There are times when we may find ourselves in situations where we question our abilities, skills or confidence levels. It could be that important sales meeting, a networking meeting or the opportunity to present to a room of people. The nagging doubts and anxieties creep in and it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the lack of confidence actually impacts on our performance!

So how can we gain control and boost our confidence by using the “Act As If” principle?

Some of it is about calming the negative self-talk, but that is the subject of a previous blog. One of the best ways though is to actually push ourselves to behave as if we are confident. Our physiology can actually impact on our mental state. So behaving as if we are confident will actually impact on our mind and performance.

This ‘Act As If’ principle derives from the father of Psychology, William James, from the late 1800s. It has also been taken up in a number of fascinating books by Richard Wiseman (UK Professor for the public understanding of psychology).

In a study carried out by Richard Wiseman, participants were split into different groups and the group that had been asked to smile for a few seconds each day came top in the study in terms of positive mood.

So certainly walking into any meeting or event with a smile and a strong posture will not only influence the people meeting you but it will influence yourself. In fact it has been found in a research study that participants asked to sit upright performed better on a maths test than those requested to slump in a chair!

In interview situations it has also been found that qualifications and experience have less impact than whether you simply come across as a “pleasant person”. So although you may question your skills, qualifications and experience, fronting this as a charming and personable individual will impact in your success in various scenarios. So even if you are very nervous, find a way to front it and engage people in conversation that will then enable you to build some rapport. Making some positive observations about the organisation you are visiting is certainly one way of doing this.

Also be mindful of the fact that we can overestimate the impact of making a mistake. This is a bias known as the spotlight effect, where we are far more aware of our mistakes than others. So if you make a mistake, keep focused on fronting it well and move forwards. In fact it has been found that making the occasional slip up can enhance your likeability and make you appear more human!

So it is crucial to act confidently even if you don’t feel it. Using affirmations (“I am going to nail this sales meeting”) or positive experiences (reflecting on previous similar occasions where you have achieved great results) can really help build this confidence.

One final thought on faking it until you make it is the concept of inevitability thinking or actions. As I mentioned recently, if you go around telling people you are going to do something or achieve something it puts you in a place where you have to do it. So if you are doubting yourself in some area, tell everyone what you are going to do and create a momentum and inevitability that you have to do it.

Sometimes this can give us the push to get going and once we are on a path, we like to see things through to closure. Initial activity can create an anxious brain that refuses to rest until the job is finished (this has been researched in some depth by a Russian psychologist called Zeigarnik and is known as the Zeigarnik effect)

So what area of your life and work do you need to fake it until you make it? 

If you would like to discuss how you can increase your confidence in business through 121 coaching or one of our groups, I am happy to have a 30 minute call to offer some initial free advice. Just drop me a line or give me a call on 07912143040.