Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.
-Norman Vincent Peale
In business and in life, confidence is a very important trait. It can help us get a new job, win over a new client, and build relationships with new business partners.
For some, confidence comes naturally. They walk with their heads held high and make decisions with ease. They go into every situation with an optimistic outlook, and even if things dont turn out quite as they hoped, they keep looking forward. It seems that nothing can stop them.
But for others, self-assuredness doesnt come so easy. Sometimes they arent confident in their abilities. Others, they simply dont believe in their own people skills. Whatever the reason, a lack of confidence can be a deal breaker in all sorts of situations, from getting a date to getting into the college of your choice to scoring a new account at work.
Many a business guru has suggested that those who lack confidence simply pretend to be sure of themselves. This fake it til you make it mentality has been the subject of many books, seminars and coaching programs.
But does it really work?
In the short term, it can. If youve got a big meeting with a prospective client coming up in 20 minutes and youre sweating bullets, faking confidence may be your only option. So you take a deep breath, go over your key selling points, walk in with a smile on your face and give a firm handshake. After much eye contact and tooting your own horn, you walk out with a deal. But then what?
You accomplished your immediate objective: getting a new client. Thats wonderful! But this is only the beginning of your relationship with that client. Youll probably be meeting with him again, and talking on the phone to him, and exchanging emails. Will you be able to keep up the façade? Or will your confidence erode a little with each encounter? And what about interactions with other potential clients will you be able to fake it convincingly with them?
Instead of Faking It, Build It
Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent.
When you fake confidence, youre just putting up a temporary front. That can work in some situations. But its not a long-term solution. In order for confidence to work, it must be genuine. It must emanate from deep inside you. It must be natural and effortless.
That doesnt mean that if you lack confidence, youre doomed to a life of failure. It means that you must build up your confidence. Its really not as hard as you might think.
Its okay if you have to fake it at first. In fact, thats not a bad idea at all. Faking confidence is certainly better than going into a situation feeling that youre destined to lose and letting it show. And when youre dealing with someone for the first time, its quite possible that they wont know the difference. As long as you do your best impersonation of a confident person pay attention to your posture, keep your voice steady, participate fully in conversations and call everyone by name theres a good chance that it will work out to your advantage.
Its what happens after that initial success that counts. You must let yourself enjoy your victory, and take full credit for it. All too often, businesspeople who lack confidence fail to do this. They are happy that things worked out in their favor, but they dont realize that they made it happen. They call it a fluke, or chalk it up to the forces of the universe, or think Boy, I really pulled the wool over his eyes!
Instead of continuing such a pattern of negative thinking, why not use your victories to build up genuine confidence? Now that you have an accomplishment under your belt, use it to remind yourself that you are capable of great things. It doesnt matter if you havent reached your big career goal. Youve won a battle that puts you one step closer to it. And thats certainly something to be proud of.
To make the most out of the experience, replay it in your mind and analyze what you did to make it a success. The way you carried and expressed yourself likely had a hand in it, but that will only get you so far. In order to convince a client that youre the best man or woman for the job, youve got to have something that sets you apart from the competition. Was your presentation spectacular? Did you create a sample that blew them away? Put yourself in the clients shoes and figure out why you made the cut. Then file that information away to boost your confidence when you need it most.
The next time you have a client meeting, you might be a little nervous. That previous victory might not have provided all of the confidence you need to get through another one. But if you allowed yourself to take credit for it, you should have at least a little more confidence than you did before. Use that to propel you through, and fake it a little if you must. When you succeed once again, youll have something else to bolster your confidence in the future.
Of course, we cant all be victorious every time. But its crucial not to let that knock down the confidence youve already built up. If you experience a setback, analyze it just as you would a victory. Determine where you went wrong, or if the result was even any fault of your own. File your conclusion away for future reference, and then return your focus to the times when you have been successful.
After a few successes and acknowledgements that you are responsible for those successes, confidence should no longer be an issue. You should be able to walk into any situation with a positive attitude, and that should show in both your speech and your body language. Instead of faking it, youll have a natural aura of optimism and self-assuredness. Youll attract the respect and the success that you deserve.