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10 ways women can build confidence and thrive

Push back, they say. Don’t apologize for having an opinion.
Say no. Dive in. Take risks.

These are all great traits of a self-confident person, but identifying them and executing them are different worlds. Most women understand what this leadership trait looks like, but they struggle to learn the skills.

At IOCI, we hear you! That’s why we’ve gathered the best exercises we’ve gleaned from our experience and leadership coaching colleagues:

Be a daredevil.

This is a colorful way of saying take risks, of course, but daredevils are far sexier. And women need the positive image: A University of California research study has determined that women are far less likely than men to engage in high-risk activities because they are sensitive to potentially negative outcomes. That reticent protects our health, but it too often carries over to any kind of risk.

So Google skydiving opportunities in your city. Book a zip lining session. Explore flight lessons. And once you’ve begun to conquer physical fear, set your sights on a goal you’d like to achieve. It shouldn’t look as scary now that you have practice in pushing discomfort to the side.

Change your story.

That little voice in your head deserves a punch in the nose. It loves to harp on what you can’t do, what you should have done differently, what a fraud you are. You’re too young, too inexperienced, too much of a introvert, too awkward…

To riff off a computer phrase, what you hear is what you get. So instead, start your day with a bedtime story about a character—you—and how all of her dreams come true. Then hit the office and act as if this is true. Psychologists know that changing behavior changes feelings. You probably call that “fake it til you make it.”

Ask for rejection.

Face it: it’s not really the word nothat scares you. It’s that sucky pit in your stomach, the sudden shakiness in your breathing, the sweat on the back of your neck that you’re trying to sidestep. Try the hair of the dog that bit youto take out the sting of rejection, like Jia Jiang details in his TED Talk. The entrepreneur devoted 100 days to being rejected in 100 ways, asking for a burger refill at Five Guys and knocking on a stranger’s door to inquire about playing soccer in his back yard, to name a few.

Schmooze.

Rather than sending an email, stand up and walk over to your colleague’s desk to discuss the latest wrinkle in a project. Knock on your superior’s door to deliver a quick update. Say yes to charity golf tournaments. Face-to-face conversations build more goodwill and personal ease than any internet exchange.

Make good friends.

You’ve no doubt heard it said that you are the average of the five people you spend time with most. Identify someone whose presentation, personality and achievements you admire, and use the law of attraction to siphon some of that confidence. It won’t actually deplete their store and the positivity will uplift your entire attitude.

Strike a pose.

Harvard Business School professorAmy Cuddy offers an excellent TED Talkon power poses that allow your body to lead your mind in the right direction. “Body-mind approaches rely on the body, which has a more primitive and direct link to the mind, to tell you you’re confident,” she writes. For example, planting your hands on the table and leaning forward when closing a deal or raising your arms in a V symbol before an interview.

Create a great list.

Make a list of all the things you are proud of accomplishing. When you need a confidence hit, pull out that list, maybe even add a few more items, and allow the endorphins your reading unleashes to wash over you.

Start a “confidence log.”

Jot down the times when you felt most intimidated or most confident. The patterns this reveals will provide clues on when you are vulnerable to doubts and who within your career intimidates you and why. Leaders who have adopted this practice say their confidence rose sharply.

Limit your social media time.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even LinkedIn have a sinister side effect: comparison. Studies showing living on these sites contribute to depression, jealousy, bitterness, feelings of inadequacy and isolation. So in the end,  comparing yourself to others is quicksand and kryptonite combined to those working to build self-confidence.

Don’t work too hard.

Personal down time is the secret weapon to a true focus and balance that breeds happiness. It’s a tough row to hoe to project confidence when you are unhappy at the core. Go home when your workday is done. Spend time doing what you love. Schedule your next vacation.

Take your career to the next level!

Contact IOCI for Business Management Consulting, including executive coaching, leadership training, talent development and organizational performance building. We are here to help you in Spirited Business.

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Author
Marialane Schultz

Marialane Schultz is the founder of IOCI. She helps individuals and organizations perform at their best, do meaningful work and be impactful through customized coaching and consulting engagements.

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