Building confidence


Professional confidence

Bringing into consciousness some of our unconscious responses to work situations can be helpful in exploring our professional confidence.

I recently joined a number of my colleagues in a few workshops, over two days, focusing on our responses to the professional settings we find ourselves in. Organised by BSL Link 4 Communication and hosted by Darren Townsend-Hanscomb.

Two valuable days of brief seminars and detailed discussions in both small and larger groups. Participants’, including me, honesty revealed a great deal about both our abilities and inabilities in being confident. Surprisingly there was a great deal of similarity with regard to profession confidence regardless of length of service in the community.

Self worth (think about yours)

Self-esteem; our general feelings about ourself, how much we ‘value, approve of, appreciate, prize or, like our self’. It’s how deserving we feel of love, happiness, etc.

Self-efficacy refers to our beliefs about our capacity to influence the events in our own lives.

Self-confidence refers to the extend to which we sufficiently trust our abilities, capacities and judgements such that we believe we can meet the demands of a task well enough.

Negative bias

Our tendency to pay more attention, or give more weight, to negative experiences over neutral or positive experience. Even when negative experiences are inconsequential, humans tend to focus on the negative.


Perceiving a threat, your brain starts to release hormones. Your body responds by increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, heart and brain.

This ensures that you are primed to think and act quickly. It’s the ‘fight, flight, freeze or flock’ response; your body is ready to fight off the threat or avoid it.

Less confidence…what this looks like;

Being ‘hooked’ by thoughts and feelings, paying more attention to the negative, negative self talk, unchecked negative bias, experiencing negative spirals, predicting negative performance/results and negative emotions colouring experience and memories.

More confident… what this looks like;

Dropping anchor/grounding, practicing mindfulness (create a space), looking for and, paying attention to the positives, practicing positive (realistic) self talk, redressing negative bias, actively building positive spirals, practicing curiosity as an approach and actively using (and including) positive emotions.


…sufficiently trusting our abilities, capabilities, and judgements such that we believe that we can meet the demands of a task well enough



Mindfulness is an approach to experience, both internal and external, that attempts to simply notice, with curiosity, without judgement and, in so far as possible, without interpretation.

Whilst meditation is without goal, research shows it to be beneficial in many ways. Meditation creates a space between the internal experience/thoughts/feelings and your reaction to/interpretation of it.

Perception (customers)

How can we or, what do we do to engender customer confidence?

  • dress for your and, your customer’s confidence.
  • assume appropriate expertise and professional skill
  • work to build customer understanding and expectations
  • be confident and own your own mistakes and successes
  • use appropriate politeness makers, whilst avoiding being overly apologetic
  • challenge pre-conceptions
  • actively back-channel
  • intentionally present how your face looks and, avoid emotional/processing leakage

Be Prepared!

How do we begin to prepare for our next assignment?

  • Request preparation materials
  • Think
  • (over) prepare
  • Support general understanding and specific/technical issues
  • review the night before and sleep on it
  • plan/prepare so that you have the best chance of working confidently

Co-working preparation

How do we make ourselves useful for our co-worker and make sure we are OK too?

  • assume a shared professional context
  • ask what’s wanted – specifically
  • say what you need and prefer, specifically
  • be clear and not (too) apologetic
  • address negative bias, reinforce positive experiences

Think on your Goals

Outcome goals are the result you’d like to achieve

Performance goals are the performance standard you are attempting to acheive

Process goals are the processes you need to repeatedly follow to achieve that result

Seek Feedback

Listening actively, taking the time to analyse, and then thinking of the best possible solution to perform better

  • look for patterns in the feedback you receive
  • take account of your own negative bias and self talk
  • plan to address areas of development and ‘what-ifs’
  • pay attention to and build on strengths
  • seek and use feedback
  • grounded confidence (not imagined)

Confidence muscle metaphor

True confidence is about being WHO YOU ARE and being okay with that.  It’s a profound authenticity that allows you to be real with yourself and the people you interact with day-to-day.  Stop searching for approval from others and start a journey of self-approval, self-management, and honest self-assessment.

Confidence is a muscle! – we all have a confidence muscle but some of us haven’t learnt to exercise it yet. You need to decide you want it, take certain steps to achieve it and then continue taking those steps to maintain it.

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