Tips and Techniques That Will Project Confidence at the Office
I have probably interviewed hundreds of people in my time and one thing that always puts one candidate in front of another is confidence. Confident people tend to be very self-motivated, have good self-esteem and don’t mind taking a calculated risk. They are not afraid of making a mistake because it’s a learning experience, not a failure. Confident people are critical to a company’s success because they push boundaries and they are the best equipped to deal well with organizational change.
I guess you could say that being a CEO makes me a student of confidence as I’ve been studying confident people for years—especially as it relates to coping with change. I’ve seen first-hand how it contributes to a successful career for everyone from the high school graduate just entering the workforce to the veteran manager that has seen and done it all.
Here are my tips to building and projecting confidence:
Do you employ any introverts? If so, then you know they are sometimes the last people to acknowledge how good they are. Competence, in some cases, has virtually no relationship with confidence. The fact that you do your job extremely well does not ensure that you are also confident about your abilities. It is only when you are aware of your competence that you become confident. This is why introverts sometimes have trouble moving up the ladder of success.
Increasing awareness of your strengths and talents is especially effective right before any event in which you want to present your most confident self. Such as a job interview or a speaking engagement. I find it best to think of a past success that filled me with pride and a high sense of achievement. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be from your professional life, it can be anything. Like the first time you completed running a marathon or created a gorgeous butterfly garden in your backyard.
Right before you “go on”, recall the feeling of power and certainty you felt. Remember or imagine how you looked and sounded. Recalling that genuine emotion will help you embody it as you enter a meeting room or walk up to the podium.
You know that the way you feel affects your body. If you feel apprehensive or disheartened, you tend to round your shoulders, slump and look down. If you are upbeat and assured, you tend to hold yourself erect and expand your chest. However, did you know that the reverse is also true? Your posture has a powerful impact on your emotions and on the way that others perceive you.
Research at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools shows that simply holding your body in expansive, “high-power” poses (think Wonder Woman or Superman pose) for as little as two minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone (the hormone linked to power and dominance) and lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
In addition to causing hormonal shifts in people, the researchers found that these powerful postures lead to increased feelings of power and a higher tolerance for risk. They also found that people are more influenced by how they feel about you than by what you’re saying. (See more about how people are wired here.)
So before you go into a situation in which you want to project your most confident self, start by standing up straight, pulling your shoulders back, widening your stance and holding your head high. Then put your hands on your hips. Just by holding your body in this posture, you will begin to feel surer of yourself and to project self-assuredness.
3. Become the “glass half-full” person in life
So, is the glass half-empty or half-full? It’s both. The only difference is where you focus your attention. A positive outlook is a crucial part of high-level achievement and confidence. In today’s fast-moving, competitive business environment, a positive, upbeat, “can-do” attitude is vital for success.
However, and this is important, choosing not to dwell on negativity doesn’t mean you’re oblivious to potential danger and pitfalls. Rather, you analyze situations for both positive and negative aspects, develop strategies to minimize negatives and optimize positives and then focus on the upside of the situation.
4. Loosen up
Some people are naturally more flexible and better at coping with and adapting to a complex, always-changing reality than others. They’ve learned that, in chaotic times, the trick is not to brace for change, but to loosen up and learn how to roll with it.
You can build resilience and confidence by honing your ability to commit to a course of action while, at the same time staying flexible enough to alter behaviors and attitudes quickly to support a new direction.
Most of you know that famous Thomas Edison quote about failure. When asked about thousands of failures while trying to invent the lightbulb, Edison took offense at the word failure and replied, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
I urge my employees to appreciate that growth comes from failure as much as it does from success. One project manager I had channeled Edison when we discussed a project and he said, “Even if this project fails, it will still be worth all the time and effort I’ve put into it for the past eight months because of everything I’ve learned.”
The best tool for keeping your confidence in face of failure
To facilitate productive thinking and confidence even in the aftermath of a failure, the United States Army developed the “After Action Review.” Organizations around the world now use AARs to help teams learn from their mistakes, prevent future errors and find new solutions to problems.
The AAR process assembles people who were involved in a planned project and asks them to answer a series of questions:
- What was the desired outcome?
2. What was the actual outcome?
3. Why were there differences between what I wanted and what I achieved?
4. What did I learn?
5. What would I do differently next time?You can conduct your own private AAR around any important event that didn’t turn out the way you hoped it would.
Confidence is contagious, so become a carrier
No matter where the confident person stands on the corporate ladder, people will naturally follow him or her. I’ve seen Baby Boomers fall under the spell of a supremely confident Millennial because of the magnetism confidence has. In addition, even though fear of failure is a huge obstacle to developing and projecting self-confidence, it won’t necessarily halt your progress for long. When you know that your failures can’t stop you, you’ll increase your confidence and realize that nothing can stop you!