How to start a conversation about confidence with your team

Bit Famous works with businesses and organisations
to help them communicate with confidence.

By Penny Haslam

MD and Founder - Bit Famous

Penny Haslam
Impact, Influence and confidence for women at work

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How to start a conversation about confidence with your team. All too often, confidence is seen as a personal burden to bear, something you have to work out on your own. I believe we've got to get over this idea because confidence is actually a people problem that we can all work to resolve.

If confidence was a game of top trumps. It would trump happiness, performance, success and resilience. That's because once you and your team have confidence you know how to set about achieving those other things.

"Confident individuals create confident teams, you have happier organisations that can fulfil their purpose." - Penny Haslam

Confidence is crucial in all organisations, especially after a period of intense challenge or when we face new challenges and uncertainty. But bringing up the subject isn’t always easy in a workplace setting.

However, these informal questions aim to help start a conversation about confidence with your teams and colleagues, so you can better understand how people are feeling.

Ask: On a scale of one to ten, how confident are you feeling right now?

You could make it about a specific challenge they are facing at that moment, or a change that’s taking place and has the potential to be unsettling. Returning to the office, for example, or meeting new colleagues for the first time.

This is a great conversation opener. You might like to ask this in a group setting and reveal your own confidence score. This can help get the ball rolling conversation-wise.

Open-ended questions about confidence

You can also try an open-ended question about someone's experiences with confidence. Here are a few examples you could use to start the conversation:

  • What was a situation where you felt particularly confident?
  • Do you think confidence comes naturally to some people, or can it be developed?
  • What advice would you give to someone struggling with confidence?

Ask: Who’s on your supporters’ bus?

There are people in our lives who buoy us up or bring us down confidence-wise. The concept of a supporters bus is an odd question for non-sports teams, but this is about ensuring your staff has the right kind of supportive people around them when they need it most. A big event, a challenge or a change.

Those people could be family members, friends and close colleagues – as well as mentors and champions. When we need to ‘dig deep’ for greater resilience, the supporters’ bus idea is invaluable.

It’s a visual idea as well, so more easily remembered than a ‘who’s got your back’ kind of list.

The flip side of this is to enquire: who shouldn’t be on your bus – who’s a detractor or a toxic influence? Who undermines you when you least need it - can you kick them off the bus?

As we journey through life the people on our bus come and go. There have been times in my life, (for example when I was a new mum) that I felt rather alone on the top deck. Should members of your team feel a little thin on supporters, this concept will help you take action to rally colleagues to jump aboard!

Try my concept: Can you be a Yeti?

If you have the image of a Himalayan mythical creature in your mind's eye, apologies. My concept of being a Yeti is a powerful way to shift thinking on our personal potential.

It is simply the practice of adding the word ‘yet’ to the closed statements that tell us we can’t or don’t or won’t.

They are often applied to our attitudes, skills and knowledge. Typical examples include:

  • I don’t understand these new regulations.
  • I can’t find the time to eat more healthily.
  • I’m not able to share my ideas in meetings.

Now go back and add ‘yet’ after each of those statements and feel the difference. It changes everything. From a cul-de-sac to a straight road ahead. Watch people’s faces when the penny drops – it’s joyful!

And beyond ‘yet’ there are possibilities and useful actions to take that in turn, build confidence. For example:

  • I don’t understand these new regulations, yet… I’m going to have a chat with a couple of colleagues about them.
  • I'm no good at presenting in meetings, yet... But I'm going to find someone who can help.

I hope these suggestions help you get to start an honest and open conversation about confidence. Good luck.

Penny Haslam Podcast

It's in the Podcast: Be a Yeti

Episode 24: Penny Haslam Podcast - What's the point of your story?

Penny Haslam Podcast - Be a YETI. Open up a new world of possibilities by adding the word yet to closed statements. Be a YETI is part of Penny Haslam's Workplace Confidence Training. It's also in Penny Haslam's Confidence Keynote: