Confidence eludes so many people, all around the world. The confidence to follow our dream careers, the confidence to ask for a raise, the confidence to ask that person out on a date, the confidence to speak in front of a large group of people. Right Voice for You facilitator and personal development coach, Christian Verny has some ideas on why people lack this elusive quality, and what they can do to change that.
Today, Christian travels the world empowering others to build their confidence and transform aspects of their lives, but back at the start of his career in IT, he remembers hating talking in front of others. "Back in 1990 my boss asked me to do some training. I dutifully did as I was told but hated every single minute. It terrified me and I was so uncomfortable with public speaking," Christian says. "I have to laugh now considering what I do for a living. I love public speaking and facilitating classes to teach others how to find happier, more confident lives for themselves."
Christian sees many people who lack confidence and are stuck, unable to move forward in their lives. In so many cases he finds it's the opinions of others and even judgement of their own selves that has inadvertently created this situation. "They have so many blocks, and they think these obstacles come from genuine inabilities, but when we peel back the layers it often comes down to something a parent or a teacher said, something they perceive society disapproves of. They bought into these ideas without realising it, and now - unbeknownst to them - those voices still rule their decisions."
"It can even be something positive someone said. A teacher may have told someone they excel at Mathematics, science and more practical subjects with the insinuation that they lean that way, rather than to creative pursuits. If someone buys into that, they may end up lacking the confidence to take on creative things that interest them later in life because they see themselves as practical, and only good at accounting, IT or something more logical. Working out those deep set beliefs can be really beneficial," he advises.
Christian believes that asking ourselves some questions - and not forcing the answers to come - can help hugely to get to the root of confidence issues. He's seen dozens of people go through this process and watched them blossom before his eyes. "They don't need tips and tricks to be more confident, they just need to remove what's in the way."
Christian Verny has been an IT consultant for over 30 years and has managed hundreds of projects for various companies in France and around Europe. In 2016 he discovered Access Consciousness and a new way of being. From being rationally mind, calculated and organised, he felt a new energy when he realised the power of seeing wider possibilities instead of doing business, relationships - and indeed life- in the exactly the same way for decades. He is a personal development coach and an Access Consciousness Certified Facilitator specialising in Right Voice For You, and Joy of Business classes.
Question: Are you surprised that a third of employees lack the confidence to ask for a raise?
Christian Verny: No, I am not surprised by this percentage. We are now living in a world completely different from 100, or even 200 years ago. Our ancestors worked in the fields rather than an office. And then there was the age of industrialisation where we started working in factories and basically programmed ourselves to do repetitive tasks. We were paid with a fixed price, and if we didn't agree with the work, there were plenty of people available to do it. Today, many of us work in an office where tasks and roles differ between different people and new jobs and ways of working are being created almost every day. There are so many more variables at play now when it comes to asking for a raise, so it's no surprise that people can lack the confidence to do so.
Question: Why do you think we lack this confidence?
Christian Verny: We lack this confidence for many reasons, and the main one for me is about judgements; judgements we receive from others and judgements we have of ourselves.
Depending on the country and culture, if you ask for a raise, you will perhaps end up earning more money than your colleagues. And how would they take this?
There are many judgements and fears around just this one situation, that can result in losing your colleagues as friends and being seen differently by them. Perhaps they distance themselves from you because they envy your confidence in asking for a raise? Or they impart judgement on you because they don't believe you're as deserving of a raise as they are? The judgements are endless.
There is also the judgement of not being perfect. These often include judgements you have of yourself. You'll think to yourself "if only I had this skill or experience, then I can ask for a raise," or "only when I'm able to perform all these tasks perfectly can I ask for a raise." These judgements, much like the judgements we experience from others, can mean missing out on opportunities for a raise.
Our beliefs around money can also affect our confidence and ability to ask for a raise. Beliefs like, "you need to work hard to earn money" or make certain sacrifices, can be particularly limiting.
Question: How often is this associated with a lack of feeling like we don't actually deserve a raise?
Christian Verny: It's often associated with the fact that we think or have this feeling. In fact, we live by a "if you do a good job, you get a reward" mantra in many areas of life and rely on this when it comes to our work.
For example, during a dolphin show after each trick, the dolphin is rewarded. It's part of the deal. We also learn the idea of reward and punishment from a young age, particularly at school. If you work well, listen or hand in assignments on time, you are rewarded. You don't have to ask for a reward, it's part of the deal.
So when it comes to the workplace, if we aren't being offered a raise, do we deserve to ask for one? This is often a feeling of insecurity that many of us have. We are limited in our capacity to receive by simply asking. It can be a fear of the unknown that prevents us from asking, because we don't know if the response will be good or bad. And who wants to be rejected? As mentioned above, our judgements can also prevent us from asking.
Question: How does this fear also correlate with presenting to large groups of people in the office?
Christian Verny: The fear is much the same and can relate to public speaking. All the judgements coming from people and ourselves before presenting to a large group of people are blocking us. For example, "I need to be perfect during my presentation, otherwise what will people think of me?"
Question: What can we do to gain more confidence in the workplace?
Christian Verny: Being aware of our value. Acknowledging how unique we are and our value in doing things well or differently.
Being aware of the judgements that were mentioned above. Acknowledge them and then destroy them each day. You always have the choice to not let judgements limit you or control your life, especially if these judgements are from other people. If they are judgements you have of yourself, embrace those strengths and weaknesses equally and acknowledge your value above all.
Question: Can these tips also build our freedom within business?
Christian Verny: Yes, for sure. If you are confident in your personal life and with the value you bring to people, you can be confident with your business, because you are the same person who runs their business and their life.
Having no points of view, no judgements on the manner of doing or developing your business, will give you a competitive advantage. Because your business is unique and that gives you the liberty of doing whatever you want to develop your business.
Question: How did you become more comfortable with presenting in front of large groups?
Christian Verny: First of all, I recognised my value and I was not judging myself for not being perfect when I was presenting in front of people.
Second, it's important to be aware of what is required by people. Before preparing a presentation, I would ask questions like, "what do people want to hear from me?" Instead of pushing information onto people I would find ways to make a presentation seem more collaborative.
Question: How do we approach asking for a raise with our employer?
Christian Verny: You can use the same approach I had in public speaking even if it's with only one person.
Recognise the value you have and how you contribute to the company. Do not judge yourself of not being perfect or take judgments from others. Then simply, ask. The fear of the unknown and fear of rejection can be scary, but you'll never know unless you try. And what if they said yes? Then you'd not only have a raise, but so much more confidence in yourself and your value.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash