Most of us who have experienced periods of low self-confidence, are often not really been aware that we were coming across to other people as insecure. The vast majority of the women I work with do not self identify as lacking self confidence. They just hate public speaking. Or, they feel frustrated with results they’re getting in some area of their lives, but not really sure why.
I remember pitching my own business plan way back, and overhearing someone in the audience comment, “She doesn’t seem to be secure in what she’s talking about.” Ouch.
To help you become aware of how you come across to other people, I wrote this list of signs that others certainly would interpret as lacking confidence.
1. Defensive. You know this already. It is painful to try and discuss a situation with a defensive person, one who for some reason feels personally attacked. If you’re being even a little bit defensive, I can promise people are not comfortable talking to you about real issues. If you suspect you may be coming across as defensive, simply ask a buddy. Defensiveness can be the elephant in the room — something you definitely want to get rid of.
2. Indecisive. I used to have indentations on my derriere from spending so much time sitting on the fence, keeping my options open. If you have a hard time making decisions, it’s because you have excessive fear of making a mistake. Let me assure you, it’s easier to recuperate from a “bad” decision than from a non-decision. Making good decisions fast is a skill that improves with practice.
3. Using qualifiers in excess. These qualifiers also point to indecision: It might be prudent to….Perhaps we could think about….That could have been a reason….The prospect seems to be somewhat interested. Just say it.
4. Apologizing….a lot. There are people who never apologize because they never do anything for which to apologize. Or rather, they are not strong enough to admit being imperfect. Those are not the people I work with (they would never need help in any area of their lives anyway.) My clients, and a whole boat load of people I observe apologize for things like, when their purse hits someone’s arm, they make a mistake in speaking, they want the bank teller to give them four $5 bills instead of a $20 bill. In their heart of hearts, these people probably don’t feel that they’ve done something wrong, that really merits an apology, they simply have this habit of apologizing all the time. It’s annoying and gives the impression that you would love to be a door mat.
5. Never confronting…until blowing up in rage. This can be ugly to watch, and worse to experience. People who are so nice, so easy-going, so sweet, until the day they overreact and leave observers (usually only close friends and family) spinning in a maelstrom of anger pent up for weeks, or months, or maybe even longer. This type of situation usually leaves hurt feelings and is the result of someone being afraid to express a preference, to politely disagree, or to decline a commitment.
It was my chic hair-dresser who helped me see that being easy-going can often be a mask for lack of self-confidence. It’s deciding other people’s preferences have merit, and yours don’t. The problem is, eventually the easy-going person does want to make a decision, and that can really bother some people because they’re used to your supporting them, and not the converse.
So, give the matter some thought. If you sometimes come across as less than confident, it’s not hard at all to fix that.