Years ago I was interviewing radio presenters to be my co presenter for my show on LBC in London. Most of the people came to the interview with a ‘give me a chance’ attitude. We didn’t have the bandwidth to ‘give anyone a chance’ - we needed confidence. At the top of the interview we explained what the job was about, what we needed and why. Every person would then go into how the job was a match to what they were looking for. But only one person really listened to what we needed and then told us what we were looking for. He had the confidence not to sell himself, but to listen. That was BBC 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins. What we found out on the second interview, when I asked him why the nail on his middle finger was blue, was that he had trapped it in the door on the way to the first interview! He never mentioned the pain as he answered our needs effortlessly in the interview, while his finger slowly turned blue.
What Chris really gave us was professionalism and professionalism is a perception you create based on your standards. It’s a standard of service. Once you are clear on your standard of service, you can create a role that delivers that standard of service.
This ‘act as if’ technique comes from a creative idea of what you believe is correct service in that situation.
No matter how unconfident you feel about your own abilities, when you tune into what is needed in a given situation, you can elevate yourself above your fears.
So here is a list of tips to look confident in any situation in which you haven’t a clue what you’re doing!
1 - Listen to what is required - What is needed in this situation? What is lacking and how can you step into that role. Listen and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
2 - Always react from the best of yourself - Stress makes an ass of us all. If someone acts rudely towards you, decide they are unconscious of their actions. Even when you’re sure it was a deliberate undermining pop at you, react with the professionalism you see lacking in them.
3 - If you’re unsure ask questions, but never put yourself down or say sorry. Everyone is allowed a learning curve. If you embrace your lack of knowledge you won’t look like a numpty.
4 - Act from service first and freak out later. Be professional in the moment and make a deal with yourself to fully embrace your ‘OMG WTF’ later. When you do freak out, do it in an empty toilet with full body actions. Shaking is really good for you and a fantastic way of getting rid of pent up flight or fight stress.
5 - Don’t bond through bitching - Try really hard not to gain alliances by bitching about anyone else. It’s a great way to make friends with the wrong people. We build tribes to feel confident in numbers. But when you do this you’ll only ever be part of a herd and never been seen as a leader of the herd. You make yourself impossible to promote.
Confidence is over-rated; self-faith is greater. Confidence can be knocked, whereas self-faith isn’t about what you do, it is a deep belief in who you are. That comes from your standards of professionalism.