You know what they say, communication is key, and yes communication is hugely important in all areas of life.
I want to start this post with a brief anecdote about one common misunderstanding when it comes to communicating confidently.
A colleague of mine used to work as a Team Leader for a team of about 45 people in a Call Centre. The opportunity came up for the TLs to request any training they thought might benefit them in their roles. My colleague asked her Manager if she could do some confidence training, and her Manager laughed saying, “I think you’re already confident enough”, to which she replied, “but I don’t ‘feel’ confident.”
You see the issue here.
Many of us will be seen as confident communicators because that’s how we project ourselves. But what about those of us who want to actually ‘feel’ confident whilst communicating? That’s a different kettle of fish altogether.
There are so many resources out there that will help you to communicate more confidently, effectively, and with more authority. The advice is great – if you want to be ‘seen’ that way. However, when it comes to actually building that confidence from within, you have to dig a little deeper.
For the best part, when we genuinely feel confident we’re more relaxed and at ease with those around us. We remain objective rather than letting emotions take control. We listen more, and we feel heard. We have conviction yet a sense of flexibility. We take things less personally.
So if you want to improve your self-confidence in order to have the foundations you need to project true confidence when communicating, here are 5 ways you can start.
And I mean truly listen. People often use the time when someone else is speaking to think of their reply. This isn’t listening. This is waiting for your turn to speak and it’s not an effective way to communicate. Give the person speaking your absolute attention. Ask open ended questions – what, why, where, when, how? And don’t try to guess where they’re going with what they’re saying, no matter how right you think you are.
Listening is the foundation for great communication skills and the more you do it, the more confident you’ll feel. You’ll be better equipped to respond with genuine answers. How you make others feel will be reflected back and bolster your confidence in yourself.
2. Be Authentic
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde
Being authentic means speaking from your heart. Don’t try to be perfect or use language you’re unfamiliar with. Speak with your own voice.
3. Breathe. Relax. Slow Down.
Breathing deeply reduces our stress levels and anxiety, so be sure to breathe consciously and relax as much as you can.
And slow down. Often when we’re nervous we feel we need to get through what we’re saying quickly but this just perpetuates our own sense of nervousness. It also projects that nervousness outwardly, so the listener will pick up on it – meaning you’ll pick up on the fact they’ve noticed which will only serve to make you more nervous.
So breathe, relax, and slow down.
4. Choose Your Words Wisely
The words we use have a huge impact subconsciously on our mindset as well as how others perceive us. Remember you have value so choose your words wisely as often we undervalue and undermine ourselves without realising.
Going back to my colleague in the call centre, she taught her staff to thank customers for holding on a call, rather than apologising for the wait. This boosted the confidence of the call agent as well as working wonders for the customer response.
Another example would be saying, ‘it’s only me’, or it’s just me’. You can hear how you’re devaluing yourself by putting these unnecessary words in place.
Try not to undermine your interactions by ‘knee-capping’ yourself. Examples of this would be when you’re speaking you add ‘perhaps’, or ‘maybe’, or ‘I guess’ at the end of a statement. Again this will have a subconscious impact on your mindset as well as the perception of the listener.
5. Boost Your Body Language
How do you sit or stand when you’re feeling confident? What do you do with your hands, arms, legs? A great way to add a confidence boost to any interaction is to emulate your existing confident body language – so become aware of this.
If you catch yourself arms crossed, shoulders slumped, head down, you can quickly adjust this. You’ll not only feel more confident, you’ll also project confidence. So sit up, roll those shoulders back, use open body language and see what a difference it makes.
And moving on to one of my personal favourites – Power Posing. Often our body language governs how we think and feel about ourselves and thank’s to Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk, we now have power posing on our radars.
According to studies, just two minutes of power posing…
- Increases testosterone levels by 20% (which helps you feel confident and bold)
- Reduces cortisol levels by 25% (which makes you feel more calm)
- Increases your ability to empathise (and therefore ‘connect’, build rapport)
Power posing can improve our confidence, our state of mind, and our feelings of power in any given situation. So I invite you to try it next time you have an important conversation to have or presentation to give.
And last but not least you absolutely must Practice Practice Practice.
Remind yourself of all the times you felt truly confident – practice tapping into these feelings regularly, conjure them up whenever you have interactions with others.
Practice makes perfect and consciously taking the time to practice will improve your confidence as well as your communication skills.
In our bespoke Purpose, Progress, Performance programme, we give you the training and tools you and your team need to improve your self-confidence when communicating, as well as how to effectively project confidence.
Not only that but you’ll enjoy all of the below:
- What mindset really means and how to change yours to achieve your goals.
- The importance of identifying and building on your energising strengths.
- How to communicate powerfully, influence effectively and increase your authority.
And a lot more besides!