Friday, 16 March 2012

More (not so simple) ways to be Confident

Many of my clients come to me not just for more confidence but also to learn new skills in being assertive, speaking up and increasing their energy and motivation levels.

A common concern is being scared to speak out, either in a meeting or in a social gathering. I have witnessed this many times over myself when I have been at a party or a networking event and find myself being the one that always tries to get people to open up by asking lots of questions and generally being interested, or to join in on any debates, discussions etc.

I have never worried about whether I am knowledgeable enough, being totally content to ask questions for clarity or to say 'Don't know much about that, tell me more'. People love to talk about their area of expertise. However, to not know anything much about anything at all, is not really acceptable if you want to be interesting to others and feel confident.

So I repeat the 10 simple ways to get more Confidence after this next session, which is not so simple to adopt!

  • Read a newspaper regularly, either on the web or the paper variety. Listen to the news and keep up to date with what is going on in the world
  • Pick the subjects that interest you and find out more by researching, watching programmes or reading books
  • Keep up to date with government policy and discuss with others if they agree or not, and why? Don't be afraid to learn from others. We can't know everything! but also make your own mind up by looking at all the facts
  • Keep up to date with your own profession. 1 hour per week is minimum for ongoing development and learning
  • Get a coach and at least read self development books or listen to audio
  • Set your self goals and write an action plan to achieve the one that is top priority. Review, reflect and celebrate achievement
  • Ask your boss what you can do to get that promotion. Get clarity on their expectations and find out where you can upskill to progress in work?
  • Get yourself a brand new hobby that you always wanted to do and to hell with if you're that good at it!
  • Volunteer work - meet people you would not normally associate with and learn how others live
  • Pick a theme each year on something new you will do that takes you outside of your comfort zone
  • Praise other people all the time. You will be rewarded in so many ways if this becomes a habit.

And to repeat:

10 quick and practical methods to increase your confidence:

    Smile loads! Smile when you meet people and generally be happier even if you’re not feeling that way.

   Learn from the past but don't dwell on that which you can't change. You could even ask yourself 'What was good about that?' for a great reframe of the situation.

 Buy yourself some new clothes, get your hair done, treat yourself to something new. I know you won't need too much encouragement from me on that one!

 Are you prepared for situations? Are you prepared enough to meet any challenge that may come up? Are you prepared for that networking event, that presentation, meeting someone for the first time? If not, get to it.

Play to your strengths. Expose yourself to what you are good at, at every opportunity. Improve your weaknesses and put a plan in place to improve them in time.

Don't be a people-pleaser! Learn how to say no to people, when you really want to. After you’ve said it the first time, there will be no going back. 

 Be in charge of your thoughts at all times. If you’re thinking negative thoughts, you’re probably asking a negative question or focusing on the problem rather than the solution. Change the question to a more positive one.

Whenever you feel stressed ask 'is this really important in the grand scheme of things?' If you're having to make a tough decision, ask yourself how each of the options affect the next 10 hours, 10 days 10 months etc. (I call this my 10/10 rule).

At the end of each day list your achievements and successes throughout that day. Acknowledging them before you ask 'What could I have done better?' is a great discipline.

Every morning when you’re in the shower, visualise your day as though it was already a success. Visualise success and the relevant confidence and it will be so.

In Appreciation of Mothers

I thought I would do something different for the special occasion that is Mother's Day. It is important that we validate our love for family and friends on a regular basis and so I have written this poem, dedicated to my mother who, like many others, has not been perfect but has been crucial to my happiness, throughout my life.

The love of a mother to her child
Can there be one more enduring and deep?
She who makes many sacrifices all her life
And is always there for us when we weep

The love of a mother to her child
Can it ever be properly returned?
All we can do is replicate with our own
And give unconditionally, as we have learned

So whether you are one or both
Let’s rejoice in the wonder that is Mother
And say a big thanks for their love,
support, comfort, direction and other!

By Nadia Cenci

Friday, 9 March 2012

Are You Rich?

I remember reading an article that stated that the constant pursuit of happiness can make us miserable! Allegedly it’s because we are generally not satisfied and always looking for more of everything - more shoes, more clothes, bigger cars and houses etc etc.
Not only that it alluded to happiness being short lived resulting in us looking to bigger and better things.

This may be true of some, perhaps those that lack self esteem and think others are measuring them against their material possessions. They constantly compare themselves, instead of measuring their own self development.

I believe that those that are truly happy inside, do not pursue more and more, but instead live a life of gratitude and contentment whilst giving to others (this in itself is a richly fulfilling experience).

So are you Rich?

I don’t mean in money terms but in real honest every day life terms. Do you love your job, friends, family, hobbies and most importantly yourself? Do your activities give you great joy and excitement? Are you learing something new all the time? Do you give to others?

Being rich means feeling and being at your best, recognising the importance of goal setting and goal attainment, for it is more than useful to know what you want to do with your life and where you want to go.

It's also very important to know what type of person you want to be as well and how you can continue the journey of personal and emotional intelligence.

The direction that self improvement should come from is not one of inadequacy. Instead, it should come from the belief that you are already a wonderful unique person and want to improve even further.

The self image that you show to everyone is the external result of your internal self-esteem and richness presents a dignified presence to the world. ‘Rich’ people let others know “I am a good person. I deserve to be respected.”

In order for you to maximise your potential in life and feel rich, you must be able to put yourself into a position whereby you feel good about yourself so that you can radiate the confidence, energy and enthusiasm required to be a success. Otherwise, there will always be something that will be holding you back - the effects of a low self-esteem.

You see, when we can love and respect ourselves,  it is possible to feel truly confident and assured. And living like this brings all sorts of rewards. One of Richness!

Assertiveness - Confidently Saying No!

One of the most common attributes, of those that tell me they are not assertive, is the need to say yes to everything, when really they want to say NO sometimes!

I've experienced friends like this, who want to please people, but actually let you down far more by double booking, opting out at the last moment and generally causing havoc!
 It really doesn't benefit anyone to be a people-pleaser!

So learn to say No and take control of your life.

Saying “NO” and meaning it!

How can you confidently respond when someone makes a request you’d prefer not to accommodate? 

The question has just been posed.  Pause. 

Was your inclination to say yes, even though there’s a voice deep down saying “no.” If thats the case then let’s raise the volume on that inner voice. 

What possible reasons could there be for saying no?

§  It’s beyond your means?
§  It’s beyond your comfort level?
§  You're on a diet and going out will wreck it?
§  You're being taken for granted?

Identify all the reasons you have for saying “no.”  Identify which stem from a lack of confidence, versus a sincere wish to say no. 

What would happen if you said yes?  Perhaps:

§  You would be considered a teamplayer
§  It would make that person happy
§  You would be doing something outside your comfort box
§  You will be doing a good favour

Would the discomfort involved in saying yes outweigh the benefits of possibly going along with the request? Or vice-versa? Is it a favour and one that is absolutely needed right now and so No is out of the question? Would you like to be persuaded to go outside your comfort zone?

What is the cost v benefit?

The role of guilt

Saying “no” is hard for many of us. We feel so guilty and want people to like us. Instead of analysing our feelings we tend to just jump in with a Yes and worry about it all later. However being authentic, honest to self and others are values that should be held dearly if we are to be confident and contented. 

Saying “NO”

You’ve made the decision, after completely weighing the results of your cost/benefit analysis, to honestly say “NO”. 

Well, go ahead and say it clearly, and the mirror. 

Look yourself in the eye, and do it.  Just say “NO.” 

Say it like you really mean it, and then say it again as you would to whomever made the request of you.  When you pretend you’re speaking to the person who made the request, does it come out differently? 

After you say “NO”

If you’re used to giving in to others, then guess what? 

You may or many not be surprised to find that they are not willing to accept it! They may be a littel indignant and they may push, rephrase the question, or make a new, not dissimilar request. 

Be prepared for this and know your boundary—what ARE you willing to do? Work it out beforehand and, like any negotiating table, have your 'walk away point'.

Revisit the questions you asked yourself before—what would happen if you said no, or yes?

If you are serious about saying “NO” then stick to your guns. 

Tell the individual making the request that you would appreciate it if they respected your wishes, and ask them to refrain from pursuing it further. 

If you are comfortable expressing your “reasons why” then do so speaking from your personal perspective. In fact this does help to alleviate the no. Most people are very reasonable with a rejection of their request, if they understand and have empathy with the other person.

The Pause Button

Don’t forget that when anyone asks a question of you, you are perfectly OK to say, “Can I think about that and get back to you”. No-one should be pressurised into giving an immediate answer, even if the delay is only a couple of minutes. It will give you some time to think it through and to gather your thoughts.

It will give you time to analyse what you really want to do, weigh up everything and prepare the response.

What will happen when you are more assertive?

§  You will feel much more confident and proud. Your self-esteem will grow
§  You will find that practice makes perfect—the more you confidently say “NO” the easier it becomes. 
§  Others will respect your wishes and take you seriously and appreciate you more when you say Yes
§  You won’t find yourself doing things you never wanted to do in the first place. 
§  You’ll have more time to focus on the things you do want to be involved in. 
§  And so on...