“Have confidence in your convictions and you can go wherever you want to.“
A previous manager of mine said this to me in a one-to-one review and it isn’t the first time I’ve heard that confidence is something I lack.
At parents evening, in University meetings, in my one to one reviews at work, you name it; everywhere I go, it’s the one piece of feedback that has been consistent throughout my life.
I suppose at work it’s partly to do with experience. I haven’t even been in my particular role for one year yet, so it’s difficult to speak and advise with conviction when in the back of my mind, I’m wondering “what if I’ve made a mistake? Am I really well versed in the role yet?”
What really is the worst that can happen?
This thought popped into my head recently when given a task at work that made me a bit uncertain: returning a phone call to an outside organisation to ask how we could help, bearing in mind that my job mostly consists of internal calls and that the nature of this particular call wouldn’t allow me to quickly scribble some kind of script beforehand!
I did make that call, it went absolutely fine, and with this new positive thought process, I’ve found myself presenting to tens of people on conference calls (not in person yet, that’s the next level!) and voluntarily setting up calls with people at work where I could have just e-mailed them.
Speaking on the phone is something I’ve struggled with and I think it’s pretty common: in the age of WhatsApp and social media where we communicate daily with people by typing our thoughts rather than voicing them, picking up the phone and speaking to someone can be pretty daunting.
What if I stumble on my words?
Yep, this happens to me all the time and you know what? The way I overcome that is actually by calling it out. I find a coping mechanism in humour, which may not work for everyone but when I stumble on my words, I just say “oops, I’ll put my teeth back in!” or “whoops, should have rehearsed my lines!” and generally, people chuckle and we move on. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t understand my humour or is fairly stern and uninterested in my
Dad jokes comedy gold, but that’s fine, the same applies: I just move on!
I’ve started looking down the street ahead of me instead of staring at the floor on my way to and from work, and I’ve started asking questions or disagreeing where actually I think there’s a better way to do something, for example. It’s these little habits that I’m building up in the hope that eventually it won’t even be a conscious effort anymore, it will become second nature.
I’ve been known just to be agreeable but I’m starting to come out of my shell.
That process actually started when I’d lived abroad: gaining confidence speaking a foreign language day in, day out, and fending for myself. Now, it’s about refining that confidence, applying those skills to living in my native country and speaking out: both on the phone and voicing my opinion.
It’s absolutely normal to lack confidence, I’m sure it’s quite common. Some people already have it figured out, and hey, some people could do with their confidence turning down a notch, y’know what I mean?
The important thing is, I’m going to make a conscious effort because I think it will help me both in my career and in my daily life. I hope this has inspired you if you struggle with speaking on the phone or opposing someone’s opinion, that if I can do it then so can you!
It may take time and different techniques work for different people, but the crucial message to take away is:
Always strive to be a better version of yourself.
Have you any tips for gaining confidence?