This month The Magnificent Chameleon has been exploring the world of The Confidence Crusher and has some advice to share about how to vanquish this sneaky and all too common workplace villain.
What does The Confidence Crusher do?
The Confidence Crusher sneaks around, often under the radar as they work their way deep into people’s inner thoughts, causing them to doubt their own abilities. Once established in an organisations culture, confidence is undermined…in fact, it’s crushed, creativity is stifled, people stop speaking up and challenging each other and opportunities are missed as the appetite for risk taking evaporates. People’s energy and passion to try new things is replaced by feelings of anxiety and lowered expectations. Mediocrity rules and the organisation loses an incalculable amount of creativity, inspiration and drive.
How can you tell if The Confidence Crusher is active in your organisation?
One of the clear signs that The Confidence Crusher is at work in your organisation is when people stop trying new things ‘just in case’ they fail. Individuals start to doubt their own ability and as a result, they play safe and stop putting themselves in the way of great success, as they become fearful of dismal failure. Group consensus is easily achieved as people don’t speak up to share new ideas as this might result in ridicule, and decisions are weakened by a lack of input. There are covert attempts by some working in league with The Confidence Crusher to suffocate any ideas that carry a degree of risk, change or discomfort within their area of responsibility. The status quo is maintained and progress is limited. The focus swings from what has gone right to what has gone wrong. Stagnation becomes a real danger.
Here’s what you’ll see and hear:
It seems that nothing is ever good enough
“If you can’t do it properly then I suppose I’ll have to do it myself!”
Ideas are shot down in flames before they’ve been really listened to or debated.
“You don’t really understand what’s going on around here do you”
People’s contributions are ridiculed publicly.
“Is that the best you can come up with? That’s a rubbish idea!”
The past is used as evidence of why things won’t work now.
“We tried it before and it didn’t work then so why should it work now”
And then there’s the ‘inner critic’ to contend with too!
The Confidence Crusher doesn’t even have to be with you to affect you. If you allow them in, they can often ensnare you by turning your own thoughts against you and fuelling your ‘inner critic’ to get to work on sabotaging your confidence. You’ll hear similar comments to the ones above, but they might well be said in a far nastier tone when they are inside your head and they can be relentless.
The ‘inner critic’ bombards you with questions like ‘are you sure that you can do it?’ and ‘what happens when it all goes wrong’. It tells you that “You’re always making silly mistakes,” “You’re not good enough,” “Sooner or later someone is going to find you out!” It also is adept at glossing over anything that’s good, and uses past evidence and examples to undermine your confidence and remind you what went wrong in the past, and just how massively you failed.
Once you’ve identified The Confidence Crusher is at large, how do you stop their destructive and villainous ways?
Here are 7 tactics you could try……
1. Action is the enemy of The Confidence Crusher. Rather that wonder how things might work and worry about the possible negative outcomes, create a clear objective and a robust plan and get going. Pause regularly to review your process with others, examine the evidence, face up to challenges head on and celebrate successes.
2. Nurture a business culture that encourages people to listen and ask questions first, rather than dismiss new thoughts, ideas or possibilities before they have had time to flourish. Seek to understand before coming to any kind of judgement.
3. Positively build confidence. Offer regular balanced feedback to build resilience and counteract the influence of The Confidence Crusher. Encourage individuals to venture into their stretch zone, and let them try new things without there being negative consequences for their bravery.
4. Foster a supportive environment where making mistakes is recognised as an essential part of discovery and development and where active experimentation is encouraged. So that things don’t go completely of the rails, establish boundaries at the start; think of it as a controlled explosion!
5. Share good news stories that help people in the organisation to clearly see how the risks associated with trying new things, with innovation and with change are often outweighed by the results that are gained.
6. Find time to recognise individual and team successes and actively celebrate them. Use this to reinforce the benefits and positive outcomes that can be achieved by trying new things, pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.
7. Actively manage your own ‘inner critic’. Recognise when it is trying to get a hold of you then do something to change the potential impact that it has. Pay attention to the sound of your ‘inner critic’ and notice its characteristics. As it’s in your head you have the power to completely change those characteristics, so would it have the same credibility and influence over you if it sounded like Tweety Pie. Try it! How much notice do you take of it now?
What do you do to keep The Confidence Crusher at bay?
We’d love you to share your experiences and join in the conversation by hopping over to our Pants People Group on Linked In; we’re talking about The Procrastinator next. We’d love you to work with us to help organisations banish these villains once and for all……go on, grab your mask and cape and be a superhero!