Everyone is different to some degree

Being aware that everyone we deal with tends to think and act differently from you creates an understanding that gaining in confidence has no ‘silver bullet’ solution. Therefore, confidence being very personal is experienced by each of us in different ways. Some people are very extraverted and thoroughly enjoy being in the limelight whenever possible whereas others who are more reserved are equally as confident dealing with detailed situations that require deep analysis. Yet we have others who are single-mindedly focused on results and drive to get things done using a directive style which can be at odds with those of us who are people oriented and look for warm and friendly relationship with others. From this brief description of different types of confidence it should be clear that there is no real ‘quick fix’ process to build confidence. However, there are actions we can take that could help us to be more confident in our approach in situations that are important to us.

I have had many opportunities to work with a range of people from different organisation and cultures who held a variety of positions and roles. In almost every situation the issue of self-confidence emerged as an important factor in being effective and successful. I was able to explore the thinking and concern with many of them and the outcome from the discussions about self-confidence was a list of statements of which the following is a sample:

·         You need to recognise that most people are not judging you and this in itself helps to build your confidence.

·         Self-confidence is an inner feeling of being in control of self and the situation being encountered in ways that help to achieve a positive outcome almost every time.

·         It is important to avoid being influenced by people who are intent in making you feel inadequate. This can be achieved by firstly identifying them and secondly knowing that by “not taking their comments and actions personally” their impact is significantly reduced.

·         The more you know about yourself and your capabilities the better able you are to make best use of the opportunities presented to, or created, by you.

·         Being focused on what you think you are good at and inviting feedback from a variety of people on what they perceive provides a useful reality test from which to keep building your strengths or “going back to the drawing board”.

·         Feedback of all types has been fantastic in helping me to be clear about what I am good at and what I can do that makes a positive difference.

·         Confidence has come from knowing self in enough detail to enable me to manage my behaviour in almost all interpersonal situations.

·         I completed a number of behavioural tests got the feedback and then asked my colleagues and friends to comment on what I had received. Their comments confirmed the value of open 360° feedback as it helped me to focus on the things that I and other believe I do well. This has resulted in even more positive feedback and growing confidence.


Common Themes

1      Self-awareness

The majority of those involved were convinced that you needed to have a sound understanding of what you stand for and the values and beliefs that drive your behaviour. There was an even split between those who actively sought feedback from a range of people and instruments from those who “picked it up” in a causal and non-planned manner.  

However, it was interesting to observe that those who had sought specific feedback were more accomplished in describing their strengths as well as areas in which they were not as strong. They also tended to display confidence in a more general manner that enabled them to relate to and achieve results with a greater number of colleagues. They described that by knowing how they behaved and reacted in response to certain triggers that were either created by themselves or by others, they became more accomplished in managing their overall behaviour.


2         Being in control
The majority believed that being in control of their behaviour was considered to be the greatest benefit from being self-aware. The more they felt in control of their behaviour the more they felt able to manage situations they encountered in ways that achieved constructive outcomes. As they experienced success with their interactions at home, work and socially their personal confidence increased.  

3         Getting support and encouragement
Having someone as a supporter, mentor, or coach was considered to be essential as this provided a great opportunity to discuss events and to share feelings and thoughts that occurred during certain encounters. It was stressed that trust needed to be strong with anyone providing support as important learning took place when able to openly share their inner thoughts, hopes, and fears. In most cases the support people were not expected to give advice or guidance as their role was mainly to listen, question to clarify, and enquire what the person intended to do about emerging awareness of the impact of their behaviour.

4         Avoiding the less constructive people
A significant number commented on how disempowering it was to be involved in a relationship or working environment with negative and critical people. Examples were quoted of how early support soon turned to less positive behaviour because the improvements being made were seen by the ‘support person’ as being to their disadvantage.

Gaining confidence journey

Using journey as a metaphor signals that the process of gaining confidence you will experience success along with roadblocks, detours, mini crisis, and poor visibility as some of the derailing experiences. This is not to discourage you only to say that most learning journeys will experience failures and in many cases these actually provides the strongest development opportunities. The important attitude to adopt is one of trust in the process as you will find that keeping focused on what you want to achieve that many of your friends and colleagues will provide support in many ways.


One of the starting points is to find out what you are really good at and it gives you pleasure/satisfaction when undertaking it. Does this activity or skill play a significant part in your life and if not, why not? Confidence usually comes from doing things that you gain some measurable satisfaction from. It therefore makes sense to focus on what you do well and find ways to improve your skills and capabilities to perform it even more effectively. If you have limited opportunities to use these skills and capabilities you should carefully consider if you are in the space to build confidence in ways that gives you the rewards and fulfilment you seek. If the environment is not enabling you to work in ways that you are best at doing maybe it is time to seek other environments that do offer you the opportunity to apply your preferred skills and capabilities.