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Science-Backed Ways To Build Confidence When You Feel Like You’re Out Of Your League

Source | FastCompany : By STEPHANIE VOZZA

Whether you are interviewing for a job that feels beyond your current abilities, demonstrating a skill that feels rusty, or working with someone who is difficult and challenging, there are dozens of everyday challenges that can shake your confidence.

Some people suggest that you “fake it ‘til you make it,” but that’s bad advice, says Angie Morgan, cofounder of the leadership consulting firm Lead Star and coauthor of Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success. “Confidence isn’t a skill, it’s an emotion,” she says. “You can manage it. In fact, unpacking your confidence is a part of self-efficacy.”

Tapping into your source of confidence is important because it connects you to the goals you want to pursue. “Confident teams ask for more money,” says Morgan. “When you lack confidence, you put a lid on your potential.”

So how do you do it?


Our brains are hardwired to defend ourselves, says Morgan, and we often scan for worst-case scenarios or danger instead of looking at something as an opportunity. Instead, put a positive talk track in your head to get in the game.

“Our words run through our brains reckless and unchecked,” says Morgan. “Get rid of thoughts like, ‘I’m lucky to be here’ and ‘I hope I do well.’ Instead, say to yourself, ‘[Confidence] is a thing, and I can manage it.’”

Morgan recalls having a bout of insecurity before she was to take the stage and deliver a speech. “I went into a corner and had a Stuart Smalley moment, saying, ‘I’m good enough. I’m smart enough.’ It sounds cheesy, but it works.”

Research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that self-affirmations do indeed boost confidence. In an experiment conducted at the University of Toronto, half of the participants were instructed to write about their most important negotiating skill, while the remaining half were told to write about their least important negotiating skill. All of the participants were then tested on their negotiating skills. Those who completed the self-affirmation performed significantly better in negotiating a lower sale price.

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