Kellogg Insight recently featured some very useful advice on how to project self-confidence in the workplace by Ellen Taaffe, Clinical Assistant Professor of Leadership and Director of Women's Leadership Programs at the Kellogg School of Management. Her focus on the language people use is very constructive. Here's an excerpt:
On a day-to-day level, Taaffe says, you can project self-confidence by recognizing and minimizing how often you use qualifying language.
“I was recently on a call where a more junior person was sharing some good work that she had developed,” Taaffe says. “As she shared her recommendation, no one was responding. She started to speed up, audibly losing confidence before asking ‘Am I making any sense?’ I thought, Ugh. The pressure, when one is intimidated or doubting themselves, is real. It is easy to get rattled and diminish our contributions and confidence with how we communicate.”
Taaffe recommends avoiding rhetorical questions or opening qualifiers, because every “Does that make sense?” or “This may be a bad idea but…” signals doubt and indicates to listeners that the statement is less worthy of consideration. Instead, confirm that your audience is following along using far more confident-sounding open-ended questions, such as “What are your thoughts?” or “What questions do you have?” Taaffe also advises couching your idea in a brainstorming frame such as “What could we learn if we did…?” This has the added benefit of starting a dialogue that engages others and asks them to contribute.
Afterwards, check in with mentors and colleagues for advice about the ways your performance can continue to adjust and adapt.“