steps, while incorporating self-fulfilling beliefs, you can gradually overcome difficulties in speaking with confidence and become a more effective communicator in both personal and professional contexts.