Creating Confidence in the Work Place

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it,” Jesse Jackson

Confidence – a much desired quality but where does it come from and what does it really mean? What is the source of great confidence?

Confidence stems from a belief we have about ourselves. When this belief was formed will determine what we can do to help people be more confident. If it was created within us as a child by our parents, as an adult it is very deeply ingrained and therefore very difficult to change. So if someone has a lack of confidence created at a young age, it will be very difficult to change this fundamental belief and this person will always be functioning out of fear. If someone has high confidence created at a young age, then our challenge is to keep that confidence in balance so that it doesn’t become over-confidence or arrogance.

Where confidence has been created more recently it is much easier for us to change. A sudden lack of confidence, where before we used to be confident, is a matter of finding and unlocking that self-belief. If it’s an increase in confidence, where previously there was very little, then it’s important to build on this quickly and maintain a safety net. However, this still does not change the fact that the truest form of confidence is created when we are children. If we are constantly told that we’re great, then we start to believe that we’re great and this gives us confidence. If we’re continually told that we’re rubbish, then we start to believe that we’re rubbish, thus causing us to fear our every move because we know it’s going to be rubbish. So a fundamental belief is created that either gives us confidence or not. So any parents out there beware, the greatest gift you can give you child is the ability to be confident. As a very good friend of mine once said, give them roots and give them wings.

So if we have grown up with confidence then it’s easier for us to be confident in many situations, even if there are people out to get us, undermine us, or make us feel less confident.

Our confidence can be easily linked to what we believe about ourselves, this in turn tells us how we feel and together these tell us how to act. As Jesse Jackson famously said “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it”. This fundamental belief is the difference that makes the difference. Think of a pro-athlete. They may have the skill, strength and stamina, they may feel in the best form they’ve ever been in and yet still they have to absolutely believe that they will succeed. I play netball and there is one other club that my team struggles to beat. It simply comes down to the fact that we believe they can beat us. We’ve beaten them before but it’s always a challenge and it’s always close and currently there are still too many members of our team who fundamentally believe that this other team can win.

So what can we do? We know that if we change the way we act, by walking tall for example, we can give the external perception that we are more confident. We can reflect and remember times when we really felt confident and bring all those feelings back inside of us and we can create affirmations (I really am a brilliant person) to help us start to change our more recent beliefs. But if we have low confidence given to us by our parents from a very young age, it is much harder for us to truly and completely believe that we are confident.

So what can we do for ourselves and for others if we have a basic low level of confidence? Imagine that you’re at work and you have a team and you need to increase their confidence – what can we do? The best approach is to support them to make their own decisions, within the boundaries and guidelines of the task, with clear feedback loops, so that you get to find out about things if they are going to go wrong before they go wrong! We can teach them techniques to handle their fear, ways to think and feel and act differently. As Peter T McIntyre said “Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”

Let’s imagine for a moment that I am about to give a big presentation, and I feel terrified at the prospect. With practice and feedback I learn how to portray the image of someone who is happy giving presentations, and therefore I begin to believe that actually I’m good at them. We create an illusion to fool ourselves which, in itself, starts to create the belief that we are a confident presenter.

I guess what I’m really saying here is that whether someone has, or does not have, confidence is something that was created within them from a very young age. As a professional managing a team in the workplace, all we can do is hope to boost confident people and help under-confident people learn techniques to handle their fear. Help people take responsibility for managing their own fear, learn to manage your own fear. If you’d like techniques on managing your own fear, let us know, and we’ll write an article on it for you! After all, the thought of fear itself is always greater than what you are actually fearful of. So to have more confidence and create confidence in others, help them to feel the fear and do it anyway!

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4 Comments on Creating Confidence in the Work Place

  1. Good article. I would very much like it if you could provide techniques on how to manage ones own fears as well as others with whom you work with. As a person who works with people everyday, I feel that there are all sorts of fears that people i.e. fear of writing an article/or even a few sentences (despite being very good at writing), fear of picking the phone to call someone to simply confirm something etc.

    • Hi Jenny,
      Thanks for your comment. The biggest way to handle any fear is to bring in happiness. If we compare fear to darkness and happiness to light, it is much easier to let in light than it is to push out dark.

      The mind is amazing and creates all sorts of associations for us everyday even though we are purposefully asking it to. Putting on your best dress or suit makes you feel better, more confident. Feeling sunshine on your face creates warmth and happiness. For some listening to a certain song will create a special feeling.

      With this in mind we can ask our mind to remember those good feeling for us. So if someone has a fear of writing an article ask them to remember a time when they successfully wrote something (not necessarily an article) and how they felt when they had completed it. By bringing back these positive memories you are essentially helping them to “let in the light” creates a good feeling about writing, which will make writing the article a lot easier.

      With some of my clients, who are less confident generally (as opposed to a specific task) we create a Box of Joy, in which they write numerous activities each on a single card, that they keep in a special box. When they are feel low, or lacking in confidence, they take a card from the box and do what it says. Helping them to again, “let in light” and feel more positive. Things on the card can be as simple as hug someone. It has to be something that can be easily assessible and brings them personal happiness.

      There are lots more – I hope that helps?



  2. Phil Birch // March 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm // Reply

    I have had periods of great confidence and great self doubt. I have not consciously avoided situations that I “fear” but I may be sub-consciously hiding. Is there a way that I can resolve this uncertainty. Is it simply a case of “acting as if” I am confident and valuable? or is there something more fundemental that I should address (and how ??)

  3. Christine Bishop // March 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm // Reply

    An interesting topic. When you say ‘confidence is something that was created within them from a very young age’ are you alluding to purely environmental factors or do you think there is a genetic component too?

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