Personal development, Self-improvement, Management

Confidence: Getting ourselves back on track

Many of us are feeling low in confidence due to the tough environment we are living and working through. Cathy Shimmin, DSC Senior Training Consultant explores why this is and how we can make positive steps towards improving our wellbeing.

There are enough crises in the world at the moment. Pandemic, scary leadership, environmental time bomb. Even bringing it closer to home, loss of funding, increase in demand, redundancy conversations, hand to mouth and day to day existence.

Don’t let a crisis of confidence be the thing that pulls you under

Did you know that the word ‘confidence’ is taken from the Latin word ‘Fidere’ and means “To Trust”? I suppose that makes sense – trust in yourself, trust in others, trust in the reliability of information or in the way things are done.

No wonder then that I am meeting many people in my training courses, who are having really big confidence wobbles. This is regardless of age, experience, role/level in the organisation or even general disposition. Some of these confidence wobbles have taken people completely by surprise and a common theme is the cyclical effect low confidence has on our well-being, performance and self-belief.

I was thinking about the things that can cause us a confidence wobble and I had to tick numerous boxes for a possible explanation of the current ‘wave’ – anything from this list feeling familiar?

Confidence wobbles when;

  • We don’t know what is going on
  • We don’t know when things might change
  • We know exactly what’s going on and what’s changing and we don’t like it one bit
  • We have increasing demands and challenges with no additional resource
  • We believe, for whatever reason, that we are not ‘good enough’ and indulge self-doubt
  • We feel we’re ‘out of rhythm’ with the progress or pace of things going on around us

In the midst of so much change then, it becomes clear why confidence is one of our main resources to take a hit (OK, I know the finances have been battered too, but this is about ‘us’ not ‘stuff’).

And once it hits, it tends to keep either prodding or thumping, the carousel of “I doubt, I convey doubt, others see doubt, I don’t trust myself … no Fidere!” (that probably needs conjugating)

You see the picture – and the likely relationship between low confidence and stress.

We become our own worst enemies;

  • Self-sabotage – constantly reminding myself that I am full of doubt and woeful and rubbish
  • Self-protection – I don’t or won’t explore or experience new things
  • Self-conflicting – I want this (clarity, say) but I don’t want to do that (ask difficult questions) to get it

We may even become just a little bit difficult for others to handle:

  • Not being clear about what we want or how we feel
  • Being rigid or taking position on things because we’re anxious about things changing
  • Placing more importance on blame and limits than action and possibilities

In training, I am hearing all sorts of ‘circumstances’ where confidence wobbles appear

  • Being hired during lockdown, making the settling in experience just a little weird, at best.
  • Taking on higher management responsibilities as your organisation weathers the storm
  • Anxiety about not being able to provide the support or services to our beneficiaries
  • Poor relationships, external or internal, up or down the line, that cause self-doubt or loss of trust in others
  • The obvious uncertainty about job security, organisation survival, life choices and journeys
  • New stuff that’s just unnerving – new technology, changed processes and protocols, new colleagues you haven’t met properly because induction is … just a little weird, at best …
  • Mis-understandings, mis-communications, mis-perceptions – even missyitus; not having freedoms usually associated with de-stressing, having fun, loving and belonging.

What are the things that are cause your confidence to wobble and what kind of impact is that having on you, your work, on others? More to the point, what can we do about it?

If we have the right to claim any one common shared value in our sector it might be, To Be Kind.

If you are having a confidence wobble, be kind to yourself. If you see others wobbling, be kind to them.

OK, that’s the evangelical bit, but what can we do in practical terms?

Be kind to yourself

  • Inner critic to Inner Coach – change that inner dialogue. Positive, action focussed, self-talk – “I’m just not experienced like the other managers” becomes “I have some experience, what do I need to learn now?”
  • Feel the fear – and do it anyway, I know, is one of the old ones. But it remains relevant because it’s been tried and tested. Do something you are a little afraid of. You achieve something, you are proud of yourself, you tell yourself something new (remove doubt), you may trust yourself again (Fidere!)
  • Check out Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on how our body language and posture communicates just as much to yourself as it does to others. What are you communicating to yourself about your confidence?
  • Join us for Confidence at Work, 2 December 2020 or 7 April 2021.

Be kind to others

  • Help colleagues shine – talk up their work, their role, their team, their achievements, to others.
  • If you manage others, make sure they are clear on new parameters, barriers, expectations of their role and their work. Moving into Management 26 November 2020, 12 Jan 2021, 23 Feb 2021, 24 Mar 2021.
  • Trust others; don’t tighten the management reigns. Give people clear direction and critical support.
  • Help others; view your colleagues’ priorities (never as important as our own eh?!) in the brighter light of priorities for the organisation. If they have high beneficiary impact, work with that priority, negotiate what you can and can’t do, do what you can
  • Be clear on boundaries, expectations, deadlines and parameters for yourself and others
  • Develop your knowledge and self-awareness of change and its impact on others. Moving into Management: 26 November 2020, 12 Jan 2021, 23 Feb 2021, 24 Mar 2021.

There is an old saying that ‘change is not a destination, it is a journey’. I think the same can be said of confidence.