Sit back, relax and enjoy our latest articles...

Sit back, relax and enjoy our latest articles…
Confidence blog

Why We Need to Rethink Criticising Women for ‘Lacking Confidence’

In the realm of corporate career advancement, women often find themselves lagging behind their male counterparts. Among the various explanations offered for this phenomenon, one frequently cited reason is the supposed lack of confidence among women.

In my 15 years of coaching senior women, I’ve encountered numerous instances where women have been criticised for actions that were perceived as indicative of their lack of confidence. However, offering such feedback without providing clear guidance on how to enhance confidence is not only unproductive but also counterproductive. And on the rare occasion advice is given, it often misses the mark, exacerbating feelings of inadequacy. 

I’ve attended countless women’s business conferences where speakers shared tips on boosting confidence. Despite this, there’s still confusion surrounding where women are supposedly faltering. Consequently, many women internalise the belief that they indeed lack confidence.

However, a recent poll we conducted with over 1000 women revealed a different reality. When asked to rate their job performance on a scale of 1 to 10, 22% rated themselves a 9 or 10, while 64% rated themselves a 7 or 8. This means that a staggering 86% of respondents considered themselves very good or excellent at their jobs.

So, where does this notion of women lacking confidence stem from?

The answer lies in perception rather than reality. Despite the prevailing perception, the majority of women actually possess confidence in their abilities. Instead of simply prescribing confidence training for women, which may lead them astray, a more effective approach would be strategies on how to address and manage this misperception.

Given many argue that communication lies at the heart of most business challenges, what steps can we take to improve the way we communicate to instil confidence in our abilities?

  1. Be proactive – our brains are wired to anticipate the worst when left in the dark, often leading us to assume the worst-case scenarios. The adage “no news is good news” doesn’t always hold true; instead, in most cases, silence breeds concern. By taking a proactive approach and keeping others informed, we can mitigate this tendency and foster a sense of reassurance.
  2. Be clear – Clarity in communication is essential for instilling confidence. Ambiguity and vagueness can breed uncertainty and doubt. Therefore, strive to articulate your ideas, instructions, and expectations in a concise and straightforward manner. Use simple language, avoid unnecessary jargon, and provide specific details to ensure that your message is easily understood and interpreted accurately. When individuals have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, they are more likely to feel confident in their ability to fulfil their responsibilities effectively.
  3. Be concise – In addition to clarity, brevity is also key to effective communication. Long-winded explanations can overwhelm and confuse listeners, detracting from the clarity of your message. Aim to convey your ideas concisely and efficiently, focusing on the essential information without unnecessary details. By keeping your communication succinct and to the point, you not only ensure that your message is easily digestible but also demonstrate respect for your audience’s time and attention. Concise communication allows for greater clarity and comprehension, thereby enhancing confidence in your abilities.

In essence, by prioritising proactive, transparent, clear, and concise communication practices, we can cultivate an environment where confidence thrives, ultimately driving success in business endeavours. So, let’s rewrite the script: instead of criticising women for ‘lacking confidence’, let’s empower them with the tools and perceptions they need to shine brightly in their careers. It’s time to embrace a new narrative – one where confidence is recognised and celebrated in all its forms.

If this resonates with you, have a look at our upcoming sessions to see how we can help to unlock – and elevate – the potential in your workplaces.

Come and join the conversation over on LinkedIn to be kept up to date with the latest news!