Confidence is essential to leadership and is an important component of career advancement. Confident people are more likely to volunteer for opportunities, take risks, and learn from each interaction in order to fulfill their potential.
Many people do not realize that self-confidence is different from self-esteem.
- Self-confidence is trust in your own skills and abilities. It involves behaviors that can be improved over time.
- Self-esteem is a feeling of personal worth that is fundamental to your identify. It is typically formed during childhood.
Whereas self-esteem is at feeling that is built from the inside out, self-confidence encompasses behaviors that are built from the outside in. By acting confident, you can influence how others perceive you and how you feel about yourself.
You may not realize it yet, but throughout CareerAdvisor you have been learning ways to help build your confidence. For example, CareerAdvisor has given you advice on the following steps:
- The first was simply taking the time to inventory your skills, talents, and passions so that you can lead from a place of strength and authenticity.
- The second was thinking about how to communicate in a way that is clear, concise, and relevant.
- The third was thinking about the nonverbal signals you are sending and the impact they have on how you are perceived by others.
The Building Blocks of Confidence
Confidence is conveyed through verbal and nonverbal behaviors that together comprise your presence. It has three main components:
Point of View – what you say
Confidence requires having and expressing a point of view on a topic. A point of view is more than an opinion. It is an informed perspective that takes what you know and relates it to the situation at hand. It does not have to be a brilliant analysis that took you years to develop. In fact, a point of view does not even have to be a statement. It can be a thoughtful question that moves a conversation forward.
When thinking about your point of view:
- Be relevant
- Ask questions
- Provide your unique perspective
- Do not wait to be asked to share
Presence – how you say it
Remember that confidence is not about how you feel – it is about how you act. Your presence – the combination of verbal and nonverbal signals you are sending – will impact how you feel about yourself and how others perceive you. Research on body language (see video below) shows that you can change other people’s perceptions – and even our own body chemistry – simply by changing body positions.
When thinking about your presence, consider:
- Pitch: Use inflection to convey emotion and emphasis
- Pace: Adjust your speed to match your audience’s
- Projection: Speak directly to your audience and avoid disclaimers like “I’m not sure but…”
- Poise: Demonstrate good posture, use gestures, and maintain eye contact to create openness and build a connection with others.
Practice – what your audience hears
Effective communicators practice all the time. They are constantly thinking about choosing the right word to say; the most compelling fact to share; and anticipating what their audience will think and how they will react. It takes time to master effective communication. Practice is essential to putting forth your best effort. It involves getting feedback from others on what you say and how you say it.
As you practice, remember to:
- Experiment with different techniques for different situations
- Ask a trusted mentor or friend for feedback on how you are coming across
- Consider your audience and make sure you are matching their style of communication
Now it is time to put that all together so that you can consistently communicate with confidence.
Take a personal inventory of your skills and identify the areas that you would like to focus on. Then, practice, practice, and practice some more.