September 16

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Quiet Confidence: How To Be Heard At Work

By Alison

September 16, 2020


In a world of increasing noise and chaos, it can be challenging for the professional woman to be heard and understood. But rather than trying to compete with all the mayhem, the authenticity of quiet confidence can be attention-grabbing.

Have you ever been in a meeting that became heated.  Where everyone was clamouring for attention?

  • Shouting
  • Talking over each other
  • Throwing chairs

Okay, I made the last one up.

But some of the meetings I’ve been in have become quite excited.  At one meeting, the manager announced a new initiative.  Everyone wanted in, seeing it as an opportunity to get involved in a high profile project. There was a lot of self-promotion going on that day as colleagues vied to put themselves forward.  All I got was a headache.

Unfortunately, it’s not just in meetings these things happen. Around us, every day is the unrelenting noise of people trying to grab attention.

  • Colleagues dominating the boss’s time
  • Employees loudly complaining of injustices they perceive have happened
  • Peers or even the boss, hearing your idea and passing it off as their own

In all this mayhem, it can be challenging to compete particularly if your style is quieter and more considered.

But the good news for professional women is you don’t have to join the crowd of loud self-proclaimers.  You don’t have to shout to be heard.  You can achieve results and be successful with resolve and quiet confidence.

What Is Quiet Confidence?

There’s a belief that he who shouts loudest, gets heard first. But, as I’ve discovered through my years in HR, this is not necessarily true.  People who parade like peacocks need to deliver with results.  No amount of bluster will achieve this if they don’t have substance to what they say and do.

There is a better way of being heard which allows for a little finesse.

Real confidence is a silent strength. It’s not screaming like a banshee, in danger of perforating the eardrums of those near and far. It’s subtle. Besides, many people who display loud confidence tend to hide a lot of insecurities.

So, for you, as a professional woman looking to make an impact at work, quiet confidence is your secret weapon. You'll be able to demonstrate more authenticity in your thoughts, words, and actions.

And remember, it’s our actions that get the results.

Quiet Confidence - Your Secret Weapon For Success

There are two ways to build your quiet confidence:

  • Internal Focus
  • Interaction With Others

So, kick off your heels, get comfortable and let’s get started.

Quiet confidence is peaceful

Kick off your heels and let's explore quiet confidence

Internal Focus

In What Is Confidence And Why You Need To Understand It I highlight that confidence begins with self-awareness and your mindset.

Self-awareness is to:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Accept yourself and,
  3. Value yourself

 Know Yourself

Self-knowledge helps you to understand your identity, which includes your:

  • Values
  • Interests
  • Temperament
  • Goals (also life purpose)
  • Skills - both strengths and weaknesses

When you’re aware of each facet and work in harmony with them, your authentic self will shine through.

You’ll have a clear and realistic understanding of what you’re really capable of doing.

Accept Yourself

Nobody is perfect. We all have our demons and fears when it comes to work and life for that matter.

When you accept yourself for who you are, warts and all, the pressure for being perfect reduces. With it, there’s less stress and anxiety.

As a result, you’re happier with yourself and open to the fact that at times you get things wrong, as everybody does.

Confidence is knowing when you’ve made a mistake and owning it. It’s hard to confess to doing something wrong. Often, we think this is a flaw in our character, but our mistakes are not who we are. They’re incidents that happen because of our actions. You’re human, and we all make mistakes.

In my experience honesty is the best policy. Putting your hands up and saying I did this ‘insert your heinous crime’ is usually worse in your own eyes than in those of others. The best way to deal with it is to confess and then state what your plan of action is moving forward or to correct the situation. You’ll gain a lot of respect as a result.

Value Yourself

When you value yourself, you’re acknowledging that you are worthy in your own right. You don’t feel the urge to compare yourself to others, and you don’t rely on external validation for your self-worth.

Moving away from the comparison game is liberating as you care less about what other people think and instead focus on what you feel about yourself. You understand that:

  • Your opinions matter
  • You believe you make a difference
  • You see yourself as an equal to others
  • You like yourself
  • You don’t settle for things that aren’t right for you.

I appreciate this isn’t easy. Many of us, myself included find it hard to like ourselves, especially when we don’t have strong confidence in ourselves. Having worked on my confidence, I now value myself a lot more. With confidence, your faith in yourself rises. And, when you have faith in yourself, others recognise it too.

Being self-aware builds a strong foundation for confidence.

Now you’ve learnt how you can be authentic and confident, let’s move on to how you can demonstrate this and show quiet confidence.

interaction at work helps build quiet confidence

Interaction With Others At Work

Your body language, interaction with other people, including what you say and how you listen all contribute to presenting yourself confidently without being showy. Quiet confidence is also about being open and seeking opportunities to grow and learn from others.

Body Language

There is a fantastic array of articles on the study of body language. It’s even got a posh word for it - kinesics.

According to some research, we consider nonverbal communication more than verbal communication. But take care.  Joe Navarro, wrote in his book ‘What Every Body Is Saying’, that reading body language, especially concerning deception, can be difficult. So, be aware of this.

I’m not an expert in body language, but there’s something to be said about how you stand that has an impact on the confidence you feel about yourself. Standing tall, with your hands by your side, tends to suggest that you’re relaxed and open to what other people say. Walking with your head held high rather than looking at the floor is another indicator of confidence. Although if you’re anything like me, there’s the possible danger of falling over something! So, head up, but not in the clouds!

Your body language is, therefore, quietly telling others about your level of confidence whilst giving you a boost at the same time.  Presenting an air of confidence means others will pay attention to you and listen to what you have to say.

Active Listening

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had people talk at me. You know the ones. They hardly draw breath as they go through a catalogue of their opinions, why they’re qualified to hold them and why others should listen to them. Oh, and have you also noticed that they always think they’re right? In my experience, there is little substance to what they’re saying.  And they are soon found out.

If you listen more than you talk, you’re demonstrating quiet confidence. You don’t have to convince others about your capabilities. You’re already comfortable with them. You listen so you can learn whilst encouraging others to explore their own thought processes. Active listening is a skill. It requires you to focus solely on what the other person is saying and clearing your mind of everything else. The words people use, the way they say something, even listening to what they’re not saying allows you to understand them better.

When you actively listen, you hear more.  You get to the root of the issue quicker and offer better solutions. Notably, the more you listen to others, in return they’ll want to listen to you.

Ask for help when building confidence

Ask For Help

Confident women aren’t afraid to be vulnerable. As you become more self-aware, you recognise your shortcomings and where you need additional help. Asking for help is a strength. It demonstrates a willingness to learn and grow.

It’s also an excellent way to create alliances in the workplace.

Give Praise

They say self-praise is no praise at all. Although in some situations such as job interviews you need to ignore this.

Quiet confidence doesn’t need a public acknowledgement. But that doesn’t mean you can’t praise other people. Giving praise is a great way to provide positive feedback. Taking the time to acknowledge individual contribution is essential. It builds trust.  And when you’re trusted people will listen to your point of view or seek out your ideas.

Avoid Gossip

Gossips - I bet even seeing the word already conjures up someone in your mind. Gossipers put other people down so they can feel superior.

When you’re quietly confident, you don’t need to compare yourself to other people. The only comparison to make is how you performed yesterday and how today you can be better.

I have a philosophy. If you’re not prepared to say something in front of the person you’re talking about, don’t say it at all. The best tester of this is, would you be mortified if the person in question was to overhear you? If yes, don’t say it.

A non-gossiper radiates trust.  They’re free from the influence of negative opinions that might be false.  You’re then able to make objective decisions.

the benefits of quiet confidence is working peacefully

Quiet confidence leaves you self-assured and successful

The Benefits Of Quiet Confidence

You don’t need to be loud to be heard. Quiet confidence allows you to stay true to yourself as you learn to become self-aware and take actions in line with your beliefs. You focus on yourself rather than trying to compare yourself to others. But there are also other benefits.

  • Builds Trust
  • Enhances Engagement
  • Reduces Stress

Your quiet confidence will build trust from those around you. People appreciate being listened to and praised when they do something well. Not associating yourself with gossip gives reassurance to those that seek you out for help or want your involvement in a project.

Seeking help when needed means you acknowledge you can learn from others and value their input. Asking for help builds trust but also enhances your networking ability and confidence.

As you continue your path of quiet confidence, letting your actions speak louder than any words could, your good reputation will grow. Your relationships with others will create bonds of trust and acceptance. Another benefit is that your stress levels will decrease.

Adopting these actions will lead to you feeling more content and confident.

As a result, you will:

  • move away from a world of increasing noise and chaos
  • Become a professional woman who is heard and understood
  • Be true to your values and beliefs and therefore genuinely authentic
  • Gain the attention you need to get work done leading, to your increased success.
kick off your heels and practice your confidence

Next Steps

Build a strong base of confidence by raising your self-awareness by doing the following:

  • Know yourself
  • Accept yourself
  • Value yourself

Then:

  • Pay attention to your body language
  • Practice active listening
  • Proactively seek help
  • Give praise
  • Avoid gossip.

Finally, you’ll find that you don’t have to join in the shouting.  You’ll remain professional.  You’re views and opinions will be sought out, and you’ll have a voice and respect in the workplace.

About the author

For years, despite career success, I was plagued with inner doubt. I worried about what other people thought. I became anxious about doing things wrong, felt out of my depth, and struggled with imposter syndrome. Above all, I feared failing. So, I worked long hours to prove myself worthy. It was exhausting, and it took a toll. My relationships suffered - my husband and I were becoming virtual strangers - and I had no social life. When the ravages of my doubts began to affect my health, I knew something had to change. I know there is a better way to live. Let me show you how.

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