Credibility in the workplace starts with confidence. Andrea shares two mindsets and five tactics to help build your confidence and credibility. Her challenge to you is to identify a few suggestions from this list that will help you establish credibility.

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TRANSCRIPT

Recently, I was hired by a CEO to coach one of his middle managers. The CEO told me that this manager was an emerging leader. He was showing signs of being ready for promotion, but he really needed to demonstrate credibility and leadership.

 

Last week when we were in our third 1:1 coaching session, this young emerging leader admitted to me that he often feels imposter syndrome, and he could use a confidence boost. He and I decided to create a list of strategies for him to improve his confidence and credibility. His list included many many mindsets, frameworks, and tactics that we went through one by one. After our coaching session, I thought: gosh this would be a great list to share with the talk about talk listeners! so what I’ve done is I’ve taken the seven of the strategies on this list and I’m gonna share them with you now. These are the seven strategies that I personally use and that seem to get the most traction with my clients.
This list includes two mindsets and five tactics. My challenge to you is to identify a couple of the things on this list that you can use to help you boost your confidence and your credibility. Are you ready?

 

Welcome to Talk about Talk Podcast Episode #156 Five ways to reinforce your Professional identity. In case we haven’t met, my name is Doctor Andrea. Wojnicki please just call me. I’m your executive communication. I coach and business executives like you to improve their communication skills so you can communicate with confidence and clarity. Credibility. And then you can create impact, ultimately achieving your career goals. Sound good? If you want to learn more, check out talk about talk.com. I’ve got lots and lots of resources for you there. I’ve got one-on-one coaching, bootcamps, online courses, information about corporate workshops, the archive of this bi weekly podcast, and when you’re there, I really hope to sign up for my email newsletter. That newsletter is your chance to get free communication program from me every two weeks. Sound good? 

 

OK let me start with a quick story about my own confidence or lack there of. Some of you may have heard this story before. Early in my career when I was working in brand management at Kraft foods, I was asked to speak at a national sales conference. This was a great honour for me. As you can imagine, I prepared myself thoroughly. When the day finally came, I stepped out on stage… And I completely lost it. My face turned red. My hands turned clammy. I had sweaty armpits. And I was shaking. It was a lovely site. Let me tell you. It was all I could do to walk across the stage grasp onto the podium and read my presentation. Word for Word from my written notes. Pathetic. When I was done, I ran off stage and my boss Sandra asked Me Andrea are you OK? No I’m definitely not. I went to a quiet place and collected my thoughts. First of all, this can never ever happen again. So what am I gonna do? Two things. One I’m going to volunteer every opportunity I have to do public speaking. I must get over this! Too. I’m gonna start collecting tips or hacks that work for other people and that might work for me to help me boost my confidence.

 

Starting on that day I start I created a mental list of different mindsets and tactics that might help me use my own confidence and now as a communication coach I continue to add to this list and share this list with my clients.

 

Now I’m gonna share with you seven of these tips. These are strategies that I use myself and also the things that I see working for my clients. Two of the seven tips are mindsets. The other five are more tactical in nature. Again, my challenge to you is to identify a couple of the things maybe two specific strategies from this list of seven that can help you boost your confidence and your credibility.

 

Here we go.

 

The first strategy is to adopt a growth mindset. I know what you’re thinking. Andrea, a growth mindset is when I reframe mistakes and failures as learning opportunities. That’s great. But it’s not gonna cut it when I’m standing in front of the room giving a big important presentation and I fail.

OK, fair enough, adopting a growth mindset when you feel nervous and maybe your presentation is failing, it might help your psychological well-being in the long run, but it’s not gonna help your career in the short term is it? I get it. I have a different way of thinking about a growth mindset when it comes to conquering our confidence issues. It’s about focussing on your genuine curiosity, your growth, your learning mindset.

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of Q&A or question and answer sessions – live. I never know what questions people are gonna ask me and sometimes I get a little nervous. So do you know what I do? I recite my growth mindset mantra. It goes like this: “I know what I know and I’m keen to learn more.” There are really two parts of this. I know what I know. This is me reminding myself of my expertise. (More on that in a minute.) the second part is: “I’m keen to learn more.“ Here, I’m reminding myself of my genuine growth mindset, my focus on learning and growing, and my curiosity. When you focus on your curiosity and your desire to learn, it’s almost like no one can catch you. Imagine someone asked you a question that you are in no-way qualified to answer. If you have a growth mindset, you could say: wow that’s a fascinating question! I don’t even know where to begin, but let me tell you what I do know and then you can share with them – based on your expertise, based on your experience, based on your background, what you do know, and then you could say: “I’m gonna do some research, or I’m gonna talk to someone else and get an answer ,and I’ll get right back to you. Thank you.”

 

This is just one example of how you can use a growth mindset when you’re feeling nervous. I encourage you whenever you’re feeling a lack of confidence to focus on your growth mindset. Consciously consider your desire to learn and your curiosity. This can take a lot of pressure off of knowing everything and having the right answer for every single question.

So that’s the first strategy. Adopting a growth mindset.

The second strategy is also mindset related. It’s focussing on your personal brand.

What I mean here is focussing on your unique strengths and passions.

Often when we’re feeling nervous, it’s because we have an implicit belief that others are going to expect us to know everything. Focussing on your personal brand or your unique strengths can also take the pressure off here. It’s not that you’re good at everything, and it’s not that you know everything, but you do know what your strengths are.

When I coach ambitious executives on identifying and articulating their personal brand, we come up with a list of several themes – they could be personality traits, they could be their leader ship style, they could be their industry or their disciplinary expertise, this is where they have expertise and passion.

After we create this page listing their personal branding themes, I encourage folks to print it off or create a Screenshot and then every time they’re going in to lead an important meeting, to make an important presentation, or maybe even to go into a job interview, make this the last page that you look at , before you go into the room or before you go out on stage.

Again, it’s not that you’re good at EVERYTHING! but the items on this page are the things that you know are your unique strengths. This can’t help but elevate or boost your confidence.

I remember when I was in a board meeting many many years ago and the conversation got sidetracked into investments that the firm was making. I remember looking across the board room table at a bunch of guys talking about the pros and cons of various investment strategies and thinking why am I here? Am I an imposter? Do I belong here? I have 3 degrees in business and sure I can talk about a balance sheet or an income statement. This is getting, but this is out of my league. Then I reminded m myself of the reason why I was brought onto this board. It was for my branding and strategy expertise. So when there was a lull in the conversation, I raised my hand, and I said, based on our strategic priorities, my suggestion is that the investment strategy should integrate with these priorities…

I remember consciously noticing everyone’s chair turning towards me and a bunch of heads, nodding. With that one sentence, I got the meeting back on track, and I also reinforced my professional identity as the branding and strategy expert in the room.

 

The next time you feel like an imposter, remind yourself of your personal brand and specifically your unique strengths. This can’t help but boost your confidence. And your credibility!

So those are the first two strategies both of them are mindsets. The first one is adopt a growth mindset, and the second mindset is to focus on your personal brand. Focus on your unique strengths.

The third strategy is much more tactical. It’s breathing. You’ve probably heard this a million times. When you feel that shot of adrenaline, just take a slow deep breath. I have a slightly different take on this, based on what I’ve been reading lately. It’s this: slow your exhale. Very often when we focus on our breathing, we focus on our inhale. Instead, think about slowing your exhale. Here’s the insight. When you slow your exhale, your brain thinks: wait! she’s not gasping for air. Everything must be OK. and then it is ok.

Recently, when I’ve mentioned this to a few of my clients, we also talked about how there’s like a positive placebo effect here. If you believe it’s true, by slowing our exhale, we’ll reduce our stress, then yes the research shows that is what happens, but also because your brain believes it, it amplifies the effect. So that’s the third strategy. Slow your breathing, specifically your exhale.

The fourth strategy is something that seems to get a lot of traction with people. Like immediately when I tell it to them, I can see on their face that this is something that they’re going to try, and then they tell me it does work. And I can tell you personally, that I do this and it definitely works for me. It’s this: frame your nerves as a positive. Put another way, when you feel that shot of adrenaline, when you feel the butterflies, when you feel your body temperature spiking, and your face turning red, consciously say to yourself: “yes! That adrenaline I’m fuelling me up to perform!”

 

A while ago, when I was doing some reading on imposter syndrome, research paper after research paper highlighted that almost everybody experiences, imposter syndrome, men women, young old, successful, and unsuccessful. It’s almost everybody. And almost everybody feels nervous. In fact, the people that DONT feel imposter syndrome, the people who never feel nervous, They’re are the ones that end up showing up FLAT when they’re on stage.

You may have seen these folks in the past. Maybe you’re at a conference and there’s a panel of four or five people sitting on barstools on stage and they’re asking him questions. 

Inevitably, one of them will come across as far too casual or aloof. This might be the person who is not feeling any adrenaline whatsoever.

So the next time you feel that shot of adrenaline remind yourself that that that you’re now fuelled up and ready to perform.

On to the fifth strategy.  We’ve covered four strategies so far: the first was adopting a growth mindset. The second is focussing on your personal brand or your unique strengths. The third is breathing – slow your exhale, and the fourth is reframing your nerves as a positive. This is the fuel that you need to perform. 

The fifth strategy for boosting your confidence is emulation. As in copying. Here’s the exercise. Ask yourself: whose confidence do you admire? It could be a senior leader in your firm or maybe a celebrity CEO or perhaps it’s even a friend or family member. When you feel your nerves, ask yourself, how would this person respond? How would this person act? And then, simply act like them.

I had an experience many many years ago that I’ve shared a couple times that’s relevant here. I was a relatively new faculty member at the University of Toronto and they asked me to give a lecture to the first year marketing students at convocation hall. This is an auditorium that seats thousands. I was honoured to do this lecture, and let me tell you – once again, I was prepared.

When the day finally came, I dressed in my favourite pantsuit and my favourite heels. They asked me to arrive half an hour early so that they could get the AV set up. Like I said, this was a huge auditorium. When I walked in, the lights were all turned off, except there was a spotlight on the stage. The AV guy hooked up my headset and microphone and asked me to walk out on stage to test the audio and my slides. I remember feeling the heat of the spotlight on me, and thinking… my God I feel like a rockstar!  I kind of feel like Madonna! So I when the lecture finally started, I imagined that I was Madonna with all of her charisma and confidence. I copied Madonna’s confidence. When the lecture was over, I remember genuinely feeling like a rockstar. The young students got up out of their chairs, and many of them rushed the stage to talk to me. When do you have office hours? Are you gonna keep teaching this course? What other courses do you teach?

 

Thank you Madonna. Here’s the bonus part of the story. Now when I look back at the many many lectures, workshops and keynotes that I’ve led, this is one of the public speaking experiences that really stands out in terms of my confidence and connection with the students to the audience. So whenever I’m feeling a lack of confidence, sure I can act like Madonna, but I can also emulate exactly how I felt when I was on stage at convocation hall.

 

So here’s the question for you. When did YOU knock it out of the park when you were on stage? Maybe it was when you were in a job interview or perhaps it was when you were leading a meeting, or giving an important presentation? Ask yourself: what was my mindset for that presentation or what tactics worked? And then in the future, whenever you feel that shot of adrenaline, you can emulate or copy yourself from that experience.

So that’s the fifth strategy: emulate or copy someone else’s or your own confidence from a successful presentation that you made.

Onto the sixth strategy: positive self talk. 

The next time you’re feeling nervous, or a lack of confidence, I encourage you to be conscious of your selftalk. What are you saying to yourself in your head? Instead of ruminating and focussing on your anxiety, give yourself a positive peptalk. How would a supportive friend speak to you if you were experiencing anxiety? 

I asked a friend of mine, Angie, to provide me with a peptalk once before I went out on stage with some improv actors. When the evening finally came, and there I was on stage, again, with the spotlight on my face, and my body temperature rising.

I remember Angie’s words coming back to my brain. Andrea, you got this! andrea there’s a reason that they asked you and not someone else to do this. you’re gonna knock it out of the park.

 

This, by the way, is exactly how we should be talking to ourselves. Research conducted by Professor Ethan Kross at the University of Michigan highlights how speaking to ourselves in second person is most effective in terms of halting negative rumination. Here’s how that would sound if I was talking to myself. I would say, “Andrea you got this!”

Try it for yourself.  Say your name and use the word you.

You can imagine the research that they did to come to this conclusion about using second person. They probably had people writing or speaking out loud to themselves in first person. “I got this.” And others in second person “you got this! The research shows that second person is most effective. This is another example where there may also be a positive placebo. Ever since I learned about this research insight, I think it’s become particularly effective for me because I read the research and I understand how it works. 

The next time you’re feeling nervous, and you could use a confidence, boost, consciously say to yourself, your name, you, and give yourself a peptalk. Andrea, you got this. It works, I promise!

So that’s the six strategy. On to the seventh and last strategy and it’s this focus: on your main point. What exactly does this mean? Well if you’re in the middle of a speech and you feel your nerves getting out of control, maybe you even forget what you’re talking about, go back and focus on your main point. Or if you’re in a meeting like I mentioned, and you’re feeling like you’re an imposter, go back to the main objective of the meeting, or maybe the main strategy of the organization. There are really two benefits of this strategy. First, in most instances, focussing on the main point, or the main objective, or the main strategy is almost always a good thing, and other people will appreciate it. Second, reminding yourself of the main point will refocus your thoughts, away from negative rumination, and toward something relevant for that context. This is something that I share with my clients who are preparing for a big formal speech. If all else fails return to your main point. It doesn’t have to be a formal speech. This insight also works in meetings, and even one on one conversations.

 

And that’s it! These are my top seven ways to boost your confidence and your credibility. Do you remember what they were? Don’t worry, I’m gonna review them for you now I hate quizzes too! As I’m reviewing these, I encourage you to think about which one or two you think will help you get the most traction for you to boost your confidence and credibility.

 

The first two were mindsets:

  1. the first was adopting a growth mindset. Focus on your genuine curiosity and desire to learn. It’s really hard to fail when you’re learning isn’t it?
  2. The second is focussing on your personal brand or your unique strengths. It’s not that you’re great at everything, but when you’ve taken the time to list your expertise and your strengths, this is got to boost your confidence.
  3. The third is breathing – slow your exhale. It’s easy and it works.
  4. The fourth is reframing your nerves as a positive. That shot of adrenaline you’re experiencing is the fuel that you need to perform.
  5. The fifth strategy for boosting your confidence is copying. Copying someone else’s confidence whom you admire, or maybe copying the confidence that you experienced in the past when you were successful.
  6. The sixth strategy to boost your confidence and credibility is positive self talk. Provide yourself with a mental peptalk in second person, the way, a supportive friend with would would talk to you.
  7. And the seventh and last strategy is to focus on your main point. If you’re standing on stage and lose your place, restate your main point. If you’re in a meeting and things are going off track bring people back to the main point on the agenda. Other people will appreciate it, and it will refocus your thoughts away from negative rumination towards what matters.

 

Now again, here’s your challenge. Identify which identify a couple of these seven strategies that you think will work best for you. Try them out for a week a few weeks and see if you feel a boost in your confidence and your credibility. Let me know how it goes!

 

If  you enjoyed this podcast episode, I do hope you’ll share with your friends who could also benefit from a boost to their confidence and credibility. You could also leave me a review on whatever podcast app you’re using. It really makes a difference and I appreciate it.

 

Don’t forget to signup for my free communication coaching newsletter on the talkabouttalk.com website. 

 

Thanks again for listening.  And talk soon!