How Low Confidence Can Help You Become a Better Speaker
You’ve probably heard the idea that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. Confidence is the key to success.
But what if this isn’t true? Or vital to get ahead in life? So much research nowadays points to the fact that low confidence isn’t a bad thing. In fact, having low confidence can help you in a business environment – and can actually increase your chances of success.
And high confidence isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Think about someone you know who’s very confident – is there anything about that aspect of their personality that’s ever annoying or challenging?
Highly confident people often overestimate their abilities, they can become complacent or lazy, and they can get others offside by coming across as arrogant or unwilling to take to take on board other peoples’ ideas.
So how can low confidence help you become a better speaker? I often ask this question in my workshops, and there are two main answers that come up from the group. But first let’s take a quick look at what low confidence does to us.
What does low confidence do?
- It makes us anxious; and anxiety – in its simplest definition – is a signal that something needs attention. Anxiety is there to help us avoid risks and keep us safe. (Which is ideal if my anxiety is telling me to avoid anything which involves losing control of my feet, for example; ice skating or skiing are not my thing!).
So long as it’s not so far up the scale that it’s debilitating, anxiety isn’t a bad thing, and is useful to stop us taking unnecessary risks.
- Low confidence also leads us to question our competence. Also not necessarily a bad thing (so long as we don’t just stew in the negativity permanently and give up)
So we feel low in confidence, become anxious and worry about our competence. If we don’t care much about the area we’re focusing on, there’s not really an issue.
But what if you lack confidence in something you need or want to improve…like public speaking?
Here’s how low confidence can help you become a better speaker
Here are the two things my workshop groups commonly agree on. Low Confidence can help you:
- Internally: it drives you to improve your competence levels; to act and work on your skills
- Externally: to listen to others with openness and humility – and to ask for advice
Both of these factors are helpful to us, and attractive and appealing to other people. And we care about appealing to others a lot. It doesn’t matter how often somebody tells you that we shouldn’t care what other people think of us. This may well be true – but unfortunately it’s not how we’re wired. We do care.
In fact William James, commonly known as the father of modern psychology, once stated that the most basic, fundamental principle governing our behaviour is the universal craving for other people’s appreciation. We need other people’s approval to feel comfortable in the world.
When we feel lacking in confidence, we can use our insecurity to propel us forward – to drive us to make changes to improve our situation.
It can be a great tool to help us to change. Change = effort, doesn’t it? So using low confidence as leverage can be a highly effective tool.
To sum up: to be employable, successful and get ahead in the world, don’t worry if your confidence is low. Work on becoming competent and showing humility. If you do you’ll be seen as capable, likeable and easy to work with. And that’s going to take you a very long way.