Head of Sales, Zoe Close, caught up with Executive Coach Rebecca Mander, to talk about confidence, where it comes from, how we build it and why it is never too late to develop it…
ZC: Hi Rebecca, we are talking about the topic of confidence. To start things off, can you explain to me where confidence comes from?
RM: Hi Zoe, well, a lot of people believe that you are born with confidence and you either have it or you don’t have it – however, this is not true, confidence is something that we develop over a period of time.
For example, imagine a sports person. They can be told how great they are all the time – however, the way that they really develop their confidence is by continuing to practice their chosen sport. The more they practice and master something, the more they’ll receive positive feedback and the more their confidence will grow.
So, as an individual, to develop confidence you need to practice what you do in your field. Then, you also need to work on self-awareness and that comes from receiving a balanced level of feedback.
If you’re constantly told you’re not good enough then your confidence will obviously be knocked, however, if you are told throughout your life that you’re amazing then you will develop an invalid level of confidence. So, it is important as an individual that you are given a balanced level of feedback, both positive and constructive.
Because, when you receive that balance, it will make you more self-aware and comfortable with what you are good at and that in turn with help you to become more confident.
ZC: What’s the difference between self-awareness and self-belief?
RM: So, imagine someone is on the X Factor and they say, ‘I’m absolutely amazing, I’ve been singing my whole life, I am going to show everyone what I can do’. However, because you’ve seen people like this on the programme before, you know that it’s highly likely they aren’t actually going to be very good. What they are showing there is self-belief and that is where you believe in yourself, but you might not have the skillset to really back it up.
Self-awareness is where you are very aware of your capabilities and what you can do – you know your strengths and what you are good at, however, you also know what areas you need to improve on.
ZC: If someone hasn’t developed confidence by the time they are, for example, in their mid 30s, is it too late?
RM: No, not at all, it is never too late to develop confidence, you can always continue to work at it. A good comparison to make is between confidence and getting physically fit and building your muscles. If you want to get fitter and develop bigger muscles, you will need to exercise and go to the gym in order to do that.
With confidence the process is almost exactly the same and as I’ve already mentioned, it comes from practicing what you do and making sure you receive a balanced level of feedback.
ZC: Certain people might be worried about asking for that feedback? How can they get over that apprehension?
It is a normal feeling to have – people who are low on confidence might not want to ask for feedback through fear of receiving a negative response. One thing you can do is review your own performance in say a meeting or at an event using something I like to call the three Rs. So first of all, review what has happened. For example, if you had a meeting think about how it went and whether you were able to contribute or not? Maybe score yourself out of 10.
Then the second R is for repeat. In this section, look at what you did well to score as you did and list what you would repeat in the future. Then the third R is for refine which involves looking at what you could have done to improve the score, so consider what you might change or do differently next time.
By doing this, you are feeding back on your own work which gives you a clear view of what you are doing well. By looking back at what you are doing well and where you can improve, you are building self-awareness and after a period of time you will start to feel confident enough to then ask others to critique your performance.
ZC: What other techniques would you use with your clients to help them build confidence?
RM: When we lack confidence we selectively attend to all the reasons why we shouldn’t have it. Looking for evidence that we are valuable and valued helps us balance out the negative self-talk that ruins confidence. One way of doing this is keeping a daily log where we note down our achievements, positive moments, or words from others about us and activities that make us feel good. For a free download of the Positive Attitude Log, go to: https://www.guruyoucoach.com/your-pal-for-life/
What I would say is that because you might not be used to doing these activities it might be difficult to get to grips with at the start, but as you continue to do it you will find more and more positive things in your day that you will have previously ignored – and the more you identify them the more it will help you to build your confidence.
ZC: Thanks for your time Rebecca
Rebecca is an executive coach and founder of GuruYou Coaching