Expert View: Communication - Conjure up some confidence

There are a number of things you can do to feel and appear more self-assured.

No matter how good you are at what you do, if you're not confident about it you're going to find work an uphill struggle - particularly if you're in a management position.

What makes some managers confident and others not? Is it magic? Is it how they're brought up? Well, it's certainly not magic, and upbringing (and genes) may have something to do with it; but there are a number of other things you can do to help yourself feel, sound and appear more confident.

The first thing to take on board is that lots of other people aren't confident, either. When we're struggling, it's easy to get fooled by the facade of competence from other people. The chances are that other managers aren't any more confident than you and will have their off days too. Forgive yourself yours.

Second, ask yourself if you're attempting to be a perfect manager. If you are, then it's no wonder you're not feeling confident. If you say "I've got to get this absolutely right", you're just setting yourself up to fail. Soften up what you say and give yourself a get-out clause. Say: "I'd like to get this done really well, but if I don't have time I'll have done as well as can be done in the circumstances." It does need some practice.

Third, remember that how we think, how we feel and what we do are all linked. Confidence isn't about not being anxious. It's about being able to do things whether or not we are anxious. Just because we can ride a bike, that doesn't mean we weren't anxious when we were learning. I'm not advocating a 'feel the fear and do it anyway' approach, but it's worth looking at the bigger picture.

Finally, remember that we're all better at giving advice than at taking it. Ask yourself this: if a friend came to me looking for advice on this, what would I tell them to do?

 - Simon Raybould is the head of Aware Plus, a training company specialising in communications and soft skills.

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