The 5 ways confident women speak, act and behave

Some people inspire confidence wherever they go. Confidence is something that can be fleeting – it can be hard to nail down exactly as a “thing”. Often when we have it, we don’t realise it and when we feel we are lacking it, we often have greater reserves at our disposal than we really know.

Do people perceive you as a confident person? Studies show that people consider those with confidence to be more trustworthy and capable than those that aren’t.

There are more women than men at colleges and universities around the world. We graduate in strong numbers and enter the workforce in a higher number of entry-level management jobs, says a 2011 study McKinsey research paper.

Then, according to Forbes, something happens. Our numbers in management start to drop and by the time vice president level was achieved, only 26 per cent of the candidate pool was female.  Women who do rise to the top, more often than not, display a demeanour of confidence.

Confidence is something that can be learned, practised and perfected. Let’s look at some of the ways you can engender a more “confident you”.

#1: Women have a “broad spectrum” vision

In the book The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work, authors Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnson suggest that women have what they called “broad spectrum notice.”

“We notice the emotional reactions to an idea around the conference table, allowing us to gauge support,” they say. “That also means women are more likely to get thrown off by the one person who isn’t buying what they’re selling vs. a man who doesn’t see or care what that guy thinks.”

#2: Women “think too much”

“Women are much more likely than men to ruminate.  Excessive examination actually inhibits confidence because it can keep women from taking action,” says ABC News’ Claire Shipman. Don’t allow yourself to become “frozen” on an idea, she says, just speak up and make an affirmative action.

Shipman recalls when she was a guest on a political show and found herself doing much less talking than her male counterparts and fixating on “sticking to the question” which she called “classic good-girl behaviour”. Who are you trying not to upset?

#3: Women can be “underexposed” in the workplace

“It’s one thing for executives to commit themselves to change,” warns the McKinsey study, “it’s another to actually make progress. A starting point is making sure enough women are being considered for advancement, to boost the odds that some will get through.”

The study openly suggests that women in business may be less visible than men. “Broadening the conversation ensures that high-talent women aren’t “underexposed,” compared with men, as senior executives talk through promotion possibilities.”

#4: Women put up with meagre conditions

A recent study from the University of Victoria looked at interning in Canada. The study found that “the majority of interns in Canada are young women, who are unpaid or are making less than the minimum wage. Around 300 000 young Canadians work unpaid, and the vast majority are women.”

“The confidence gap has developed so early (and) is only reinforced by the workplace setting,” says writer Clara Vaz. “Women spend more time in unpaid or minimally earning support roles and when they are moved to managerial positions are often viewed with suspicion as they step outside of the ‘carer’ and ‘supporter’ roles.”

#5: Women lack authority

“In addition to leadership courses and mentoring programs,” says Andrea Clarke, a principal specialising in communication leadership, writing in The Australian. “There must also be an equal investment in the ability for women to communicate with authority and true confidence.”

Even when they might find themselves in higher corporate positions, the writer believes, “Women are crippled by a lack of confidence driven by a lack of awareness about how to develop it in the first place.”

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