In my quest to understand and develop confidence, I asked some confident folks for insight into what in the hell confidence is and how they live more confidently.
First up is Caitlin Berczik, an A+ colleague and friend whose creativity and outspokenness I admired for the two years we worked together. With a background in theatre and communications, she provided great insight into confidence as both performance and strategic reputational management. Please enjoy!
How do you show your own confidence?
Wow, I’ve never really thought about it much!
I guess for me showing confidence has a lot to do with feeling confident. I don’t always feel confident, but I believe strongly that how we perceive ourselves has a big impact on how others perceive us. For me, being confident starts with trusting myself, and not feeding my little voice of self judgement. Have you ever looked at an old picture of yourself, maybe from some awkward period in your life when you thought you just looked terrible, and said “Oh man, I was actually really cute! I should have been more confident back then.” Interesting how some distance changes what we see about ourselves. We are always so much more aware of our flaws than others are. For me, realizing that I’m not nearly as interesting to the rest of the world as I am to myself kinda helps me think about myself in a more accepting way and allows me to behave in a way that is more authentic and less trying to be what I think other people want from me. And that, in turn, makes me feel a lot more confident.
I’d say body language comes into play for me as well. I mean, I’m really slouchy in general, but if I’m trying to make an impression I think about how I comport myself. When I was in acting school, we took a lot of “movement” classes. Sometimes the teacher would ask us to walk in a certain way “head forward”, “arms crossed”, “on tip toes” and we’d have to build a character and emotional state based on how that walk made us feel. So, sometimes I’m super aware of how I’m standing or walking, whether I’m making eye contact, etc. Sometimes I’m not at all! But, when I’m trying to demonstrate confidence I think a lot more purposefully about those things and I’m being deliberate. I’m making sure I’m taking up space, and not shrinking away physically. I also try to speak at meetings as much as I can. Etc.
Since you saw a LOT of me in a professional environment recently, do you have any recommendations on things I should do to appear or become more confident?
Hmmmm… Tough question.
Tackling how to become more confident is tricky because it really is different from person to person. But, if you think you need to feel more confident then I have two pieces of advice that have helped me: 1) Don’t feed the self-judgement monster; 2) Don’t let external factors outside of your control determine your self-worth. Be honest about your flaws, but don’t diminish yourself. What is the story you tell yourself about yourself? Are there any elements in that story that are actually toxic and damaging to your confidence? If so, re-write that story post haste. Put yourself in the driver’s seat and really shape how you feel about yourself. You are in control.
Then, of course, there’s always body language. My movement classes at acting school were key in helping me become more aware of the messages I send through body language, and how to shape them. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of things we do that affect how others perceive us. My one movement teacher used the Alexander Technique, and it was super helpful, if not a little whacky, but you know… Maybe such a class would be beneficial? I bet they have them in DC somewhere…
I wish I had something more practical to say about all of this! But, I think it really begins with you taking a look at the things you believe and say to yourself, and starting to reverse areas in which you might be undermining yourself unintentionally.