Why your Confidence needs to match your competence

Why your Confidence needs to match your competence

Even if you produce amazing results at your job or in other areas of your life, others may still not see you as being competent if you lack the confidence to back it up. If you are good at your job, exuding confidence will ensure others also recognize your competence in your area of expertise. And research backs this up.

  • Get feedback

Find someone you trust who can give you straightforward feedback about how you come across to others. (Perhaps a trusted work colleague or personal acquaintance that isn’t so close to you that they’ll hold back with their critique). Ask them to provide both positive feedback and make suggestions for how you can improve the way you convey confidence. For example, you might subconsciously rub the back of your neck when you’re explaining something, which could give off an air of doubt. Having someone point this out so you can stop doing this will be helpful.

  • Memorize some key information

The best way to convey competence is to be competent in something. Make sure you know as much as you can about the subject or job that you want to be seen as competent in. One way to make sure you not only know your subject, but can also speak confidently about it is to memorize some explanations that you have to give often or answers to questions you hear often (a sort of FAQ list in your mind).

Memorizing some boilerplate answers to some basic questions that you can rattle off almost without thinking will help you exude confidence because your answers won’t be filled with “ums” and “uhs” as you search for words. It’s like having a script in your mind that you can immediately call up when asked an FAQ about your area of expertise.

  • Use your successes

Retired professor of counseling at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley Meg Selig, has developed the “Small Successes Method” where you keep an updated list of three successes that you can be proud of having accomplished. They can be as big or small as you like. When your boss or a colleague asks you what’s new, you’ll have a ready answer instead of falling back on “nothing” or “not much” as we so often do when people ask us what is new or what’s going on. Having a ready answer to highlight a success will give you confidence boost. 

To sum up, the most important aspect of conveying competence is to actually be competent in your area of expertise and you shouldn’t try to “fake it until you make it.” If you are completely confident with your skills and experience, but others still have trouble seeing you as competent, try these four tips to help you exude more confidence, which will get people to see you as competent in your position. 

  •  Experiment with body language

There has been much research about so-called “power poses” and various other body language that can help you convey confidence. Whether or not it’s true is a matter of discussion, but there are some basics you can rely on, like keeping good posture, keeping your hands in front of you, keeping hand movements to a minimum and maintaining some eye contact with the people you’re talking to.

If you’re absolutely sure about something you’re saying, then state it with an even tone of voice rather than allowing your voice to rise at the end, which will make it seem more like a question. Do some experimenting with your body language and tone of voice and see what works best for you.


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