Or are you more likely to stay quiet, say nothing and muddle through alone? You’re a hard-worker: you’ll figure it out eventually – right?
And what about those one-to-one conversations with your manager?
She’s been stuck in meetings all day, and now she’s finally got some time when you could ask her a question – but you don’t want to bother her… Or he’s been travelling all week, and you know he’s aching to get back to his pregnant wife…
As an Assistant, you know better than anyone what’s going on in your manager’s life. So, you’re much less likely than your colleagues to find it easy to “bother” them.
Maybe they already explained it – and since you didn’t ask for clarification then – you feel like it would look bad if you asked now.
Whatever the narrative inside your head, it’s probably something like this:
“I don’t want to bother them”.
“I don’t want to be a burden”.
“I don’t want to appear rude or stupid”.
In this blog post, we’re going to help you change that narrative inside your head and cultivate the confidence to speak up to share your genius.
Once you gain the self-confidence to unleash your Super-Powers to serve your manager and your colleagues – you’ll be so good you’ll knock their socks off!
We’re going to look at:
- The Brain Science of Self-Confidence: Everyone was born confident – it’s your birthright. Growing up, we naturally seek approval from parents, teachers, friends, and colleagues. When we feel like we’re not measuring up to a real or imagined standard, our supply of confidence can slip away drop by drop. When we understand the brain science of confidence, we can stop the leak and replenish our supply.
- A 3-Step Confidence Cultivation Framework you can implement straight away to cultivate confidence and speak up whenever the urge takes you.
- Some extra Resources in case you want to cultivate your confidence further.
You might be wondering why I’ve made it my mission to help people cultivate their confidence. Well, when I started out as a secretary in my early 20s, I was anything but confident. In fact, I suffered from a phobic condition called Erythrophobia, which kept me silent – and kept me stuck.
Erythrophobia is extreme fear and anxiety about blushing in public – and boy did I blush!!! It meant I avoided any situation where I might possibly blush job interviews, speaking up in meetings, one-to-one conversations with authority figures… My life was revolved around avoiding blushing and my career was going nowhere.
Then, I decided to go back to school and study Medicine. And there I learned a simple trick that would eventually help me self-cure my condition. Soon I was speaking up in meetings and sharing my thoughts, and my career, and my life finally took off.
Now, three decades and a managerial career in the Life Sciences industry later, I help 100% of the leadership pipeline, from personal assistants to CEOs, to overcome their own self-stopping strategies, so they can clear their inner hurdles and get the life and career they love.
So, if you’re more likely to stay quiet and suffer in silence rather than speak up and share your genius – this blog post is for you.
The Brain Science of Self-Confidence:
In evolutionary terms, the oldest part of your brain is the Brain Stem or Reptilian Brain – I like to call it your inner Lizard. Your Lizard has one mission in life: to avoid pain at all costs – even when that goes against your best interests.
When it comes to self-confidence, “safety” is about belonging and acceptance in a social group (in this case the social group is your meeting, your colleagues, or your manager). And “pain” (or lack of confidence) is about looking bad or being judged.
Your inner Lizard will use every trick at its disposal to avoid the risk, no matter how small, that you might look bad or be judged “below standard” – even if that means staying quiet when you’ve got something you want to say. It has 4 principal ways of protecting you: see which one you most resonate with:
- Fight: aggression, blame, frustration – directed against others or yourself. For example, when faced with an outspoken colleague we might think “She’s such a loudmouth! She should learn to pipe down and actually do some work”.
- Flight: avoidance – so you might pretend to have internet problems to avoid giving that update in your Teams Meeting. Often, our flight response manifests in socially celebrated behaviours like perfectionism, workaholism or busy-ness: for example, when invited to an after-work drink we might say “Oh I’d love to come, but I’ve just got too much work”)
- Fawn: internalising and associating with the problem. For example, when an unexpected problem arises, we might think “It’s my fault. I should have double-checked – even though it was Judy’s job to oversee the project”)
- Freeze: dissociation: not seeing it as your role, your problem, or your responsibility. When left un-checked this results in boredom and presenteeism (you’re at work – but you’re not really contributing).
The more our Lizard is allowed to “protect” us from what it sees as the threat of social shame, the more we develop the habit of making ourselves “invisible” and the more we lose confidence drop-by-drop.
So how can we help our inner Lizard feel safe enough to stop “protecting” us unnecessarily?
Well, the answer is simple (but that doesn’t mean it’s easy): who is the one person you can rely on to look after you and take care of your needs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the rest of your life?
Of course, it’s You!
When you can connect or re-connect with yourself and your inner Super Power, you create the kind of inner belonging and acceptance with Yourself so you radiate calm self-confidence, no matter who you’re talking to or how many people are listening!
So how do you find and connect to your Super Power?
This three-step Confidence Cultivation Framework will get you started:
3-Step Confidence Cultivation Framework:
- Step 1: Identify Your Super Power: Your Super Power comes so naturally to you that you probably take it for granted, and don’t even think of it as “super”. To find it, look for these three give-away clues:
- It gives you energy and you could do it all day.
- It comes naturally to you: you don’t have to try.
- It’s helpful for others – especially your boss.
- Step 2: Give before you Get: every conversation is a negotiation: whether it’s an idea or a request for help. And the number one rule of a successful negotiation is “win-win”. So, ask yourself how you can use your super power to “give” (make your manager’s life easier, faster, better, simpler, less stressful) before you make your ask. That way you can offer a “win-win”.
- Step 3: Make it Easy for them to say Yes: Your manager makes 100’s of decisions every day. That’s exhausting! So, when you ask a question, make it easy for them: frame the question in such a way that they can give you a yes/no answer. If that’s not possible, then do the thinking for them and present them with a pre-digested choice that includes just enough facts that they can make an informed decision without having to think too hard.
So next time you have something you want to say, help your inner lizard feel safe by connecting to your Super Power and following the 3-step Confidence Cultivation Framework – so you can speak up and share your genius.
Some extra Resources:
Here are some resources if you’d like to learn more about cultivating confidence and overcoming your internal self-stopping points:
- Join Blush2Bloom – my Group Coaching Program for chronic Blushers who want to cure their blushing and live a life of freedom.
About our guest writer Madeleine de Hauke
After self-curing her chronic blushing with a simple trick she learned in medical school, Madeleine went on to a 20+ year managerial career in the life sciences industry across three continents.
Since 2018 she has made it her mission to drive profitable business as a force for good by helping 100% of the leadership pipeline overcome their self-stopping strategies and unlock their potential so they and lead teams to excellence and expand their positive impact.
A two-time TEDx speaker, she is also known as “the meetings doctor” and has been featured in the Financial Times for her work helping organisations cure their “Meeting Syndrome” so leaders can free-up 5-10 extra hours a week to get work done and yes – imagine it: even think!