There is no better feeling in this world than being absolutely fearless, sure of yourself, your abilities and your worth. However, we are social animals living and thriving together in a society, and therefore will always need each other. Which is why it is important that your confidence be a source for trust and hope, rather than resentment and intimidation.
I first heard this word in an episode of Boston Legal (An American T.V series), where the protagonist ‘Alan Shore’, a lawyer (played by James Spader), defends a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband. In the episode the evidence against her is presented as being flimsy and circumstantial at best, however, the media, the judge, the jury wants her to be found guilty. And as a viewer, so did I.
The character of the women (played with restraint, by Heather Locklear) seems reticent, unapologetic, calm, and sure of herself throughout the entire episode. To top it all she is rich, attractive and the sole heir to all her husband’s money. Alan Shore in his closing statements, calls out everyone (including me, the viewer) on wanting her to be found guilty simply because we don’t like her, which is where he talks about Schadenfreude. It’s a brilliant piece of writing, supported by an incredible performance by James Spader that incites one to think about personal and societal bias.
Now, let’s ring this in
Whether a person is confident or not, people like to seem confident, even in the face of doubt and fear. It’s a way of masking their vulnerable side. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of one’s reputation or goodwill. So let’s look at 5 situations to help identify what I like to call the 5 principles of Communicating Confidence!
1.Stand UP for Yourself, but be Respectful!
While working at a previous establishment, there was a colleague of mine, who always seemed very confident of himself. One day our salaries were delayed due to a banking error. It happened on a weekend, so he called up the HR to find out what had happened. So far so good! It took a while to understand what was going on, and the HR was attentive to his query and informed him that he would receive the salary on Monday. Still, so far so good. But then he decided to go one step further (for obvious reasons) and contacted the managing director and presented this as a complaint, in spite of the HR providing him with the information he needed. He did get his salary on Monday, but also went from being seen as a resourceful employee to just another wannabe alpha male!
2.Be Strong, but be Human!
Keeping your feelings and emotions to oneself is a powerful display of strength (It’s your way of communicating no one can get to you and nothing can bother you). But you still have to show a human side of yourself, if people need to feel safe enough to approach you or want to be friends. The colleague mentioned above redeemed himself after a few months. He did two things, for his birthday, he bought a box of chocolates (just like a kid in school) and went to each member in the office, personal distributing the sweets. This was not just a display a humility, but a gesture of companionship. Next, when one of our colleagues had a personal tragedy, he was the first person to be a source of support for the colleague, displaying his empathetic side.
3.Be Friendly with Everyone, but Set your Boundaries
Another story from my time at another establishment. For those of you have read my previous article Dating At Work: Real Life Stories on Office Romance – PART 2, you know who Boban is! Without going into too much detail the office we worked at had an informal tradition, for a person’s birthday, he/she was expected to treat the whole office to ‘a meal’. It began with a senior colleague (who could afford it) and then it sort of became ‘unofficially mandatory’ because junior team members found it difficult to say No. That is until Boban did. He was certainly friendly with everyone, and by that I mean he maintained a relationship with everybody (regular one-on-one conversations, maintaining a basic relationship). But when the ‘HR’ and certain other senior staff members inquired about the ‘treat’, he said, “I’m sorry! I have other plans. Maybe next year.” It was polite, subtle and friendly. Everyone got the message and no was ever asked a treat after that. And Boban always had the respect of everyone. Whatever happened to him after that was (if you’ve read the article, you know) a different issue.
4.Be Unapologetic about your Goals, but be Supportive of Others
I’ve been working in sales for a while and it’s been an adventure so far, especially the different kinds of people I’ve met over my career. And that includes my colleagues as well. One of them, in sales, was a consistent top performer, and almost always met his targets. He enjoyed his success and he was never modest about it. However, he was the antithesis of an ‘aggressive salesman’. He, in fact, would give his time to his colleagues ( his competition), in helping them strategize, talking to a potential lead and sometimes even closing a deal for them.
5. Don’t Let Your Ego Get in the way of being the BEST at What You Do
Ego is a by-product of confidence, so there’s no way around that. In fact, a healthy dose of ego can even help you deal with your insecurities (and we all have them). However, you should be able to keep your ego in check. The point being, if it is preventing you from acquiring the tools, skills or qualities which you deem are necessary for your growth as an individual or a professional, then that ego is doing more harm than good. Finally, I like to end with this thought
Let’s say you are the best employee/professional at your place of work. Everyone appreciates you for it, and you are quite proud of yourself. But then someone else comes along who is better than you and they (even though friendly) intimidate you Are you going to let your ego get in the way of learning something from them?
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Originally published at Medium