How Can Women Generate More Confidence?

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There are three senses of confidence, and all three of them define feelings about something.

They are:

  • trust, as in “I have complete confidence in my employee”
  • truth, as in “I am confident that the earth spins” and
  • self-esteem and a belief in the ability to succeed, as in “I am a confident person.”

This essay deals mostly with the last sense of the word. I want to talk about confidence because it’s an important business skill. Actually, it’s a necessary life skill too.

Women less confident than men

Also, studies show that women tend to have less confidence than men. One of the most impressive of these was conducted by University of California researcher Dr. Wiebke Bleidorn and six co-researchers. After interviewing 985,937 people from 48 different countries over a period of eight years, they showed that men express higher self-esteem than women and both men and women become more self-assured as they age. The results appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2015.

The eight-year study by Bleidorn her co-researchers analyzed data from over 985,000 men and women across 48 countries, from Norway to New Zealand, Kuwait to South Korea, asking them to rate the phrase: “I see myself as someone who has high self-esteem study found that across the board – regardless of culture or country, men have higher self-esteem than women.”

So: where does confidence come from; what influences it; and how can people become more confident?

Where does confidence come from?

Thanks to human behavioural tendencies towards imposters’ syndrome, self-doubt and procrastination, confidence is something that has to be continually regenerated.

All of these tendencies stem from a natural human behaviour of narrow framing.

Nobel-prize winner Daniel Kahneman says narrow framing is natural since people face problems one at a time, under circumstances in which the immediate consequences of the choice is so clear that other possibilities might be hidden. That means we make decisions from a more narrow perspective than might be rational. An impending deadline only feels urgent when it is only a week or even a day away. Then we realize that we can’t succeed as we hope to, and our confidence wanes.

What influences confidence?

The opinion of others can influence confidence, but so can other factors.

In 2018, a group of European scientists reported in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology how stress affects our degree of confidence. Here are their conclusions:

  • Stress generates competitive and economic inequality.
  • Competitive confidence is unaffected by trait anxiety under control conditions.
  • Stress makes low-anxiety individuals over-confident and high-anxious people under-confident.
  • Stress affects self-confidence under high-uncertainty conditions.

How can people become more confident?

Taking action, changing your body posture and setting and accomplishing goals all lead to confidence.

Frances Bridges summarizes ten ways to generate confidence in an article for Forbes:

  • get things done
  • monitor your progress
  • do the right thing
  • exercise
  • be fearless
  • stand up for yourself
  • follow through
  • think long term
  • care little about what others think
  • do more of what makes you happy

Peter Economy focusses more on mindset hacks in his Inc story:

  • make lists of goals and things you are grateful for
  • prepare
  • generate positive enthusiasm
  • change negative thoughts to positive ones
  • improve your posture

Economy also says: “You might have to fake it at first and merely appear to be self-confident, but eventually you will begin to feel the foundation of self-confidence grow within you.”

How I generate self-confidence

My own way of generating self-confidence can be summed up by five elements:

  • write down three things that I’m grateful for every day
  • keep enthusiastically making plans and following them
  • generate courage, which often looks like confidence
  • aim to fail until I succeed, so that trying again becomes routine
  • frequently adopt the Wonder Woman post (shoulders straight, head back, hands on hips)
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Tracey Arial

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Tracey Arial

Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.

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