Our words can sabotage our success and undermine our confidence. Without thinking, we can say things that give the wrong impression or repeatedly teach ourselves that we can’t.
Conversely, we can achieve success by decreasing our language patterns that unintentionally limit our potential and increasing our language patterns that require us to think more optimistically.
The famous Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right,” emphasizes how much our attitude determines our success or failure, and our attitude is reflected in our language. What we say not only gives others clues to the state of our mind, it influences our beliefs about ourselves and our abilities to achieve.
When we speak confidently, we project confidence. When we choose words that reflect confidence, we influence our thinking to believe we can.
These are my five language tips to make confidence feel light and easy.
1. Eliminate the word ‘try'
The word ‘try’ presupposes failure, that you have already doubted your ability to achieve your goal, that you are not fully committed to your success. Therefore it automatically undermines your success.
Instead focus on what it is you want to happen, what you need to do. It may not guarantee ‘success’, whatever that means to you and especially if you are looking for perfection, but it will set you up to view failure as feedback. and which means you are willing to constantly review what it is you need to do to get where you want to be.
I was working with a client who told me: I’ve been trying to take it one day at a time and trying to stay positive. I’m going to try and build a new habit of going to the gym. It’s still hard to juggle everything but I’m trying my best to prioritise.
What if she changed it to: I am taking it one day at a time and I am focussing on the positive. I have set a goal to go to the gym this week. I am juggling everything so much better and using the prioritisation matrix to help with that.
When try is removed, she sounds determined. You can feel her confidence grow, you feel that she is focussed, you believe she will achieve her goal.
2. Reframe your ideas when you use the word ‘but'
I had another client who was really stuck and feeling depressed as life had sent quite a few challenges her way and she was exhausted. I would send her emails with resources to help her and each time she would reply with the phrase: ‘Thank you for…, but …’
That tiny word ‘but’ that negates whatever you have said or written before it. Each resource I had sent her, she wrote off or looked for the problems, the difficulties, the reasons why it may not help her.
What if my client had changed the word ‘but’ to ‘and’? Thank you for… And I will… She would have been focussed on what her next step could be. A much more resourceful, resilient and confident state.
What is your response when someone suggests something new to you? Are you flexible? Do you see the opportunity or do you notice the difficulties like my client. That tiny little word holds us back and gives the impression we are uncertain and doubt our ability to change.
3. Challenge modals
Look out for words like ‘should’ or ‘need’ or ‘must’ in your vocabulary, especially if you’re feeing stressed as this is a sign of us feeling overwhelmed by our perception of demands coming from others.
The reality is that expectations of teachers and their workload is enormous. However, we can notice the language we are using to manage the impact our thinking is having on us.
- I must get these books marked today,
- I should volunteer to help out with catch-up sessions,
- I need to get my data done first.
When you notice this language pattern, ask yourself ‘according to whom?’ which allows us to put our beliefs in that moment into context and reduce the stress. Being clear on what is important to us means that we can prioritise effectively and not get drawn into ‘needs and musts’ rather more on ‘wants and desires’. We can instead use the more confident language of intention, focus and planning.
If you are sending out an email with a task for colleagues or informing them of a deadline, beware theses words as they can trigger resistance, cause stress levels to increase and come across as overbearing rather than confident.
4. Focus on what you want
Quite simply, the brain cannot process negatives. When you focus on ‘not worrying’ or ‘not hesitating’ or ‘not being nervous’, you direct your mind to focus on what you’re trying to avoid and thereby perpetuating the problem!
When you focus on what it is you want, you direct your mind confidently in the direction you want to go, the feeling you want to have, the image you want to project. It requires you develop clarity too because what does it mean to you to ‘not worry’? What does that look, sound and feel like? For me that would mean to focus instead on ‘being present’ or ‘saying affirmations’ or ‘feeling calm’.
Whether you are talking to yourself or to others, it provides direction, assurance and inspiration.
5. Choose uplifting words
I have a colleague who talks out loud a lot and mutters ‘I give up’ several times a day. Not only is my colleague undermining their resilience and giving themselves permission to fail, they are projecting that impression to those around them.
A simple alternative may be to remind yourself to focus, or tell yourself you’re almost there or confidently assert to yourself ‘You’ve got this!’ Even better would be to focus on a specific behaviour that would make a difference in that moment, ensuring it is kind, compassionate and optimistic.
If you would like training on language patterns or you would like to work with a coach to start shifting your thinking to a more confident plane so that you can unleash your full potential on the world of education, message me and I would love to chat and explore how I can help.