by Melanie Greene

How do I go about becoming more confident?

There are three steps in the process:

  • Step one:

Identify the times when you lack confidence and note what is it about yourself or the situation that is affecting your confidence.

  • Step two:

Identify where you need to make changes to boost your confidence.

  • Step three:

Make a habit of using one or two of the techniques explained below to develop your self confidence.

Techniques for boosting your confidence

There’s a range of techniques you can use. Experiment with them and you will probably find that one or two of them will appeal to you. Once you know the techniques that work for you, use them on a regular basis and they will enable you to boost your confidence levels. With practice, you will ultimately become a more confident person.

Visualising success

A very effective way of undermining your confidence is to think about and visualise the worst possible outcome in a situation. You end up anxious, worried and doubting your ability to cope and perform effectively. So if you are in the habit of doing this, you might want to change and start to visualise yourself succeeding instead. See Visualising success in the topic on Coaching Yourself for a simple visualisation exercise to use, along with information as to why visualising success is so important. When you visualise yourself handling situations successfully, even very challenging ones, you will feel more confident, which will then impact on your behaviour and greatly increase your chance of success.

Listening to yourself

Our inner dialogue often takes on the cloak of the inner critic, so we end up berating ourselves before, during and after events. This can lead us to doubt ourselves and undermine our confidence. However, there are parts of you other than the inner critic, and these might have something more helpful to add to your inner dialogue. Listening to all parts of yourself can be very effective in terms of dealing with your fears and boosting your confidence. For example, you might have genuine fears that get ignored by the inner critic, which, if addressed, would help you to feel more confident. Also, your rational, wise self can get lost amongst the negative messages that you send yourself. Therefore, if you tap into this more logical side of yourself, you will feel more confident in dealing with different situations. (See also Mastering your inner critic in the topic on Coaching Yourself.)

Appreciating yourself

When we feel confident, we tend to naturally appreciate our strengths, achievements and all the things that we do in our lives. However, those people who feel under confident a lot of the time, and who have an inner critic, often see the glass as ‘half empty’ rather than ‘half full’. They focus on what they have not achieved, their weaknesses and the little things that go wrong, and they fail to acknowledge all the positive things about their lives and themselves. See Appreciate yourself in the topic on Coaching Yourself for a very simple technique for appreciating yourself on a daily or weekly basis. You will start to create a new positive habit, which will leave you feeling more confident and positive about yourself, as well as more motivated and satisfied.

Managing your mood

Our inner critic and the doubts it creates can creep in when we are feeling in a less-than-positive mood. If we feel down or negative, then it is much easier for us to feel under confident. This can result in a vicious downwards spiral, with our performance being affected because of how we feel, which in turn results in us feeling even worse and so on. Therefore, an ability to manage your mood on a day-by-day basis puts you in a better position to build and maintain your confidence. For more, see Managing your mood.

Resourcing yourself

When we lack confidence in a particular situation we often forget that we have the inner resources to deal with it. We thus start to doubt our skills, abilities and knowledge. There is an exercise that helps you to tap into your inner resources and use them in any situation that you are facing. This exercise will boost your confidence both before and during an event. (See Resourcing yourself.)

Balanced debriefing

When under confident people debrief after a presentation, meeting, difficult interaction or even a whole project, they tend just to focus on what went wrong. They therefore end up with a very negative view of what they have achieved and learned, which is demotivating and further undermines confidence. Balanced debriefing is about focussing on the whole picture and learning how to repeat the bits that went well, as well as learning how to avoid or handle differently anything that did not go so well. (See Realistic and constructive debriefing in the topic on Coaching Yourself.)

Asking for constructive and balanced feedback

It is very important for our development that we get feedback that is going to help us to learn and grow – feedback that will motivate us to take action in the future. The topic on Feedback provides more information on what constitutes good feedback and how to go about asking for it. (See also Learning from feedback in the topic on Learning.)

Dealing with criticism from others

Criticism is different from feedback, in that the former is about making a value judgement about something, while feedback provides useful information about how you can either repeat successes or learn from things that have not gone so well. Confident people are in a better position to deal with criticism, while those who lack confidence often fail to challenge or respond to criticism. Instead, they can end up dwelling on the criticism, using it as fuel for their inner critic to further undermine their confidence. (See Dealing with criticism.)