I grew up painfully shy and lacking in confidence in every respect until the age of 12.. see that picture? It’s of me being shy and just petrified of my grandmas. Now I love nothing more than chatting to OAPs in the Post Office queue or random strangers in the communal kitchens at work, so what changed? And what can we do to improve our confidence?
Confidence is the one personality attribute which can chop and change from week to week, you might go through one week of feeling like you just completely suck at life whereas the next week is a permanent path right over the cloud 9 of being awesome. Confidence can be built up and knocked down by friends, family, clients, colleagues and management – there will be so many external factors that you feel are out to get you but you have to learn to rise above it.
Growing up painfully shy…
It was only through sport that I found out I was good at something because people told me I was fast or elected me for a team. It all fell in place when I went to secondary school but it wasn’t instant, I still remember a teacher told me off on my first day for wearing ankle trainer socks instead of full length (ohh yes!) socks. Looking back I think she thought I was older than a little young Year 7 and in all fairness I was a little bit lanky at that point due to an impromptu growth spurt. Either way, I just hung my head in shame and embarrassment and walked off all upset, back then I’d just deal with stuff like that now I kind of respond back to it.
Putting yourself in nerve-wracking situations…
Confidence is a slow grower, it certainly wasn’t an instant overnight process – as I grew up at school, I realised that I liked putting my hand up in class to read a chapter from a book we were studying in English or I didn’t mind reading at a year assembly. My hobbies put me in difficult and challenging situations too, like playing the flute solo at the beginning of Lord of the Flies in a concert band in Disneyland Paris or being the 4th leg of a relay at the Borough sports. My parents never forced me to do these things, my enjoyment of music and sport put me in these positions.
The highs and the lows…
It didn’t all go well and with risk there is always failure, especially in sport. The first time I ran a 10k race was in Melbourne and it was traumatising as I had been bed-bound the week before with a nasty chest infection. Similarly, there was the day I found out I didn’t make the Royal Academy of West England’s Open exhibition just last month, I felt the feeling of failure there and my confidence took a real dent. With every negative, you need to find a positive – and if you can’t find it, you need to find someone around you who can, so having friends telling me how good my submitted art piece seriously helped pull me out of the hole. It’s so true what they say about surrounding yourself with positive people, the moment you cut lose a negative person you feel the confidence levels suddenly grow. I got over the poor 10k by going back to running without pressure, and building up confidence by getting good times and working hard. In my mind, confidence is hard work and positive self talk. Failure to do this, is just gearing up for some kind of confidence meltdown.
The guys at Instant Confidence have developed an online course designed to help you address your self confidence issues. It’s an online powerpoint which you login to watch. Within this there a number of sub-sections, mental confidence, physical confidence and behaviour. From the course I instantly realised everything is linked, so a poor posture instantly reflects signs of poor confidence which people around you will notice, and like a vicious circle it will come back to you as some people take advantage of this treating you like a door mat consequently making you feel mentally less confident.
These are the things I learnt from the course:
- Confidence levels can change on a daily or hourly basis – so true! It made me feel really irrational being aware of this, but actually it’s so true – someone or something can just instantly change your whole outlook on whether you’re good at your job or a good friend
- Half of the trick is learning and accepting that you don’t have as much self-confidence as you should – having the inability to accept compliments is a real sign
- Emphasise important words – never thought about this before but actually slowing down what you’re saying and emphasising the key words makes your message clearer
- Knowledge of what you’re talking about can give you confidence – this is something I find time and time again in my job, knowledge really is power. The more you have, the better you are at holding a great conversation and having people respect you.
- Don’t just be Miss Chatty – I am guilty as charged at doing this, chatting to overcompensate awkward silences. Learn to realise they’re not awkward but probably natural.
- Keep your spirits high about the next day – easier said than done, everyone likes to think they can do this but I actually find it really tricky thinking like this unless it’s a Thursday evening and the next day is Friday. I think this point tackles the whole idea of not being bogged down by negative things which eat away at your confidence.
- At this stage in the course, you get to watch different scenarios where an actor behaves differently and you have to identify what you observed about this – to be honest this was the most enjoyable part of the course on the basis of it actually applying theory to a visually-familiar situation. It feels like it’s all good reading about tips but to receive some sort of training based on visual feedback is great and engaging.
- Even if you are terrified, do not show it! Turn terror into laughter, genuinely, I laugh whenever I feel tense so it may come across as overcompensating but I feel laughter always alleviates any situation.
The course tests you with what you know at the end of each section. At the end, Plus One is introduced which is present by Instant Confidence as a mindset which you must remember and visualise in the face of anxiety or a tense situation. You can apply the Plus One theory in many situations in and around your life – I perceived this to be positive imagery and association with a confident moment in the past. The key is to taking a deep breath, standing tall and remembering a confident and successful moment when you were sensational at life.
Overview of the Instant Confidence course
I liked it in some ways but still felt it could be developed. Like I said before when discussing behaviour improving techniques, I felt like the strongest part of the course was the video because it was engaging. The rest of the course felt a bit monotonous and the over use of stock photography conveying fake gestures and actions seemed to contradict the nature of the course – showing genuine, honest and open body language. I’d like to see more video and more interaction.
The quizzes were good but I didn’t like how I had to click twice to get onto the next question, I’d rather see all my scores at the end of the quiz as I am conventionally used to. I felt the last quiz was a bit excessive but this might be due to the basic level of tips and advice that was provided on this course.
It would be great to see this course expanded into different levels of confidence building, the advice I read here was often advice I’ve come across before or I felt it would sometimes be stating the obvious in parts. For instance, I’d like to see how they suggest confidence building in a professional context e.g. in a meeting. It would be nice to hear more specific scenarios which I can test out my newly found skills. For this course, it reminded me of a few things people have said to me so there was some benefit, I just fear that people’s attention may dwindle when going through it.
My final point on a usability note is, it’d be good to have an interstitial interface which outlines all parts of the course so you can work out if you have time to do it one evening or you can navigate around it more easily.
Confidence is a very fragile entity of the human psychology, be prepared to through yourself into risky situations and the fight or flight instinct will kick right in.