Coaching Tips: The Confidence Game

Confidence may not come easily for most coaches, but with a few coaching tips is it attainable.  Of course there is a balance between confident and cocky.

Many of my clients have becoming more confident on their list of reasons for wanting my life coaching services. For most of them, they can remember a time in their lives where they felt confident, but then life gave them a few knocks, or they met someone (boss, partner, etc) who dominated them and then before they new it they’d lost all the confidence they ever had.

The 10 tips below are all ways in which you can move towards being super-confident, but helping you to remain a nice person and keep all your friends and family!

  1. Body Language: In the post “10 Top Tips for Being Assertive Without Being Aggressive” I mentioned something called steepling, which is where you press only the tips of your fingers together in a prayer position. You can google a search for this for more details. Also in body language, it’s really important how you stand or sit. The “typical” position for standing involves: having your feet slightly apart toes pointing outwards slightly; your back straight, shoulders relaxed and back and head held high. Then we get to the hands – in confidence stances these are the most difficult! My preferred way is to have my fingers in my pockets with my thumbs showing, or you can hook your thumb in your pocket and have your fingers out. If you do not have pockets, then try holding one hand with the other behind your back – you’ll notice the Royal Family tend to do this as they roam about meeting people. Bear in mind that some cultures have different body language meanings… A wonderful resource for this is “The Definitive Book of Body Language” by Allan and Barbara Pease. The thing about using body language in this way is that it can help you to feel confident just by changing your posture.
  2. Looking people in the eyes is a great way to appear confident. For most un-confident people this is incredibly difficult to do – for fear of over-staring. The best way to do this is to look from one eye to the other then down to the mouth then back to the first eye (a triangle). It’s a way of preventing yourself staring at people. More details again in the Allan and Barbara Pease book.
  3. For many people their lack of confidence comes from a lack of self-esteem. How you feel about yourself can restrict your ability to be confident. Ways to improve this will be covered in a future article, which I’ll link to here. As well as these, you can begin to build your self-esteem by asking 5 people who know you to write down 5 positive qualities they see in you. To make up your 5, pick at least 1 from each of the following: friends, family, work colleagues/business contacts – e.g. 1 friend, 2 family, 2 work colleagues. Explain only that you would like 5 positive qualities from them, there is no need to go into any detail beyond that. The beauty of this exercise is that the people you ask can do whatever they want to and you’ll be surprised by what comes back! People often recognise qualities in you that you will never see or acknowledge yourself.
  4. Affirmations can really help to build your confidence – these are mantras that you repeat to yourself over and over again. Here are some examples:
    • I am a strong, confident person
    • I am confident when meeting new people
    • I am cool, calm and confident when under pressure

    The important features of affirmations are that they are written in the present tense (if you start with “I am” you’ll be on the right track); they are phrased positively – words like not and don’t have no place in affirmations; they are written in your own words – if you find a good affirmation from someone else, phrase it in your own way. If you want feedback on your affirmations, then leave me a comment and I’ll reply with my thoughts. The best way to use your affirmations is to write them down (have a maximum of 3 on the go at any time) and stick them to the bathroom mirror. That way, when you clean your teeth morning and night, you can read them and repeat them to yourself. Aim for about 20 repetitions of each one, it’s better if you speak them, but that can be difficult if you have a toothbrush in your mouth. In the beginning they will feel like a lie, but after about 3-6 weeks, you will begin to notice that you are believing these thoughts about yourself.

  5. Find people you think of as confident and begin to notice things about them, such as how they stand or how they speak. Are these things you can copy and begin to implement to build your confidence? If you get chance, ask them what they think about their confidence – some of these people will think they are not that confident! Ask them what they think about your confidence, do they have any advice that can help you? There are very few people who will not help you if you ask them – most people love to give their opinion too.
  6. Speak more loudly – obviously don’t shout! For some people speaking more slowly can help – especially if you are prone to mumbling. If you are doing public speaking though, it can help you to speak loudly and a little bit quicker – it makes you seem excited about your subject. Consider the pitch and tone of your voice – if you have access to record yourself speaking with friends you’ll have a better idea of how loud you are and what you sound like. Perhaps consider getting feedback from someone you trust. It takes time to change these things, but it’s really worth it.
  7. Be mindful of your feelings – if you notice that you don’t feel confident or you feel frightened then ask yourself, “what is making me feel this way?” Usually, there is some really good personal learning from this exercise. If you get no response, then a great way to break out of this feeling and feel more confident is to…
  8. Fake it Til You Make It! This is vital – in order for you to change your confidence levels, you are going to have to do a fair bit of this. The previous tips will help you with this – you can take huge strides forward by observing your body language and tone of voice. At first all of this seems contrived and your affirmations will feel like a lie. If you can spend about 3 weeks making these changes you will begin to see changes in the way people around you react to you. When you seem confident, people will take you more seriously, will be more inclined to listen to what you have to say and may even approach you for your opinion or advice. It’s important to realise that most people fake it til they make it all the time. Most seemingly confident people have their own concerns about confidence, however they instinctively use this process to get them through tricky situations etc. As we begin to speak and act confidently, even if we don’t feel it, the brain will eventually catch up and begin to think confidently, you’ll start to feel confident and then you’re really on your way to being super-confident.
  9. Start with easy stuff – get some confidence that you can improve your confidence. Don’t suddenly decide you are going to do some public speaking straight away – that may work, but chances are it’ll put you off for life. How about first of all you make a point in a meeting in front of your colleagues? A challenge I personally use is to try and speak to someone every day who I don’t know. If you do this a lot at work, then make a point of doing this outside of work. This is a great way to improve your confidence in talking with people – and practising small talk.
  10. Set some realistic timescales – don’t expect to change your world over night.

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