The issue of women’s confidence at work has had so much discussion in the last few years.
For example an American report in 2014 said that when women start working for a company, although 43% aspire to be in senior management, only 27% think they have the confidence to do so. After 2 years employment this confidence figure drops to a lowly 13%.
Whereas men start at a similar 28% being confident but after 2 years of experience this rockets to 55% of them believing they have the confidence to reach a senior level job.
So what exactly is this mysterious confidence that reports suggest we lack as women and is it actually important?
Professor Cameron of the University of California who has researched the issue of confidence versus competence says
confident employees are often promoted over those who are more competent, as colleagues and employers mistake their confidence for talent
The result of this is that success is shown to be more closely related to confidence than to competence. This doesn’t mean that to succeed in their career women have to have big egos or stop being authentic. They do have to have self-belief and be able to demonstrate it to their managers though.
A woman’s style of confidence can be very different from a man’s. To ensure others recognise your self-belief, keep your focus on these 3 A’s of confidence building:
Understand your own style of confidence, the situations where it is strong and where it is lacking.
Be aware of how others demonstrate their confidence and which styles you like and could incorporate into your own behaviour.
Identify your core values. This is important as it will give you the confidence to know your own intuition and stick with it.
Recognise that your opinion is as valid and worthwhile as everyone else ’s. This will give you the courage to speak up in situations you may have found tricky
If you can be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses and yet focus on the things you do really well. It will help you maintain a positive and confident mindset
Rather than comparing yourself to others or judging others accept that the important thing is for you to be the best you can be
The most effective behaviour that confident people have is to accept that they make mistakes and they won’t always succeed, yet knowing that they still take action
Accept that others may not know about your successes and contributions. That sharing them in a proactive way is not boastful or bragging
Show yourself self-compassion and love, particularly at the times when things have not gone to plan.
Be grateful for all that you have got and achieved and you will feel calm and confident.
Appreciate your achievements. Don’t put your successes down to good luck or that anyone could have done it.
If you can be aware of and work on these 3 A’s of confidence building, you will be well on the way to demonstrating both your confidence and competence at work.
You may also be interested to know that my 1st book ‘Good Enough – A Career Woman’s Guide To Confidence, Courage and Credibility’ will be available for pre-order from March 15th.
You’ll get the opportunity to preorder it and to read about the strategies and mindset shifts you can apply to your career to ensure you have confidence, courage and credibility at work.
In the meantime, if you’d like to have a chat about your specific career or what confidence-building looks like for you. Then do book a free call in on my online calendar at www.speakwithjo.com
What’s your childhood experience of taking criticism?
Think back, do any of these sound like situations you were criticised in?
Shouted at for breaking something or making a mess
Laughed at for not ‘being cool’ or not achieving at school
Labelled on your school report as lazy or disruptive
Undermined for your ideas and dreams
These first experiences of negative feedback can really affect how we take criticism in the future.
I remember my older brother (by 5 years) being really told off several times by my Dad. That memory was enough to make me desperately want to avoid being shouted at by him and to not take criticism well all my life.
We often interpret criticism as being a rejection of us as a person rather than a criticism of a particular behaviour or action.
Or we may think we’re being personally labelled rather than being given feedback on our behaviour. For example; being criticised for not delivering on time comes over as ‘you’re not good enough and you’re disorganised’ rather than what you did was not good enough and disorganised.
How do you react to criticism?
Get angry and defensively argue back, do you feel the need to be right or to get your own back?
Think it’s unfair and that you’re always being blamed, but rather than arguing back, act as if you’ve taken it on board? Then later subtly let your anger out in little comments and barbs
Agree that you’re at fault and apologise profusely, whilst feeling you can’t help it if you’re not good enough
You may use some or all of these approaches and the key thing to notice is that in all of them the person doesn’t appear to have really listened and clarified what the criticism is really about.
4 Secrets to Taking Criticism Confidently
Listen carefully to determine whether you believe the criticism is fair and true,. Ask clarifying questions if necessary.to make your decision
Agree with the criticism, for example; “yes I did make a mess of that piece of work”. But try, to avoid over apologising or promising to radically change. Instead, think about how you could together negotiate a change. “I agree that I should have spoken up for you in that meeting, how could we ensure I feel comfortable to do it next time?”
When the criticism is untrue it becomes more tricky as there’re our memories of when we were a child and couldn’t speak up reinforcing our feelings. Plus if you’ve left criticism unchallenged in other situations then that is there too. Again the first step is to listen and clarify what is being said
If you feel unfairly criticised then it’s important to speak up rather than accept the criticism and feel resentful. You can do this with phrases like:
I really must disagree with you, that wasn’t my responsibility, so lets discuss where the problems came from
I’m really surprised you think that, can you explain how you got that impression?
Even if the criticism you receive is badly given, unjustified or given with a negative intention. You can still respond in an effective way, which allows you to speak up for yourself and maintain your relationship with the other person.
Criticism is a sensitive subject for most people and if you struggle to assert yourself when you receive it, do contact me for some support. You can book a free call at www.speakwithjo.
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When a client says “I need help with being more assertive” I’m always interested to find out about their current communication style.
Because what I’ve found is that we generally fall into one of four different communication behaviours.
I’ve given each communication style a descriptive name – which one/s do you resonate with?
She’s highly competitive and needs to prove her superiority
She over reacts verbally and possibly physically
She doesn’t realise how intimidating she is as people resent her but don’t usually speak up to her
She’s very passive and rather than speak up will opt out, avoid or run away when she’s uncomfortable
She has a victim mindset blaming others and situations rather than taking responsibility for her choices and decisions
She puts herself down and can be draining to others
She doesn’t speak up but is aggressive indirectly
She needs to control others and plays on their guilt to avoid rejection
She seems very nice but you can soon feel uncomfortable around her
She respects both herself and others
She accepts her strengths and weaknesses and takes responsibility for her actions
She’s not reliant on others approval so responds authentically
Do you recognise yourself and others in these descriptions?
To demonstrate how the different personalities might behave in a situation here’s an example:
Imagine you’ve come home late from a long day at work. Everyone’s at home, your husbands on the sofa watching tv and your kids are absorbed in various devices. The kitchen’s a mess and the tea hasn’t been started yet. How would you react?
Aggressive Amy – would blow her top shouting about how unfair it is and how lazy they are. She’d refuse to make tea and everyone would be upset and angry
Doormat Dawn – wouldn’t say anything but would mutter to herself about how they always take her for granted. Then she’d clear up and make the tea feeling like a martyr and swallowing her resentment
Manipulative Mary – also wouldn’t speak up but would show her anger indirectly through body language and slamming things. She’d clear up and make tea, either very simply or very late
Assertive Amy – would speak up calmly and firmly about how she felt and ask specifically for the help that she needed from them all
Can you see how the first three caused conflict and resentment but also didn’t actually ask for any help?
Amy’s assertive response, however, was to say how she felt, without blaming and to give specific details of what she’d like to happen.
It’s quite normal to move from one style to another in different situations. However, the Assertive Amy communication style is the most likely to avoid conflict and resentment and maintain a good relationship.
If you’d like to find out more about being assertive and communicating with confidence. Then just reply to this email or book a free Discovery Call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
Live confidently and courageously,
Background credit to Anne Dickson ‘A Woman In Her Own Right’
I work with both career women and entrepreneurs and almost all of them tell me they have a fear of failure.
The source of the fear does vary such as “I might appear stupid” or “I’m not good enough”. But for both groups of women, the feeling can be paralysing and cause procrastination.
That can then lead to us playing small, not moving out of our comfort zones and not taking up new opportunities.
If you’d like to conquer your fear of failure then I have 4 proven secrets to share with you.
Stop running films in your head.
This type of thinking is known as ‘what if’ thinking. When we play films in our mind about the possible catastrophes that could happen. The mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and our thinking.
The mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and our thinking. Instead, decide if there is anything you can do to prevent the worst possibilities. If not then let go of the film because it’s out of your control. Distract yourself or focus on what are the positives that could happen.
Surprisingly the students asked to be positive about the week had less energy and achieved less during the week than the control group.
This demonstrates that just thinking positively isn’t enough to achieve the outcomes we want. Research has shown that the best outcomes are created when we balance positive thinking with visualising the future obstacles and struggles we will encounter.
Have a go at visualising a situation in which you are afraid of failure. Imagine yourself now hitting an obstacle, allow yourself to feel the fear, and then see yourself carrying on anyway. Finally think about how you could overcome these obstacles, then see yourself succeeding despite these obstacles.
Separate Yourself From The Failure
When you’ve failed in the past, did you make it about you or the situation? It’s important to take responsibility for our actions, but that doesn’t mean we are the failure. It’s much healthier if you can separate you and your beliefs about yourself from what actually happened.
For example, making a mistake in a project doesn’t mean you’re stupid or not good enough. It just means you made a mistake and can learn from the mistake next time.
Feel The Fear (And Do It AnyWay!)
Even if you use the 2 secrets above you may still have the feeling of fear and because we don’t like to feel uncomfortable it can stop us moving forward.
Rather than doing something to get rid of the feeling, try sitting quietly with the sensations and deep breathing. Or imagine you’re sitting outside yourself observing what you’re doing. Then you’ll find the feeling dissipates by itself and the bodies natural calm returns.
Having realised that the fear is transitory you’ll feel more confident to take action next time.
the natural result of low confidence is inaction. When women don’t act, when we hesitate because we aren’t sure, we hold ourselves back. But when we do act, even if it’s because we’re forced to, we perform just as well as men do’.
My question for you is what are you going to do today to narrow the confidence gap?
Does the word conflict make you feel immediately uncomfortable?
Would you do anything to shut down or change a conversation if there was a disagreement?
That’s a normal reaction because fighting isn’t fun. It’s stressful and it can affect your important relationships.
However, in many situations at work or with friends it can be a healthy way to express your feelings and to have your thoughts and opinions heard.
What stops us speaking up when we disagree?
There’s a lot of different reasons and I’ve picked out here some of the common ones my clients mention:
A deep fear of upsetting the other person, being disapproved of or causing other negative emotions
An experience of bad arguments in your childhood or adulthood
A childhood where there was never conflict and disagreements weren’t discussed
Conditioning by society, school or parents to behave like a ‘nice’ girl
How do I build my conflict resolution skills?
Step 1 – is this issue important enough to me to speak up? You don’t have to confront every situation but if it’s happened before, you are having conversations in your head about it or it breaches your personal boundaries, then go for it
Step 2 – speak assertively. This means talking about the facts of the situation and using ‘I’ statement. Then you won’t be blaming the other person and they’re less likely to be defensive
Step 3 – Listen and question. I like to think about Stephen Covey’s famous quote “Seek first to understand, then to be understood“
Step 4 – what is the real issue behind the conflict? The issue for the other person might not be actually what you’re disagreeing about. For example, a heated family discussion about who has the parents for Xmas might actually be about feelings of jealousy or being left out. When you know the real meaning it’s easier to be compassionate
Step 5 – winning isn’t always the right outcome. Having a set outcome in mind is important, such as an apology or change of opinion. But sometimes just speaking up for yourself is enough. It gives a great boost to your self-respect and also might build the other person’s respect for you.
“I am”, these two very simple words have the power to impact on you and your confidence.
Whenever you use the words “I am..” or ‘I’m not…” you are labelling yourself. We love to label ourselves, others and things as it gives us clarity in a confusing world.
Be careful though, that by defining yourself with these two words you’re not limiting your reality and your potential.
For example, due to my regular accidents with cars, phones and wine glasses. I will tend to say about myself “I am clumsy”. But am I really? Or do I lack concentration in certain situations?
By labelling myself as clumsy I avoid doing certain tasks and restrict my abilities.
It can be very hard to differentiate between what you say about yourself and what is true.
To avoid this you need to be able to differentiate between conditional and unconditional labels.
These are truths about us that are unconditionally true. Such as “I am a mother” or “I am a teacher”. They define us and are helpful to use.
They can sometimes feel uncomfortable when used to describe a positive.
To some people saying “I am an entrepreneur” or “I am a writer” is difficult, as they’re not sure they’re worthy of it. But it’s important to accept and acknowledge your identity as a step to a strong self-worth.
These are labels we put on ourselves that aren’t always true, like my “I am clumsy”. They’re usually negative labels and are often driven by our insecurities. For example “I am fat” or “I am unhappy’ or “I am lazy”.
They may have some truth in them, but they are a state you’re in at a particular time rather than a definition of you.
Instead, try using “I’m feeling unhappy at the moment” or “Today I’m too lazy to do it”. It’s a small difference in words but a huge difference in the effect on your mindset.
My advice is to use unconditional “I am” more frequently and to be aware of and avoid the conditional “I am”. You’ll be surprised what a difference it can make to your confidence.
P.S. If you’d like to have a chat with me about this and other confidence issues, you can book a call at www.speakwithjo.com
To invest in yourself is one of the best returns on investments you can have.
Whether it’s investing in learning a new skill, developing yourself personally or professionally, tapping into your creativity or hiring a coach, you need to give to yourself first before you can give to others.
Investing in yourself is also an example of self-respect and self-love and the only person that can do that is you.
Why is investing in yourself so powerful?
When you spend time or money on yourself it sends a powerful message to you and the world. The message is:
I am of value and potential, and that is important enough to me that I’m going to give myself the energy, space and time to grow and create results.
When you’re willing to say yes, take that leap of faith and invest in yourself, you will feel empowered and gain many other amazing rewards.
I would like to share some incredible ways that you can invest in yourself. The great news is they don’t all require money.
Invest in building your confidence. People who know their value, have something to say and others will listen. You can invest in yourself by developing an understanding of the value that you possess and offer others.
Take care of your health. Eat right each day, fueling your body with nutrients. When you focus on eating healthier choices, you will feel better and have more energy. I know that the unhealthy burger or chocolate bar gives us instant gratification, but if you’re like me, you regret it later, because you feel guilty afterwards. Do something every day to get moving and get your heart rate up, even, if it’s just walking the dog. Moving gives you the energy to take on the day with confidence because of how it makes you look and feel.
Invest time in your creativity. Our creativity doesn’t have to diminish as we get older. In fact, it is believed that the peak of creativity in most people is around 30-40 years old. (Lindaur, 1998, Marisiske &Willis, 1998) Creativity inspires us to have fun and appreciate the beauty in the world
Invest in a coach. A coach can assist you in putting all of these strategies into action. A coach is your partner in success. It is their job to assist you in creating and implementing your success plan, so you can become the best that you can be.
I can promise you this: When you invest in yourself, a world of opportunities will open up for you. And, if you have a career/business where you sell your services, you must know that no one will invest in you until you invest in yourself first.
Investing in yourself emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially, will allow you to become the best version of yourself.
Why are some people more confident and courageous than others?
This is a question I regularly get asked and the answer is a combination of biology, upbringing, society and choice.
The choice element is the biggest influence on courage and confidence. Whether you choose to be positive and take risks or to stay in your comfort zone.
You can choose to build your confidence by challenging yourself, but you can also become more courageous by avoiding certain behaviours.
These are my top 6 behaviours that confident and courageous people don’t do:
They don’t try to please everyone all the time. Being kind and thoughtful is obviously important. But ignoring your own wants and needs to keep others happy will only knock your self-esteem and confidence
They don’t worry about things that are out of their control. Rather than ‘what if’ worrying about the future or being anxious about experiences in the past, which they can’t change. Confident and courageous people focus on the present and on things which are within their circle of influence
They don’t avoid new and challenging opportunities. This doesn’t mean they don’t have self-doubts or feel nervous. But they have the courage to know whatever happens they can deal with it
They don’t get stuck on self-pity. Like all of us, they do sometimes feel sorry for themselves. however, even when life feels unfair they are able to move forward
They don’t spend time with negative people. They realise how draining these people can be that constantly complain or see the negative side of life. Instead, they surround themselves with friends and colleagues who leave them feeling positive and energised
They don’t need others approval. We all like to receive positive feedback sometimes, but confident and courageous people have enough self-belief and trust to make their own decisions and stand by them
How confident and courageous are feeling today?
Choose one of the behaviours from above that you recognise and challenge yourself to let it go this week. You’ll be surprised at the positive effect it will have.