Copyright 2006 Mary Foley
When I asked several hundred women recently Whats your single biggest challenge to fully living as a Bodacious Woman? one resounding response I heard was More confidence! Now Im sure men feel this way, too. Its just that as women we seem to more openly admit it and, frankly, sometimes, were our own worst enemy.
Heres an example. Just recently I read an article with the headline Female Judge: Im Still Learning. It turns out that after 215 years a woman has finally been appointed a federal judge in Richmond, VA. Good for her! But, heres what bothered me: Why did she say to the reporter Im still learning what its going to be like. It never occurred to me that I would end up being a judge? Oh, no, dont say that! These words dont exude confidence that she knows what shes doing, which is especially important in such a public role. And it ended up in the headline! Unfortunately, the article didnt contain any more quotes that helped her regain ground.
Feeling more confident is ultimately an inside job, which often requires reflecting on our past, un-sticking self-limiting beliefs, and replacing old tapes with healthier ones. Its a life-long process and if you havent gotten started, I suggest you get going. But, right now, I want to offer you two simple things you can do TODAY at your job and in your business to exude confidence. The positive responses you get from these behaviors can, in turn, can feed your internal sense of confidence.
#1 Be mindful of your words.
My hunch is that the newly appointed judge didnt even consider what she was saying. She wasnt mindful that phrases like Im still learning and It never occurred to me… could communicate a lack of confidence. She just said what she was feeling and came to mind. Im sure she felt there was still a lot to learn. Heck, almost everyone feels that way with a new job! And, just about everyone has a story about how theyre surprised how their career has evolved. I can relate, but, I dont find these words endearing when what I want to know as a citizen is that she can do the job. Tell me something like, Im really looking forward to serving Virginia residents with my experience as a fair, competent judge. Im not afraid of the tough issues. I bet she feels that way, too, but she didnt SAY it.
Whats the key to choosing words that exude confidence? Its choosing words that authentically communicate what youre thinking or feeling and how that will positively affect the other person. Communicate to your boss, project manager, co-workers, or clients that you CAN do something for THEM that they want or need, and youll see their confidence rise in YOU.
#2 Dont over explain.
The late, great Kathryn Hepburn who said Dont over explain, dont over complain taught me this one. The reality is that often the less you say, the more people assume youre competent. That is, of course, if your body language communicates a self-assuredness and ease as well.
I’ve seen time and again in business where a competent, intelligent woman will explain to the nth degree why she made a decision, including all the background events of who said what and who did what and then what happened and so on. I cringe as I watch her stature and power seep out of the room. It’s just not necessary! In fact, it goes against her entire effort to be thought of as credible and to be taken seriously.
It’s so much more powerful to say what you want or what you did, add a few words, and then shut up. If others have questions, they’ll ask! And you can decide how you want to respond.
Feeling more confident isnt something that happens in a flash, but it certainly is a goal worth striving for. Today, at work or in your business, try out these two simple ways to exude confidence and notice the response. Youll be happy you did!