With confidence, you have won before you started.
Confidence - The syndrome
When most people hear the word confidence, the assume it is something that people with lots of swag have, and that they are born with it. The truth is that even though admittedly there are people born with a high level of self-confidence, in the end everyone still has to work at getting their confidence level up. It takes practice to have that level of confidence that makes you impervious to what would otherwise have demolished you.
So, what is confidence then? Confidence might in the loosest term mean, the expectation of a positive outcome, even when the odds are stacked against you. You might think, “but isn’t that just optimism?” You see, the thing is, Optimism is more of a state of mind that you impress on yourself, you expect that a bad situation, or any situation basically would end great (note that these are loose terms). However, confidence is a state of mind, it the result of how you see yourself and how you impress that on the world. It is how you look, talk, walk and do everything in a certain moment. It is basically a state of being certain of yourself.
From all of the what we discussed above as the necessary components needed to make an effective communication. You would realize that for you to use the assertive communication method, which I have mentioned is the best communicating style, you need to have confidence in yourself and in whatever message you are passing across. Like the quote at the beginning of the chapter says, with confidence, you have won before you started.
Confidence is that the fuel for anything you do, be it communication or just plain performing a task. If you already have confidence in yourself, you are sure that no matter what obstacle you face, you will have the confidence to defend your actions and if you are wrong, you will have the confidence to admit you are wrong without looking like you don’t know what you are talking about.
All this talk about confidence brings me to my next point, most people don’t have the confidence they need to have an effective communication or even just succeed at anything they do in life. Sometimes, they are just naturally very timid, but for most people it is as a result of the environment they live or lived in, the people around them growing up, personal believes and so many more. The major point here is that, while growing up the confidence of most people plummet because of how they have been conditioned to think about themselves and this has a huge impact on how they communicate and do anything in general.
Reasons why your confidence level might be low
You should note that the points here are just a general ball park enumeration of why members of the general public might have issues with their confidence level, it is not specific and it does not cover all of the reasons why. Now, let’s get started:
Self-belief and Assumptions
Remember those experiences and self-doubt I talked about above, yeah, they can be the biggest hit to your confidence. You have all these thoughts in your head and you are thinking, I can’t do this and you most certainly probably will not. Many times, it also has a lot to do with what you think other people will think of you. The fact that you already think you might be ridiculed by people can cripple your confidence and ruin any chance of you having an effective communication. How you think about yourself can be the biggest influencing factor in your life when it comes to your confidence, and it would help you a great deal if you learned to hone your thoughts in order to think positively. Just remember, you are all you need to change.
The biggest names in business and communication have all agreed that there is strength in numbers. Even though most of the work you need to do concerning your confidence has a lot to do with you, however, there is a big advantage in surrounding yourself with people that inspire you to be confidence. If the people around you constantly put you down or make jest of you at the expense of your self-esteem and confidence, then you need to find yourself a new circle.
Even though, I tell you to block out all the negative noise from around you and focus on yourself, we as humans somehow love to take feedback from those around us and use that feedback as a form of mirror of what we are. You should surround yourself with those that have confidence in your skills, in themselves and support you just as much as you support them.
I used to be a major victim of this before, apologising for who I am. It is crazy that the most intelligent people tend to doubt themselves and apologise for being the way they are. The major reason for this is that we usually notice early on that we are different from others and the world tells us that anything different is bad, at least most of the time. The truth however is that you don’t have to apologise for being different.
My point isn’t that you should not apologise when you make mistakes or cross people. My point is that when you do something different from the next person because you believe that was the right thing to do, you should not apologise for it. You should learn to take pride in what you do. This will help you a lot in making your communication effective as you will be able to stand by what you are saying and show your audience that you know what you are talking about.
Overwhelming Targets and expectations
As much as I would love to blame everything else around us for our confidence issues, there are some things that we cause ourselves and this is one of them. I like telling people to set big goals as much as the next guy, but the real problem lies in the kinds of expectations that people have. Most people look at the gap that lies between achieving their goal and the present reality, it is almost like they forget the journey in-between.
The key is to notice all the little milestones that lead to the big goal, this way you don’t get overwhelmed by how big the goal is. Let’s say you want to communicate with a large group of people for instance, you don’t have to always think about the whole talk and get overwhelmed, the best thing is to split it into small chunks of points. By the time you are done with all the points you have to talk about, you will be surprised that you have just accomplished a big task by breaking it into small chunks. Therefore, the next time you set a big goal, don’t be overshadowed by the size of it, you know what to do.
Confusing the Finish line
I followed the last point with this one because of how related they are and how easily people fall into this trap while trying to follow the point above. Since reaching milestones is the appropriate thing to do, many people confuse accomplishment with steady progress. When they hit a mile stone, they think they have it all figured out and this would cause them to put in less effort in forging ahead, then finally it starts to creep on their confidence and they crash. This applies to communication and to life in general. For communication, make sure you have successfully had a full cycle of effective communication and results before you start celebrating you win. This would prevent you to have confidence troughs for not reason.
Piss poor Preparation
I am pretty sure we have all been here before, well… at least we fairly normal humans. Whenever you know that you have not prepared enough for a certain event, your confidence level drops drastically because you know you have all it takes to deliver the best service or talk. Since your confidence is usually reliant on what you think of yourself and what you think others think of you. If you know beforehand that you don’t have what it takes to deliver the best or even enough to convince your audience, then you will not have the confidence to do it properly.
Too much confidence?
Yeah, I think that line could be called ignorance or arrogance. You can be arrogant because you are so certain that everything would work out that you might not stop to think properly about what you are doing. It could be arrogance too because, if you are super confident about something you know very little about or did very little preparation for. This would mean you don’t what you are talking about and you might just land with your confidence needing a shower. You should not be arrogant or too confident, just do it enough that you don’t hurt the ego of the audience and yours too.
This is my last point and it is just to make sure that take responsibility for your actions and your utterances. When you are always looking for someone to blame, your conversations for instance, sound more like you don’t know what you are talking about or you are not involved in the what you are needed about. This would also not help you build your confidence to that extent where you can say that you did this, and you did that. The moment you realize just how much of your actions you control, then you can be confident that you are in charge of what you say and what you do.
If you talk with confidence, trust me, you are on the way to being a very effective communicator.
How to heal your self-esteem to a level where you can handle any situation
It is not that hard to know if you have confidence issues or not. You most likely will know because it will hunt you when you try to do something bold or intuitive. With all of the points above, you know the things that can affect your confidence level. Here are ways in which you can improve your confidence and be an awesome communicator and person in general.
One of the major problems we as human beings have is thinking that the grass is green on the other side. We always think that just maybe if we were somebody else or if we had one ability of the other, then we will be able to perform somethings differently. There is one of two things you have to accept if you want to gain the type of confidence you need to hold any conversation effectively.
The first is that you are unique, therefore, if you think you need to be better in a certain area, what you need to do is actually put in the work necessary to be better in that area. The second fact is that there are just some things that you just cannot be good at maybe because of circumstance or the fact that your body is just not built for it. That too is fine, all you have to do is focus on all the things you are actually good and use them to your advantage. Therefore, what I am trying to say is you need to accept who you are and work with that.