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Why Self-Confidence Should Be Your Biggest Goal This Year

Why Self-Confidence Should Be Your Biggest Goal This Year

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with a new client at a coffee house that just opened up in her town. It was so new that the paint still had that fresh smell and the equipment didn’t have the patina of being used for countless cups of coffee. While we waited for 30 minutes for our coffees to come out I watched the staff seem unsure of what to do next, the owners hunched over and yelling at delivery vendors and their staff, and customers unclear of what they should be doing while the chaos was flinging around the cafe.

It was obvious, 5 minutes in, that the owners had never run a coffee shop before and they didn’t know what they were doing. They weren’t communicating and they weren’t delegating. Everyone seemed to be walking on eggshells and nothing except a whirlwind was happening.

I wasn’t there to observe them, but it made a great entry way into talking to my client, who can often feel less confident in her own work and life. She has all the skills she needs to make a huge impact, but she shrinks into a small shell when asked about her product. Instead of running in chaos like the owners of the cafe, she is completely frozen.

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Both things happen when you lack self-confidence. You either hold everything too tight because you are afraid to let people know that you aren’t sure of what you are doing, or you don’t do anything. Lack of self confidence hurts communication, personal and professional growth, and forward action.

Why Should I Build My Self Confidence?

People listen to other people who exude confidence. If you are unsure, trust me, your team is unsure. Now is the time to find that inner strength and write yourself a new story. You are valuable, creative and interesting. You carry all of the possibilities inside of you, but you need to practice letting that shine.

The owners of that coffee house weren’t confident running their business. They didn’t know how to communicate their needs to their employees or their vendors. No one knew what to do. Yesterday I drove by and they had closed after being open just 4 months. I’m not really surprised, but I am sad. If they had felt more confident and shared that leadership with their team, they might have made it.

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When your self confidence shines bright you can lead teams of any size because they trust you to be clear about what is happening. Of all the life skills needed, it is more important than your college degree, skills or experiences. You can’t lead without self-confidence, even if you are only leading yourself. Lacking self confidence closes you up to criticism, thoughtful decision making, communication and getting people to trust your leadership. Without self-confidence you can’t move forward in life or in business.

This is year to change all of that and take some real steps towards feeling more confident.

Stand with Confidence.

Changing your posture can make a huge difference in your self esteem. Standing tall, head up and shoulders back (but not ridged) allows your full stature to fill your space. People will interact differently with you when you are standing strong and tall; even if you aren’t feeling it, they will believe you have more confidence.

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Make Eye Contact

People feel more connected when we look into their eyes. They listen to our words more. You can practice by looking into your own eyes in the mirror. Doing this while you brush your teeth will get you in the habit of eye contact with others.

Practice Telling Your Story

We aren’t born business people, we don’t all exude confidence, and we may not be great at clearly articulating our goals, directions, hopes and needs. Practice when you are alone what you are going to say at your next meeting, with your boss, or with your employees. You don’t have to memorize a speech, but you do want to feel calm telling them what needs to be said.

Speak Up

Even though it might make you feel incredibly uncomfortable, speak up for yourself. No one will know your brilliant idea, understand your dreams or be able to help you if you don’t speak up when you have the opportunity. It is important to know that most people are at least a little shy or uncomfortable speaking up too and will, mostly, listen when you do speak up.

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Practicing these small steps can help break through that feeling of being too scared or too shy. Don’t let another year go without making strides towards your own self confidence; you have too much to offer.

Featured photo credit: Son of Groucho via Photopin

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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