Lately, I’ve noticed a trend. I often interact with very smart people that have completely underestimated their capabilities. I typically resort to the tactic of telling them how great they are and how much more they could do if they didn’t have this self-limiting belief. Unfortunately, that doesn’t typically do more than give them a short-term ego boost.
What Can I Do Differently?
In reflection, the first thing I realized was that when I’m thinking about it, I’m fairly encouraging to most people. However, when I’m not thinking about it, I’m pretty lousy. Especially when I’m stressed, I have a tendency to go into bullet point / get’er done mode; i.e. bull in a China closet.
Obviously, this needs to change…
The way I see it, self-confidence is a tank that has to be filled over the long-term. We’ve got to be intentional with this if we really want to make a difference. Here are some reminders on how we can build self-confidence in those around us:
Acceptance. If you are always trying to change people, they may not feel valued as they are.
Praise. Be specific and timely with your praise to get the most bang for your buck.
Attention. Don’t underestimate the value of spending time alone on a regular basis with people. Tank filling 101.
Listening. You don’t always have to agree, but respect people enough to listen. Maybe even bite your tongue sometimes.
Recognition. Public praise is amazingly powerful. Rewards, prizes, or even raises all build self-confidence in a tangible way.
Positive Expectations. Expecting the best from people is not optional. Any other way instills self-doubt.
The Difference Between Self-Confidence and Courage
I believe self confidence is just the beginning step in really affecting change in people. Just because they feel more confident, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will take any different action.
Self confidence is the kindling to courage.
This may sound funny, but encouraging courage is an important step. But how?? Here are some things that my bosses have done in the past that have helped me personally be more courageous at work:
- Set clear boundaries so people know how much room they have to make decisions.
- Teach people to put dollar figures on decisions so they can easily see their limits.
- Setup rewards or incentives for new initiatives. Tie these initiatives to performance reviews / raises.
- Be careful in reprimanding people for going too far. If you hand-slap too much, you can empty the courage tank real quick.
- Simply let people know how much you value them taking calculated risks.
With all this positive stuff being said, there is no replacement for honesty. I believe that when you balance honesty with encouragement, you build trust; and trust is the foundation for everything else.
Question: What about you; do you have any ideas on how to instill self-confidence and build courage in the workplace?