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Don't tell me to "Be more confident"

…Because that doesn’t help me to become confident. In fact, it’s telling me that I’m not confident enough to be good enough, which makes me feel even worse and less confident. I know you mean well, but there are other things you can do instead.

 

I wrote in Confidence is misunderstood that we don’t suddenly become confident because someone tells us that we should. There are also stereotypes about what confidence should look like – superman-like – typically biased towards being extroverted and masculine. As highlighted in ‘Appearing confident’ is overrated, there is also a danger in assuming that appearing confident equals confident on the inside and/or competent.

 

Many articles point to the need to appear confident, especially for women. Some outline the research that women are generally less confident than men. It is often suggested that’s why women don’t go for the jobs that they can’t tick all the criteria, why they don’t go for the promotions, why they don’t speak up or why they don’t promote themselves. Research also indicates – rightly or wrongly – that a confident appearance does in fact cause people to think they are more competent.

 

While it’s useful to know that, it’s not actually going to build people’s confidence. I wish it could be that simple – if we could just say “Oh, I get it, I need to be more confident. Ok, done. Here we go, I’m confident now!”

 

As I have not seen anyone do that, here are three things that actually help us to become more confident from the inside-out.

1. Appreciation – Value and leverage our natural qualities, get beyond stereotypes (see Stifled by Stereotypes) and external messages about how our qualities are valued or not valued (see Introversion is not a disorder and femininity does not equal weak).

2. Aspiration – Have a meaningful purpose for developing and showing up with your confident self. When we’re passionate and purposeful, we can forget that we’re not feeling confident!

3. Action – Stop thinking and start doing. Feel the fear and do it anyway, as Susan Jeffers would say. Build a solid foundation of appreciation and aspiration so that you can just jump into it as if there’s nothing to lose, nothing to gain.

 

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman describes confidence in their book, The Confidence Code as “Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action… If confidence is a belief in your success, which then stimulates action, you will create more confidence when you take the action.” So action is key. Appreciation and Aspiration helps you to get into action.

 

Quieter, introverted professional women have an even tougher time – as written in The Double Glazed Glass Ceiling. We end up holding ourselves back or exhausting ourselves through faking confidence.

 

The Quietly Powerful Women initiative has had so much interest with 8 booked out breakfasts and lunches just in Melbourne. Sydney is nearly booked out. People in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and even London have expressed interest.

 

Due to popular demand I’m organising more breakfasts in Melbourne and also a Webinar. Please join us for, or tell others about the Melbourne breakfasts (29/9), the Sydney breakfast (14/9) and/or the Webinar (16/9).

My Blog

  • Quietly Powerful Leaders – who are they and why we don’t have enough of them
  • Quietly Disadvantaged Talent
  • Real Quietly Powerful Leaders