Credibility is essential for inspiring trust in others and getting ahead at work. You need to enhance your credibility if you want a promotion, to take your business to the next level, or just kill it in life. The easiest way to do this? With confidence.
Crisis of confidence
Between the relentless successes, luminous good health and life’s-a-party propaganda of social media, we are in the midst of a crisis of confidence. We are both closer and further away from each other than ever before.
The Latin origin of confidence is confidere, meaning “to trust, to have faith in”. Belief and faith are emotional, and feelings vacillate, sometimes wildly. We may be on top of the world one day and a sobbing mess the next. In business or at work, we can’t rely something so changeable.
Confidence is also a verb. Treating confidence as an action allows us to transform our beliefs and feelings, rather than letting our feelings dictate our actions.
Think about the example of a flaky friend, who promises the world while repeatedly lets you down. After a while, your faith in your friend’s words disappears.
When we act with confidence, we’re demonstrating our self-belief to ourselves – as well as to others. Consistently acting confident, despite feeling nervous or fearful, helps us accumulate experience. There’s no better way to build deep self-confidence than through the accumulation of experience, and all the positive affirmations in the world won’t convince you to believe yourself if you fail to follow through and act.
So how do you practise self-confidence?
1. Take small steps
Our minds are sneaky. Before your mind has a moment to talk yourself out of taking bold, decisive action, take a tiny step in the right direction. Line up the meeting with the boss. Update your CV. Write your ‘help wanted’ ad for your business. Write your new rates card. Small steps ignite momentum and have the effect of slowing down self-criticism.
2. Create a couple of small victories
Start with the easiest thing you can achieve, right now, and use these little victories to exercise your confidence muscle towards the bigger, scarier stuff. Leap from small challenge to big. Follow all wins with further action. As they say in sales, the best time to make a sales call is straight after a successful sales call.
3. Manipulate your mood
Too often, our rational brain is the victim of our emotional brain. This doesn’t need to be so. You can manipulate your mood, starting with the very first thing you do or think of when you wake up in the morning. Other powerful mood enhancers include great music, dancing, fresh healthy food (and coffee!), quality clothing that you love wearing, straight posture and smiling.
4. Draw interest from your bank
Pause and acknowledge your successes to yourself – not just over a celebratory drink with colleagues. Lie on the floor and remember an experience where you felt proud of yourself. Feel the experience in your body. Bring the memory into your present and relive it. This is how you draw interest from your bank of self-confidence.
5. Questioning is intelligence
Not only is it totally normal to have oscillating confidence, but it’s also the sign of an inquiring, open mind, which often lead to positive changes. So stop beating yourself up for being doubtful or questioning.
6. Know you’re not alone
We all suffer from low self-confidence, anxiety, or sheer dread sometimes. When we push ourselves in business towards something new or bigger, resistance rears its ugly head. Know that you’re not alone feeling what you feel. Be kind to yourself.
As adults, we’re no longer cheered on by our parents and teachers. Especially in self-employment, we must do this for ourselves. Confidence results from a thousand tiny actions. Practice gracefully accepting compliments at work and keep a record of these. Collect testimonials from clients.
Act with confidence, regardless of what you feel. Show up, do your best, and don’t judge yourself too harshly if you don’t meet your expectations. You’ll show up tomorrow; you’ll do better.
Brook McCarthy is a marketing trainer, business coach and writer who specialises in creativity, confidence and clarity in business. With a background in public relations and online communications, Brook runs face-to-face courses around Australia on Blogging for Business and Social Media.