Reaching the Heights - On Becoming More Confidents

On Becoming More Confidents

Confidence is a quality which is not easy to define. It is a dynamic experience rather than a character trait. Therefore, it is not an easy concept to explain either. Bringing together behaviours, characteristics and mindsets that create self-assurance, these produce the components to create lasting confidence. These components are: non-verbal communication, tone of voice, authentic vulnerability and a process-orientated mindset.

Confidence is most profoundly expressed through our body-language. No matter how well or how badly we speak, the way we feel about ourselves is exposed in our posture, our gait, our hand-movements and our facial expressions. Each of these non-verbal cues bypasses the intellectual language centres of our brain. They are discerned by the deeply inward feelings of others (even as we enter a room). Body language is an important part of first impressions, which are made when people see us. We can’t simply switch-on confidence when we think we need it. We most internalize and embody it every moment, so that it becomes part of our observable presence wherever we go.

One of the beauties of practicing body language is that addressing the symptoms of confidence can actually influence the causes of it. This means that you can learn strong body language by making a conscious effort to make your non-verbal communication habitual. In particular it is important to notice how non-verbal communication changes the way you feel in social situations, and how it changes the way other people feel about you. It is truly amazing how muchconfidence depends on things that are not spoken.

The next most important aid to confidence is our tone of voice. Voice quality, pitch, articulation, syntax, volume and intention all express our innermost self. When you speak it is best to do so in statements rather than questions. Articulate and annunciate your words clearly. Avoid using filler words such as “like”, “you know”, “um”, “so”.

There are two more profound indicators of self-confidence. These are: authentic vulnerability and a process-orientated mindset.

Authenticity means being fully yourself, free from pretence. It’s being real. Being real equates to true confidence. Whilst false confidence may hide insecurity, weakness and self-doubt, true authenticity owns these experiences in a way that exposes self. Acknowledging these parts of ourselves requires vulnerability – to open up and be exposed for who we really are. In short, honesty and openness are the stuff of real confidence.

It took me far too long to realise that I didn’t have to feel confident in order to be confident. All I needed to do was to respond authentically to my experiences and share those experiences in appropriate ways, especially when they reveal my lack of confidence. Vulnerability is not weakness, it is real strength. Kobe Bryant, the late, great American Basketball player, once said, “I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure…..We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it”. Bryant authentically acknowledged and vulnerably admitted his insecurity, self-doubt and fear of failure, which enhanced his grounded self-worth.

Regular self-help treats confidence as static, goal-orientated -you either have it or you don’t. But real confidence is a process. It ebbs and flows. It grows over the course of our lives as we live in new situations and face fresh challenges. Thinking of confidence as a process, rather than a goal in itself, gives us a much healthier connection to our self-esteem. It enhances your relationship with yourself. You no longer feel the need to be completely confident all of the time in order to be effective. You no longer believe that if you act or behave a certain way, confidence will be yours. You avoid the myth of unshakable confidence. Confidence that can be shaken isn’t weakness or insecurity, it’s a sign you are human and you can work though setbacks, criticism and growth.

The act of faking confidence can be exhausting, as keeping up appearances becomes your primary objective. We become truly confident by committing to the life-changing process of learning to be ourselves, the person God designed us to be.

[I acknowledge use of material from an article by Jordan Harbinger, Success Magazine, 13 Oct 2020. Jordan hosts the Jordan Harbinger Show and is co-founder of “Six-Minute Networking”, a training company that offers workshops on non-verbal communication, persuasion and influence to corporate and military organisations]

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Reaching the Heights