How To Overcome Your Confidence Barriers

What Is Confidence?

Confidence, is when you have full trust in yourself. When you’re totally at peace with who you are, at every moment and you make no apologies for being awkward, nervous, loud or soft spoken… you’re just you, because whether or not someone tells you that you’re doing a great job, you know that you have the ability to “handle it”. A confident person has unconditional faith in their ability to handle a situation whereas, a person lacking confidence, will not doubt their abilities and typically actions tasks, with increased anxiety due to their self-doubting beliefs.

Its almost unbelievable to think that you limit yourself by your thoughts but it’s true so, heres how to stop it.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the Ernest L. Arbuckle professor of business at Harvard Business School and also the director and chair of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative. In her recent research she identified the 8 key barriers to confidence.

1.Self defeating assumptions

You think you can’t, so you don’t. You think you’re a terrible dancer, so you watch your friends have fun shaking their bodies, whilst you sit out, awkwardly. You think you’ll never get a promotion so you plan on leaving your job, or quitting. Don’t try to protect yourself from failure or embarrassment, it’s far worse to never try.

2. Goals that are too big or distant

Having enormous goals, can undermine confidence. The gap between a giant goal and today’s reality can be demotivating. Confidence really comes from the small wins, the kind that occur often and repeatedly. So, try to line yourself up for the small wins by breaking down your goals into steps and focus on one at a time.

3. Declaring victory too soon

Confidence, comes from discipline, not from reaching your first milestone and thinking you’ve mastered it.

4. Going alone

To properly build your confidence you need to foster a culture of confidence. Build confidence in those around you. Make wanting to succeed a natural part of your life.

5. Blaming someone else

Confidence rests on taking responsibility for one’s own behaviour. Whining or making excuses as to why you can’t perform as well as others reduces confidence for future performances. And you’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

6. Defensiveness

It’s one thing to listen and respond to criticism. It’s another to answer someone before they’ve said anything. Apologize for mistakes but don’t apologise for who or what you are. Instead take pride in where you’ve come from and lead with your unique strengths.

7. Lack of thorough analysis

Being realistic means considering the possible setbacks, towards your goals. Don’t let your confidence become knocked by a struggle you’ve failed to think about. Preparation for how your going to climb the mountain is key, don’t attempt to freestyle it.

8. Over-confidence

Harvard Business Review define confidence as the sweet spot between arrogance and despair and I couldn’t agree more. In my view, arrogance comes from laziness, when you feel that you can start cutting corners, doing less work and make new decisions based on past success without thinking it through. Arrogance leads to ignorance of the critics, thinking you know better when you don’t, just think of the global crisis. A little humility goes a long way to keep yourself in place.

Remember, confidence isn’t a feeling, it’s the expectation of success but the knowledge that to be successful handwork and setbacks are likely.


How to learn a language in record time

Why You Should Learn a Language

Culture influences how people interact with each other. In the business world, culture guides decision-making, behavior, thinking patterns and values. For some cultures, human connection, is more important than business credentials. The best way to fully immerse yourself in a new country and meaningfully connect with the people you meet, is to learn the language of the land.

How to Learn a Language, Fast.

Many of us simply don’t have the time to pick up a new language by intense studying so, here are some tips on picking up the basics in record time;

1.Apply the Pareto Principle

You absolutely do not need to learn all of the words of a language to speak it. If you apply the Pareto principle to vocabulary, 20% of the effort you spend on acquiring new words can give you 80% comprehension.

I recommend using the Anki app where you can make customised flashcards based on the things you are most likely to talk about. All that’s required here is a strategic approach to decide what you want to speak to people about in their native tongue and then practice, practice, practice.

2. Learn Cognates

“Cognates” are true friends of words from your native language that means the same thing in another language. England’s historic attempts to colonise most of the world, means there are numerous languages that share common words with the English language, a simple Google of these shared words can tremendously boost your vocabulary.

3. Use Mneomics

There is nothing more frustrating than forgetting a word you’ve practiced dozens of times. To prevent this memory block associate the word with a memorable or funny story. This method really works, you’ll need to recall the story only a few times before the word becomes a natural part of your ability to use the language quickly.

4. Have S.M.A.R.T goals

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. What are you aiming for? And when do you want to do this by?

5. The Best Resources are Free

There is great stuff available for free online. You do not need to pay to learn a language.

A wonderful and completely free course that keeps getting better is DuoLingo – which I highly recommend for its selection of European languages currently on offer, with more on the way.

Other (good) alternatives include:

Hopefully, this helps you to learn a new language in record time! For more tips read this useful blog post by Tim Ferriss.


How to silence your inner critic, once and for all

We all have an inner voice. The inner dialogue, that narrates our life. The one that motivates us to be stronger, warns us of danger and corrects us when we make mistakes. It appears to have our best interests at heart however, without regular appraisals, our inner narrator can become destructive. It can be particularly nasty in times of high stress, casting clouds of doubt over our hard-earned confidence. If you fail to regulate your inner voice, it’s limiting advice can persuade you to turn down golden opportunities. Don’t let your inner voice do this to you.

How to know if your inner voice has become an inner critic

Is it causing you excessive stress, depression or anxiety? Is it causing you to procrastinate or avoid tasks, entirely? If you answered yes to any of these questions than your inner voice has become a problem.

How to shut your inner critic down

1.Listen to the voice

What exactly is it saying? Too many people try to run away from, or ignore their inner critic, when they should be exploring that contrarian voice, says Stacey Sargent, founder of Seattle, Washington-based Connect Growth and Development, and author of Inner Critic, Inner Success: Claiming Your Critic While Taming Your Success.

If it’s telling you to not apply for a role, because you don’t have the requisite qualifications, than it could be saving your credibility, or, more typically, if you have the correct qualifications, than it’s a deeper issue of self doubt, which must be explored and resolved.

Once you get to the reason behind the criticism, you can deal with the underlying concern and stop it, once and for all.

2. Look at the precedence

Your inner critique is usually supported by anxiety, not evidence. Instead of listening to it’s concerns about why you’ll fail your new project, look at your string of past accomplishments (the hard evidence), telling you the contrary.

3.Be compassionate

How can we expect to be perfect, all the time? If you’re berating yourself for messing up a presentation, instead, be compassionate. Think about how you would counsel someone close to you about such a misshap. You’d probably have empathy for the person, because we’ve all been there before. Talk to yourself with the same compassion you’d have for someone close to you.

4.Be mindful

Last but certainly not least, be mindful of how you speak to yourself. Make an effort to really scrutinse your inner dialogue, especially in times of high stress, as this is when your inner voice is most likely to spiral out of control. Remember you shouldn’t be making life harder for yourself. In times of high pressure you deserve kindness and support, so ensure that your voice is fulfilling your needs.


Why Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone Should Be Your New Habit

We are creatures of habit. We order the same coffee, at the same coffee shops, workout and get hungry, around the same time every day. When is the last time you purposefully, took yourself outside of your comfort zone? When is the last time you grappled with a new challenge and remember fear and excitement pumping through you, simultaneously? Some people dislike changing their routine but for entrepreneurs, playing it safe, is risky.

Why We Should Step Beyond Our Comfort Zone

Dr Elizabeth Lombardo, therapist and author of Better Than Perfect found, that people who regularly step outside of their comfort zones are more emotionally resilient and creative, than those who remain in a familiar routine. This means that entrepreneurs regularly pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, hold a cognitive advantage over those who don’t.

Emotional Resilience and Comfort Zone

It’s not difficult, to see how you can increase your emotional resilience, with regular comfort zone challenges. Success is a moving target. As you become more successful, your goals grow too. The more you challenge yourself with new experiences, the greater your comfort zone becomes, meaning what was once scary, becomes your norm. You are increasing the amount of things you can handle and as such, propel your development both personally and professionally.

Creativity and Comfort Zone

Lombardo’s second point, about creativity being enhanced with fresh experiences is less obvious. However, the best ideas are often right under our noses we just need a different perspective to see them. Trying new experiences allows us to see things in a new way. Another reason that creativity is so lured after in the business world, is because it’s wholly conducive to innovation. Innovation is the business word of the century. It’s dobbed as the golden ticket to business success. However, it’s often an elusive object of many CEO’s/MD’s desires. Why? What holds most of us back from stepping out of our comfort zones, is fear. “We have such a huge fear of failure in our society,” explains Lombardo. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is the key to overcoming this fear and injecting innovation into our businesses.

How To Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone 

1) Make it your new habit

In order to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, you need to step out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. Remember we are creatures of habit, the more comfortable you get with trying new things, the less difficult it will feel and the more you’re going to say yes to new challenges.

2) Start small

Try taking small steps, like driving a different route to work, trying different food for lunch or even moving your desk to a different spot. This can help you, to get comfortable, with being uncomfortable.

3) Reframe your fear

In order to overcome your fear of trying something new, Lombardo recommends, re-framing those feelings of fear, with positive feelings of excitement and opportunity. Those butterflies in your stomach will soon be seen as welcoming, rather than something that you seek to avoid.

4)Look for a challenge

When you take on something challenging, you experience an endorphin rush and often feel recharged afterwards. It’s like intensive exercise, after a little while, you’ll crave the endorphin rush and seek out new challenges.

5) Focus on the why

Having a mission statement of why you’re stepping out of your comfort zone can help you overcome the fear of doing it. Lombardo recommends writing out reasons for doing the activity, such as, “to build independance” or ” to increase creativity”. Reiterating the why, when you feel stressed out, completing a new task, can bring down your stress levels and make it easier to accomplish.

How to find your purpose

As human beings we desire a sense of purpose. We suffer serious phycological difficulties when we don’t have it. People with purpose lead more happier, more fulfilling lives.  All of that said, purpose is one of the most elusive objects of our desire. Many of us spend our entire life trying to find our purpose, whilst some are lucky enough to discover their life’s work, very early on. I remember my best friend telling me when we were around eights years old that she was going to spend her life helping animals, specifically “doggies”. She followed her dream and today she is a vet. I am unsure whether she did specialise in dogs. But, for the rest of us, who are not so lucky, it’s a bit of guessing game, a touch and go, until we finally find something that feels right.

How to search for purpose

Google it. Just kidding. Many of us wouldn’t even have a key word to search for. The purpose pursuit can be a bewildering excerise, however here are a few tips to help narrow your search and hopefully make it more efficient;

  1. Take a sabbatical

Just please, find the courage, to leave the track that you’ve been on if you are finding it unfulfilling. It will lead you nowhere until you see the bigger picture. Take a purposeful break and gain some objectivity. Go trekking, jump out of a plane, or just simply travel somewhere alone. Step outside of your comfort zone and really understand who you are and what you want from your life. If you are confused on what you want to do with your life, then you need clarity and a sabbatical will certainly help with this.

2. Take a note as you try new things

You need to start noting your reaction to new experiences. Do you like the idea of leaving your current job? Or is something stopping you from quitting? Is this fear? Or is the barrier deeper? Do you feel inadequate in your role? Getting to the bottom of these big questions helps you to find out, what you need and what will fulfil you.

3. Revisit your childhood dreams

There is a theory in phycology linking childhood dreams to adulthood depression. It states that as children we develop dreams of who we will be as adults. This childhood vision is made up of our innate values and desires. The theory argues that, if when we become adults, we ignore our childhood visions of who we should be, we become depressed. This is for a variety of reasons, including the fact that our innate values don’t change much, between child-adulthood, so we are turning away from our authentic selves. The moral of the story is that there may be something in our buried childhood dreams. Revisit what you wanted to be when you were younger. Do any of these dreams still resonate with you? You could find your calling and if not, you are that much closer.

How to know when you have found your purpose

What to look out for if you feel you may have stumbled upon your life’s work;

  1. It feels more like a hobby than work.
  2. You work is an extension of your beliefs and values.
  3. You are willing to suffer for your work, and use setbacks as motivation.
  4. You lose yourself in the work, often losing sense of time.
  5. You are able to maintain a work/life balance without feeling drained.
  6. The concept of work is never daunting; you look forward to it.
  7. The people closest to you will notice your contentment.
  8. No matter how exhausted you are, you look forward to continuing your work.

Psychological Tricks to Help You At Work

The internet is awash with amateur psychology tips, all varying in degrees of believability but as non-qualified psychologists we can never really know. That’s why theres nothing better than hearing a tip, that not only makes sense, but upon hearing you recognise you’ve known it all along. Here are 7 reasonable and believable psychological tips, to help guide you in the workplace;

  1. People have the clearest memory of the first and last moment occurring during an event, while the middle becomes a blur. So if you’re wanting to make an impression at an interview, or a meeting, try and be the first or last through the door.
  2. When laughter breaks out in a group of people, each one will instinctively glance at whichever other individual they feel closest to in the group. This is a good way of spotting the social relationships at work.
  3. People’s feet are often an insight into their thoughts. For example, if you approach two people talking and they turn their torso to you but not their feet, they’d prefer you left them alone. Similarly if you’re talking to someone and their feet are pointing away from you, they want to escape.
  4. Silence, is a powerful tool. If someone gives you an unsatisfactory answer to a question, stay quiet and keep eye contact and they’ll usually feel pressured to keep talking and reveal more.
  5. If you know someone is going to have a go at you or try and lowball you during a meeting, deliberately sit right next to them. The proximity will make them feel less comfortable with being aggressive or confrontational, and you’ll have an easier time of it.
  6. When thinking of a team bonding session remember this trick. An event that involves adrenalin – for example rollercoasters or horror films,  – will help simulate arousal in the brain, and make people think they’re enjoying your company and the overall event.

And finally

7.  A warm handshake makes you far more attractive to people than a cold one. It might be an idea to invest in gloves!

How to Cultivate Healthy Work Relationships

Having genuine work relationships is hugely important to our morale. According to a study by the Gallup Organization, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. And it doesn’t just have to be a “best friend”: the study found that people who simply had a good friend in the workplace are 50% more likely to be satisfied. People who have friends at work receive a whopping 137% more personal development support.

Healthy work relationships, boost your productivity, work engagement and have a direct impact on your overall success. Interestingly, even though workplace friendships make us happier, people are increasingly reluctant to make friends at work in comparison to previous years. Why? Once work was a major source of friendships. We took our families to work picnics and invited colleagues over for dinner, now we seek to draw the line between work and personal time, to promote better wellbeing. However, even though separation of work and life is important, studies tell us that having good friendships at work make us happier.

Where to Build Good Work Relationships

We should try to build and maintain good working relationships with everyone. However, there are certain relationships that deserve extra attention.

For example, you will benefit from developing good relationships with key stakeholders in your organisation. These are the people who have a stake in your success or failure as they are impacted by it. Forming a bond with key influencers will help you ensure that your projects, and career, stay on track and further, will give you an idea of their work standards/preferences.

To find out who these people are, do a Stakeholder Analysis. Once you’ve created a list of people who are impacted by your work, you can devote time to building and managing these relationships, in an authentic way.

How to Build Authentic Work Friendships

Cultivating relationships doesn’t have to come at the expense of meeting goals at work. Science has now discovered how to foster closeness and break down social and emotional barriers in less than 45 minutes.

One study found that binning small talk and instead focusing on self-disclosure and non-work topics can forge a closeness that makes co-workers more collaborative, productive, and accountable. Another survey of global workers found that over 26% said discussing success with colleagues motivates them.

As a general rule, when making new friends, Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, suggests that “Vulnerability is the key to emotional bonding, without which relationships tend to feel superficial and meaningless.

Whilst finding common ground can certainly help make an initial connection oversharing is a no-no.It can make people feel you lack authenticity. Be mindful of personal space. Don’t quickly suggest meeting up outside of work, its a big step to take a relationship outside of the office, so take things slowly or it may feel awkward.

Last but by no means least, gossip isn’t a good way to fast track friendships, it only fosters a negative environment. Stick to positive interactions and avoid discussions that may back-fire against you in the long run.

Building good work relationships makes you happier, more productive and can open the doors to career advancement. Start by devoting a portion of your day to cultivating meaningful work relationships. Even five minutes a day, if it’s genuine, can help to build a bond between you and a colleague. Be honest, avoid gossip, and just enjoy getting to share your precious time with people you consider to be friends.


PCA Law (the Personal Communications Academy For Lawyers) are the legal sector’s specialist providers of conversation-based experiential training products

We are the only Personal Communication Consultancy in the world to work exclusively with lawyers...


We are happy to come in to talk with you at your offices, wherever you’re based, so please contact us at: