One Key Way to Demonstrate Confidence
In the face of crisis, you cannot stay calm without confidence.
You can be apathetic. That’s nihilism, not calmness. That’s doubtfulness and uncertainty that leads to giving up—the complete opposite of confidence. True confidence stays intensely focused, constructive, and powerful during difficulty. It looks and feels like calm assurance.
When you lose your cool, it’s because you feel threatened. Sometimes losing your cool is masked as “THIS IS IMPORTANT” or “I AM IMPORTANT.” Feeling threatened can show up as pressure, desperation, bullying, or intimidation. But at its core, freaking out is a sign that you feel you’re out of options and may be facing defeat. You’re backed into a corner and thrashing.
When you have a situation firmly in hand, you don’t freak out. You just deal. This is why calmness communicates confidence. Your demeanor is proof that you believe in your ability to handle the problem. You have confidence: confidence in yourself, confidence in others, confidence in the outcome.
When you’re full of turbulence, you send the opposite message: I can’t handle this! You can’t either! We’re all gonna die!!!
If you want to be a leader – of a company, a department, or your own life – learn to nip the “freak out” response in the bud. Here’s how:
Start with yourself. When you find yourself breaking down, lead yourself up out of the abyss:
- Take a deep breath. Get oxygen to your brain and body. You need oxygen to think and move.
- Feel your feet. Feel your connection to the ground beneath you. Take stock of that physical support.
- Stand (or sit) up tall. Take up space. Expand your physical presence. This gets your blood flowing and triggers your body to release chemicals of confidence.
- Let go of the swirling negative thoughts and dire predictions. Those catapult you into the darkest version of the future. Stay here, now. Focus on the reality of THIS moment.
- Remind yourself of your resources: your experience, your skills, your talents, your training, your community, your relationships, your body, your energy, your creativity, your intelligence, your magnificent brain.
- Trust yourself and your resources.
- Step forward.
No one will trust or follow someone who can’t handle a crisis (especially if it’s perceived as a minor one). If you fall apart in the face of conflict, strong emotions, mishaps, change, or stress, what kind of leader are you? Be a leader that inspires others to move forward with boldness. To do that, manage your own reactions. Staying calm demonstrates control and power—over yourself. If you can control yourself, you have enormous power: power to choose, power to think, power to influence, power to create change.
You cannot be calm without confidence. But happily, the act of calming your brain and body will not only make you look more confident to others, but it will help you access the confidence you already have. When you interrupt the “freak out” sequence, that in itself reminds your brain that you have more power and control than you realize.
Calmness and confidence create a spiral. You can ride the spiral downward in ever-increasing levels of panic, despair, and paralysis. Or you can spiral upward. As you learn to stay calm, your confidence grows. As your confidence grows, it’s easier to stay calm…
Demonstrate leadership skills by first taking charge of your thoughts and body language. Lead yourself to a place of calm confidence. It’s only from there that you can lead others.