Let’s start simple. I outlined what I mean by confidence here. And for me, assertiveness how you act – but before we look at the two together, we need to be sure what assertiveness is. What it isn’t is riding over other people, their needs and wants and rights. Demanding you get the best table in the restaurant isn’t being assertive, it’s being an ass. Simply saying that you’ll not take on the extra bit of work isn’t being assertive, it’s being a twat.
Assertiveness is holding on to your rights, while at the same time respecting the rights of others. And it’s a lot harder than it sounds, because the balance is tricky. Go too far the other way and you’re not being assertive, but passive, and having your rights trodden on.
But as presenters, speakers, communicators of any kind, in public spaces, semi-public ones such as work, or the private spaces of our own homes, assertiveness is the ideal place to be. So here’s how I see it working. It’s easier to act assertively if you feel confident – and acting assertively in turn makes you feel more confident. It’s a form of virtuous circle. So far so good. And so far, so obvious.
If I could be bothered to animate the little graphic to the right, you’d see the arrows spinning round. (But you won’t, because I’m lazy – and because I have confidence you’ll figure it out for yourself 🙂 )
The hard part, as anyone who isn’t confident will tell you, is getting started. You can’t just suddenly act assertively if you don’t feel confident (well, you can, but it’s a lot harder – too hard for many people). Likewise you can’t just click your heals together and start to feel confident. And that’s where I come in, or at least where the tools of Confidence Month come in.
By using the tools for handling nerves, pushing at just the right point of the diagram, you should be a lot more able to feel confident enough – not confident, but confident enough, to act assertively. Maybe in only a small thing. And maybe only once. But once the while starts to spin, you’re on a roll (sorry about the pun!).
Which tools work for you depend on you and your circumstances. It might be that you need the tools for a presentation (yippee) or it might be to ask someone out on a date, or to ask for a raise. Whatever.
The point is that the tools of Confidence Month could be the start of something.
Another way of looking at confidence/assertiveness
Like all big concepts, confidence can be modelled in lots of ways. Let’s try another one in case it’s more useful to you 🙂
Action < perceived benefit – (fear of screwing up + fear of other people’s reactions) – laziness.
For the last one you’re on your own 😉
How to increase perceived benefit
Most people’s idea of ‘the big event’ (presentation or not!) is that they’ve got to do it: what they don’t have is a clear, robust and focused idea of what the benefits are. To be brutal about it, if you don’t know exactly why you’re doing something and how the world will be a better place as a result, you shouldn’t be doing the presentation, because there’s a very real chance of it being a failure. After all, if you don’t know what you’re trying to do, how will you know if you’re doing it?! My advice is simple – set aside some time in your diary to figure out what the benefits of your action/presentation/whatever are. Then list them. And put that list somewhere clear when you’re working on the event. Having a focussed target will boost your perceived benefit.
Don’t undermine yourself by over-estimating the benefits – that way you’ll just know you’re fibbing to yourself an the technique won’t work. On the other hand, don’t sabotage yourself by pretending you don’t know what the benefits are. Be honest, be brave.
How to decrease the two fears in brackets
Let’s talk about the two fears now, and how the nerve tools in Confidence Month can help. Essentially for both of these what’s needed is a way of reducing them, or at least a way of reducing the amount of damage they cause. Actually, let’s not spend much time on this, ‘cos it’s pretty obvious… by using the tools of nerve control, you can significantly reduce the fear of screwing up. Nothing will reduce it to zero, of course – and nor should it – but as the adverts say, every little helps!
What are we doing in confidence month?
This question is really, really simple, we’re trying to make the equation easier by providing the tools to reduce nerves and other things to increase confidence 😉 The whole month is dedicated to providing all the nerve control and related tools we can share with you!
[jbox color=’blue’ title = ‘Why isn’t there an equal sign in the equation?’]
Because the stuff on the right must be greater than zero for you to act. If it’s exactly zero you’re better of doing nothing, and saving your energy for something else 😉