Updated: Feb 10, 2022
You are sitting in work meetings, hearing others share their ideas and think to yourself “I wish I could have courage to share so freely. That I could say something that really adds value to the discussion. But what if I say something that makes no sense and others will think that I am stupid? What if I will not be able to defend my idea afterwards? What if I get challenged? Should I rather not say anything?”
This internal dialog can take its toll on your presence, state of mind and in the end how much you speak up at work. The moment you start believing this inner voice that constantly doubts and questions you, the chances of you speaking up shrink radically. Why? Because this inner voice feeds the doubt, worry and fear you already have and it makes it look bigger and more real. And when people feel very very scared, they tend to ‘run’.
HOW TO GET OUT?
I know you want to make yourself heard. You want to add value. And you want to be recognized for the contributions you make. You might be thinking that in order for you to speak up more at work, you need to feel more confident and sure of what you want to say.
I am here to tell you that it is exactly the other way around. You first need to start speaking up and then your confidence will grow.
If speaking up in meetings and sharing ideas is too scary for you right now, you need to start with 'less' uncomfortable situations to build courage. Start to climb up the ladder of your comfort zone, leading you more and more out of it. For all that you want, lies outside your comfort zone.
To make it practical for you, so you can start implementing it right away, I want to share the following few steps:
Step 1: On a scale 1 - 10 (1 not being scary at all and 10 being so scary that you cannot even imagine yourself doing it), think of a few situations that would be at levels 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 'scariness level’. Write them down.
To give you some ideas, it could be things, like asking a stranger on a street what time it is, asking for help in a supermarket, eating alone in a restaurant, saying hi to a stranger, giving work presentations, singing while walking on a busy street, sharing your ideas in front of your team. Or anything else that comes to your mind.
Step 2: Pick something that is on a level 3 or 4. It should be slightly scary but still stretching you enough to feel uncomfortable when you think of doing it. Got it?
Step 3: You may have been waiting for this :) You are right, now is the time to do it. Oh yes! Go out there and start practicing your ‘scary scenario’. Don’t do it just once. Repeat it in different settings and with different people until it feels not a big deal anymore. The point her is not needing to know the time 5 times a day from different people, it's about the practice of putting yourself into discomfort and knowing that you will be fine. As you master each level and feel your comfort growing, move up to the next 'scary thing' on your list.
Confidence is a skill that you can learn. It's like growing muscles at the gym. You don’t go there once a month and end up looking lean. No. You need to exercise on a regular basis in order to see results. And guess what? Once you have achieved your ‘ideal body image’ you don’t stop either. You continue to maintain it.
It’s the same with your confidence muscle. You have got to continue putting yourself out there and stretch yourself out of your comfort zone, step by step to grow and maintain it.
You have got this! Let me know how your practice goes. I would love to hear from you!