This post was written by Hannah Morris, Director of Assessment & Advancement at The Latimer Group.
Confidence is not a trait. It is a behavior.
In fact, confidence comes from the Latin verb confido, confidere, meaning “to trust.” When we trust ourselves, our skills, our experience, our decisions, and our ability, we feel and project confidence. When it comes to public speaking and those moments when we are in the spotlight, it’s often a lack of confidence that is the problem. In those cases, we need to prepare and practice adequately so that we know, through repetition, that we can do it. But we also need to develop routines and strategies to help us achieve the right mindset. Part of this is embracing and accepting each communication opportunity as just that – an opportunity to succeed, provide value and demonstrate ability if all goes well, or an opportunity to learn and grow if it takes a left turn. We cannot fully trust ourselves if we expect perfection every time.
But what if there is a perception of overconfidence or arrogance? In this case, others may perceive that we trust ourselves to the exclusion of all others. In receiving this feedback, we should take time to consider how we do feel about our own opinions and contributions in relation to those of our peers and colleagues. Whether the perception is accurate or false, the solution is to actively and explicitly acknowledge and value other perspectives. Improving active listening skills will help us gather more information on our audience and what matters to them. Anticipating their questions and addressing likely objections will help demonstrate our thorough consideration of their position. And finally, speaking inclusively and collaboratively with not only “I” and “you” but “we” language, giving credit, and expressing gratitude will help us achieve the right balance of trust – for ourselves and for others.
And achieving the ideal balance of confidence is critical, because confidence is a catalyst. In proper supply, it allows us to contribute and engage effectively and appropriately. When we develop a pattern of behaviors, it becomes a habit and the confidence habit is a powerful player in the realms of presence, reputation, credibility, and leadership.
Consider where you find yourself on the confidence spectrum next time you are delivering a presentation, sharing an idea in a meeting, or leading a conference call. Think about how you feel and demonstrate trust in yourself and in your teammates or colleagues and see if you can move the needle in the right direction.
Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?
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