When I asked several hundred women recently "What's your single biggest challenge to fully living as a Bodacious Woman?" one resounding response I heard was "More confidence!"
Now I'm sure men feel this way, too. It's just that as women we seem to more openly admit it and, frankly, sometimes, we're our own worst enemy.
Here's an example. Just recently I read an article with the headline "Female Judge: 'I'm Still Learning.'" It turns out that after 215 years a woman has finally been appointed a federal judge in Richmond, VA. Good for her!
But, here's what bothered me: Why did she say to the reporter "I'm still learning what it's going to be like. It never occurred to me that I would end up being a judge"? Oh, no, don't say that!
These words don't exude confidence that she knows what she's doing, which is especially important in such a public role. And it ended up in the headline! Unfortunately, the article didn't contain any more quotes that helped her regain ground.
Feeling more confident is ultimately an inside job, which often requires reflecting on our past, un-sticking self-limiting beliefs, and replacing old tapes with healthier ones. It's a life-long process and if you haven't gotten started, I suggest you get going.
But, right now, I want to offer you two simple things you can do TODAY at your job and in your business to exude confidence. The positive responses you get from these behaviors can, in turn, can feed your internal sense of confidence.
#1 Be mindful of your words.
My hunch is that the newly appointed judge didn't even consider what she was saying. She wasn't mindful that phrases like "I'm still learning" and "It never occurred to me..." could communicate a lack of confidence. She just said what she was feeling and came to mind.
I'm sure she felt there was still a lot to learn. Heck, almost everyone feels that way with a new job! And, just about everyone has a story about how they're surprised how their career has evolved. I can relate, but, I don't find these words endearing when what I want to know as a citizen is that she can do the job.
Tell me something like, "I'm really looking forward to serving Virginia residents with my experience as a fair, competent judge. I'm not afraid of the tough issues." I bet she feels that way, too, but she didn't SAY it.
What's the key to choosing words that exude confidence? It's choosing words that authentically communicate what you're thinking or feeling and how that will positively affect the other person. Communicate to your boss, project manager, co-workers, or clients that you CAN do something for THEM that they want or need, and you'll see their confidence rise in YOU.
#2 Don't over explain.
The late, great Katharine Hepburn who said "Don't over explain, don't over complain" taught me this one. The reality is that often the less you say, the more people assume you're competent. That is, of course, if your body language communicates a settledness and ease as well.
I've seen time and again in business a competent, intelligent woman explain to the nth degree why she made a decision, including all the background events of who said what and who did what and then what happened and so on.
I cringe as I watch her stature and power seep out of the room. It's just not necessary! In fact, it goes against her entire effort to be thought of as credible and to be taken seriously.
It's so much more powerful to say what you want or what you did, add a few words, and then shut up. If others have questions, they'll ask! And you can decide how you want to respond.
Feeling more confident isn't something that happens in a flash, but it certainly is a goal worth striving for.
Today, at work or in your business, try out these two simple ways to exude confidence and notice the response. You'll be happy you did!
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