Even the most seemingly self-assured person will get their confidence knocked from time to time. (And by the way, it’s worth stopping to think about what ‘confidence’ really is about for you, as that loudmouth may be compensating for what they think are their shortcomings, whilst the more reserved soul may be absolutely confident in their abilities.) I think confidence, like energy, isn’t something we have in static levels all the time. We need to nurture and cultivate it.
I’m willing to bet that the woman doing this impressive somersault had a few goes before this picture was taken. Practice is essential to build and maintain our confidence. So don’t put off practising for your next presentation; take time to run through it several times, preferably on your feet and out loud, and preferably recorded into your smartphone (well, wouldn’t you rather be the first person who sees how you’re doing?) You can practise something you enjoy by joining a club or group, for example dancing or reading poetry.
2.Get a mentor
This can be a life-saver when you’re new at an employer. A mentor – not your direct manager, but someone who knows the ropes at your new workplace – can help you avoid breaking all those unwritten rules that can trip up the unwary newbie. Mentors can also help build your confidence by acting as a sounding board as you think through different options.
3.Teach what you know
Got a specialism? A great way to boost your confidence is to take that knowledge and teach someone else. Whether it’s analysing a data set, using social media wisely or building business relationships – whatever your skill, find a way to use it to support others’ development. You could do this 1:1 or with a group, formally in an in-house session or with your professional network; however you go about it, as you teach you will learn just how much you really do know and the value it has.
4.Discover your strengths
We can’t all be brilliant at everything. Phew. But what are your ‘signature strengths’? Life becomes much simpler, easier and more straightforward when we identify what we’re naturally good at. Find your strengths, then use them on a daily basis and your confidence will grow.
And never being one to miss a shameless plug opportunity, you can also contact me for a Strengthscope® profile report.
5.Chart your progress
So let’s say you want to be more confident about speaking up in meetings. You can set yourself a goal of contributing to the discussion in your next meeting at least twice (remember, you don’t have to come out with anything earth-shattering: a simple yet thought-provoking question may be a great contribution). Next meeting you’ll make three contributions and so on. Chart your progress using a simple note or an app, but be sure to check in after each of your meetings.
6.Create a mood board
Take and build a collection of photos of you looking – and being – confident. They could be your graduation day, you proudly riding your bike without stabilisers for the first time, or simply having a great time with friends. Any subject matter as long as you look confident in yourself. You can add inspirational quotes if they help. Update your mood board and keep it handy.
No, I don’t know the science behind this but I do know it works for many people. Singing makes the vast majority of us feel pretty darn good about life in general and ourselves in particular. You can organise a karaoke evening, or sing in a choir, at a concert or in your car. OK, the shower. Or all the foregoing. Just sing.
8.Get involved with your professional association
If you lack confidence and want to boost it, instead of just trying and failing to be mega-confident from a standing start, try being useful. Your professional association is a great place to start. These organisations are always looking for people to help organise events, sit on committees and help raise standards. You’ll be able to network without having to use the ‘n’ word.
9.Study confident people
By this I don’t just mean Google someone famous and read random blogs about them, and gawp (whilst sighing with longing) at their social media feeds and retouched photos. No. I mean really study someone you believe to be confident – and I’m willing to bet they’ll have had times when they weren’t confident, at all. So watch them intently when they’re under pressure, read up on them (auto/biographies are full of crises of confidence – how were they overcome?), find interviews with them and aim to boil down how they bounce back, and which elements of that can work for you. Broaden your repertoire of role models and build your own personal recipe.
Well of course I’d say that – having just had ‘The Feedback Book’ published. But really, feedback is often called ‘the breakfast of champions’ for good reason. Even Olympic gold winners need feedback on their performance in order to tweak and fine-tune those all-important marginal gains. Seek feedback on what you want to improve – check out my tips on asking for feedback in this post – and be sure to a) thank the feedback giver and b) act upon what they say.
Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’, available at selected branches of WH Smith and on Amazon.