Some thoughts on confidence and Faking It! from Sarah and Merryn.
“Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behaviours and our behaviours change our outcomes” Amy Cuddy
Confidence! It’s the quality most of us say we want…but that very few of us actually have. You can instantly tell if someone’s got it, yet it seems almost impossible to acquire it. Judging by the thousands of women (and men!) we have worked with over the years, confidence is the BIG issue – bigger than salary, bigger than promotion, even bigger than work-life balance. Why? Because it is the issue that is closest to people’s souls, the issue that stems from childhood, environment, upbringing, schooling and many other aspects of life.
Whether we are working with global clients on developing a strategic communications strategy, whether we’re training a CEO how to face the media or whether we’re hosting a conference on international energy policy, it’s never more than 30 minutes before the subject of confidence (or rather, the lack of it) comes up.
Lack of confidence – particularly in a business context – is a widespread. But at least it means sufferers are not alone! We ALL feel the same from time to time.
Lack of confidence, or self-belief holds people back from seeking that promotion, starting that new business, asking for that pay-rise, enjoying the respect of colleagues, and it holds them back from being considered competent and impressive by customers, suppliers or clients.
And, let’s be honest, lacking confidence feels miserable, doesn’t it?
Happily, there are two ways to start finding that confidence. The first is to spend half a lifetime and several thousand pounds in therapy. For those who would prefer quicker results, however, we would recommend Faking It!
The idea behind faking confidence is pretty simple. Most of us know that our bodies reflect what’s going on in our heads. This means if we’re feeling low, we tend to wear a sad expression and stand in a slumped posture. If we’re feeling happy, our body reflects that by standing more upright, and we smile.
With Faking It!, it’s the other way round! Even if you’re feeling low, nervous and apprehensive, adopt an upright, positive stance….and two things will happen:
- First, you’ll trick your mind into thinking it must be feeling confident because your body says you’re behaving confidently.
- Second, other people will see you looking confident, so will react to you differently, which in turn will re-enforce your sense of confidence! Once you know and understand the “confidence tricks” that work for you (we call them micro-weapons because they are so powerful) the only extra skill you need is to commit to changing your unconfident physical habits…and practising new confident physical habits until they become second nature.
- Faking It! is effective because trying to change things deep inside you can seem scary or even impossible…while changing physical gestures can be done by anyone.
How can you be sure it works? Because we developed the Faking It! programme from our own experience in pressurised and demanding professional roles. For years, Sarah worked in the incredibly tough, male-dominated automotive industry – an industry where for a woman ever to appear less than 100% confident, would have been professional death. Can you imagine being a shy little flower while addressing 500 men on the production line at Ford, or Bentley? While Merryn needed to appear confident in quite a different field: she was a BBC newsreader and programme presenter for many years; when she interviewed people – particularly over a controversial topic – she not only had to appear in command herself, but also had to somehow reassure the interviewee that they had the ability to perform live on air. Did either of us always feel as confident as we appeared? Absolutely not! But we did identify those micro-weapons that made us seem to behave in a very confident manner – tiny tactics that made us impressive…and enabled us to get the job done.
So if you want to feel more self-assured, if you want to be treated with the respect you deserve from colleagues, if you want to appear impressive, competent and confident, remember the wise words of Amy Cuddy, a Havard psychologist (catch her TED talk on https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=RWZluriQUzE ). Her research validates what we have been saying for years: “Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behaviour and our behaviour changes our outcomes.”