Published on 8th February 2017
We are delighted to welcome Melissa Lewis from Style Confidante as guest blogger. Melissa is one of the Ambition Elite Partners who works with us to provide further support to our clients, in line with each organisations' culture and diversity goals.
Later this month Melissa and Katalin Howell will be speakers at our Women with Ambition event in Melbourne. They will be running an interactive presentation highlighting how the ‘Women Who Lead’ program helps women make a real difference in gender equality. For more information on this event please contact Iryna.
Communication and confidence from the inside out
How do some people just exude confidence and power while others come across as full of self-doubt? True, some people are (rightly or wrongly so) born with an innate sense of self-assurance, but for most, it takes hard work. It’s about truly tapping into your confidence from the inside so you can communicate the best version of you to the outside world. There is nothing more important when it comes to personal branding than making sure your presence matches your capabilities!
The new underwear technique
When I was young, the popular ‘confidence boosting’ technique when it came to public speaking, was to picture everyone in their underwear. While I wouldn’t actually recommend this now (awkward!) the sentiments behind it are true. Imagine everyone at their most vulnerable. Imagine everyone stripped back (metaphorically speaking of course). Imagine what goes on inside their heads when they’re in the same situation as you. The reality is, most people are just as anxious or find it difficult to speak in public or network. They are rattled by exactly the same nerves as you are. When you realise that you are not alone, that you are fighting the same battle as so many others, the pressure eases a bit and leaves some space for your confidence to grow and develop.
When I was new to the corporate space, I became friendly with another girl in a junior position. I was in awe of her capabilities and the way she managed to make her presence felt. She was slightly awkward in a really endearing way, but she managed to catch the attention of senior staff members and had that demeanour where you just knew she was going to succeed. She is now an extremely successful barrister and one of the most intelligent people I know. We were catching up over a glass of wine and reminiscing. She was joking about how uncomfortable she was in those first few years of work and how she always looked up to me. I was shocked. Her impression of me was someone who was confident and comfortable and she confessed that it actually made her feel inadequate. I explained to her that this was exactly how I felt about her. It made me realise that how we think we present to the world and how we actually present are totally different. So, ask around! Ask your friends and your work colleagues about the impression you make. You might be surprised. Perhaps the areas that you think need work are actually where you excel. Sometimes, the doubts you have are completely unwarranted. Change the conversation in your head, stop making assumptions and just see what unfolds!
Celebrate your wins
Do you sabotage yourself with negative self-talk? Do you tell yourself that you’re not good enough? Do you focus on what you can’t do rather than what you can do? STOP! NOW! Would you let your best friend beat herself up the way you beat yourself up? No! You’d be there with a pep talk (and probably a wine) to tell her that she’s amazing and remind her of all that she’s achieved. It’s time for you to do the same for yourself. It might just be something small like a gentle mantra when you start the day reminding you of all that you’ve achieved and that you can tackle whatever is coming your way. Maybe you have a notebook or journal where you can literally write a list of accomplishments that you can look at whenever the doubt creeps in. Perhaps you can go a step further and celebrate your wins with others. It could be as simple as ringing a friend or family member. Perhaps you’ve got a networking group or business-related Facebook site that you could post to. And remember, these don’t have to be major life-changing wins. It could be as simple as having the courage to confront someone at work and try and resolve a negative situation. It could be winning a new client. It could be a public speaking engagement, or going after a new position, or making a new connection. The options are limitless and they are there daily to remind you that you are worthy.
One of the most important things when it comes to personal branding and increasing your presence is to ensure that you have ‘healthy habits’ when it comes to your own confidence. For those that weren’t born with an overabundance of self-assurance, this is something that needs to be practised. So, start with a small habit that you can incorporate. For instance, it may be that you make a concerted effort to start remembering and using people’s names when you talk to them. If you take the time to listen, you’ll realise that very confident people do this all the time. For some it’s natural, for some it’s deliberate. So when you’re introduced to someone, try and repeat their name back to them in conversation at the first opportunity you get. Notice how it totally changes your confidence levels when you engage them after this. Referring to someone by their name from the outset will instantly make them feel recognised and connected, in turn developing a better networking relationship.
Choose your weapon
Is it a killer handbag? A brand new pair of shoes? Your signature shade of lipstick? What makes you feel powerful and confident? Why would I be talking about superficial things in a post dedicated to confidence from the inside out? Because these external things make us feel a certain way. So if there’s something that makes you feel particularly powerful, why wouldn’t you use that weapon to your advantage? When you’re feeling amazing and confident because you’re wearing your favourite heels, it’s not the heels that give you that edge, it’s feeling that you can conquer the world that makes you stand out. So tap into that. It’s all part of your personal branding. Work out what makes you tick, what makes you feel your best and bottle it!
Confidence shifts don’t happen instantly. But when you start to implement these techniques regularly you will realise that you start to think differently, interact differently and handle situations differently. The most amazing thing about confidence is that it’s there waiting for you, ready to make both your working life and personal so much more enjoyable and rewarding.
If you’re ready to be empowered and take that next big step in your development, contact Melissa for a no-obligation chat, call