I work with many leaders who are strengthening their confidence. This can mean different things for different people, such as finding their voices, stepping into the authority of their roles, or stretching into other new behaviors. What I have learned, from my own experience and from my work with my clients, is that confidence manifests itself in different ways. When you know what these ways are, this provides a means to understand “confidence habits” as well as how to shift them.
I refer to the framework I have developed as the Domains of Confidence. These are:
- Body – the stance that we take
- Language – the words and tone that we use
- Mind – the assumptions that we hold
Body. Our bodies can be a powerful way to change our way of being. Stand up straight by reaching your head toward the ceiling, lengthening your spine, and allowing your shoulders to relax and fall away from your ears. Find your center by gently leaning from side to side and then from front to back. Press your feet and legs into the floor, grounding you and forming one line of energy from your feet to the top of your head. Let your arms fall naturally at your sides, and notice how this might be different than where your hands might normally be. Bring a slight smile to your face. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing your mind and body. In what ways is this different than your usual stance? What shifts do you notice in your confidence?
Language. If we are less confident, we may use terms such as “Maybe we could,” “I think,” or “I believe.” Or we may use filler words such as “um” or “like.” Pay attention to your language for two weeks, and write down what you notice. This includes the words you use, the inflection, and the tone. Also note the context – what is the experience, who else is involved, and how confident did you feel? What did you do, and what did you say? After two weeks, what patterns do you see in your language and your confidence? In what specific ways can you turn this learning into action?
Mind. What we believe matters. One study found that women performed significantly worse on a spatial ability test after being told men do better on the task. However, women told that women do better on the task performed significantly better at the same task. Similarly, men performed better after being told that men are better at the task, and performed worse after being told that women are better at the task. Notice the situations in which you are more or less confident. What assumptions or beliefs are you holding about yourself, the environment, or others? Are they founded or not? What stories or judgements can be challenged? What can you leverage from this understanding to enable you to show up differently?
Our confidence shows up in many ways – what we think, what we say, and how we carry ourselves. By bringing awareness to our ways of being, we can start to change them and, in doing so, increase our confidence.
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