Dana Theus is aconsultant and founder of InPower Women. We recently spoke to her about how administrative professionals can develop their confidence and leadership skills to drive change at work.
Why is projecting confidence at work important?
Projecting confidence is much less important than being confident. The distinction is that when you are confident, you project naturally, authentically and easily. The more you work at projecting something you don’t feel, the more you risk coming across as inauthentic. People don’t trust those who are inauthentic, and in any kind of assistant role, trust is your most important asset. All that said, sometimes a little “faking it until you make it” can help you get started.
What advice do you have for an administrative assistant who’d like to develop and project more confidence at work?
So, here’s how you can fake it “a little” to begin to develop more confidence. I call this The Silence Trick.
You know that little voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough? It’s one of the biggest reasons we don’t project confidence.
The “trick” is to simply not give it voice. You see, when we let it speak through our voice and say things like “well, I may not be the expert, but ....” before we put an idea out there, it telegraphs to everyone around us that we’re not the expert.
The fact is that until we say that, most people aren’t really thinking much about our expertise at all. When we tell them we’re not the expert, they now have a reason to take us less seriously.
So the trick is simply not to voice those words. It can feel inauthentic, however, because often this is how we feel about ourselves. But try—for just a day—to say those words silently, in your head, before you put your idea out there.
Watch closely how other people respond. Even if you don’t feel like the expert, when you speak without apology, they take you more seriously.
What are your favorite resources for developing these skills?
First, find mentors in the office. Notice who you think does a goodthe things you want to learn and then just ask them if they’ll mentor you.
They may ask what that means, and you can tell them that you simply would like them to observe you in action and periodically give you feedback on what you’re doing well and areas they see that you can improve.
Second, be self-reflective. Keep a little journal at your desk and notice when you do something really well or less well than you’d like. Jot it down and then later, over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, think back on what happened.
When things went well, notice why. What did you do that made it work?
Jot a note or draw a picture and it will help you remember to do that again in the future.
When we reflect—and share those reflections with ourselves and others we trust in a focused way—we can unlearn years of habitual response that keeps us from becoming who we are meant to be.
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