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Introduction

Confidence is the hot topic this month. It has a direct impact in all aspects of our lives, whether we realise it or not. Confidence can impact how we communicate with others, make decisions or whether we take a risk and step out of our comfort zone.

Doctors are some of the most highly respected professionals and often seen as authorities in their field. People trust them, often literally with their lives. Yet what many people don’t see is that doctors sometimes struggle with self-doubt.

You may be confident in one aspect yet have little self-confidence in another. For example, you may be confident diagnosing an illness, but have no confidence in delivering a presentation to an audience.

In this month’s article we will delve into two common scenarios in the workplace where confidence is necessary and provide tips on how to exude confidence even when you’re not feeling it.

Job interviews

Talking about yourself – yes, you will have to

Is self-doubt holding you back from getting the job you deserve? Have you ever been to a job interview and struggled to get through it because you’re felt anxious and unprepared? You know what you’ve achieved but you find it difficult to talk about yourself.  Whether you are sitting in front of one person or a panel of 15, your lack of confidence will show and likely impact your ability to get the role. Because your lack of confidence causes you to do poorly in the interview, it then reinforces your lack of confidence. It becomes a never-ending cycle.

So, how do you overcome self-doubt and exude confidence at job interviews? Let’s look at some methods that will help you prepare and get through the interviews:

  1. Prepare: Make sure you have researched the organisation to whom you are applying for the role. Plan and prepare for the questions you may be asked
  2. Practice your pitch: Your elevator pitch needs to be precise and leave no question about who you are, what you do and what makes you unique. The words will flow naturally if you believe them
  3. Current CV: Know the content of your CV intimately so that you can recite your experience, qualifications, and interests confidently
  4. Visualise the outcome: Athletes use this strategy to win, and you can, too. Visualise the interview process, answering questions confidently, and then being offered the role. Do this multiple times. Positive reinforcement will boost your self-confidence
  5. Comfortable clothing: Professional clothing doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Wear something that makes you feel good and relaxed, otherwise your discomfort will show
  6. Arrive early: Give yourself time to do some deep breathing to relax and help calm your nerves
  7. Make eye contact and smile: No sweaty hands! When you greet your interviewers, a warm smile while looking directly at them can help you feel more confident
  8. Seating: When you sit down, make sure you’re comfortable. Maintain your posture so you’re not slouching but avoid looking stiff. Relax your shoulders and you’ll feel less uncomfortable and more confident

These tips may also help if you’ve avoided applying for roles because you don’t believe you will be successful or you dread the thought of being interviewed.

Networking events

Overcoming nerves at small and large events

It’s not just a fear of public speaking that cripples people; walking into a room full of people whom you don’t know can have the same effect. Imagine attending a medical conference of 500 attendees.  Not only was it overwhelming making the decision to attend, you are then apprehensive when you arrive because there are no familiar faces. Your nerves make you freeze and prevent you from approaching people. You notice groups of people in animated conversation, yet no one notices you. What would you do?

Lack of confidence can strike anyone at any time. Even if you’ve attended networking events in the past, your confidence can be side lined when you least expect it.

After 2-3 years of mostly online contact, we formed new habits and lost practice in striking up conversations and socialising in large groups. Yet, networking events are an essential way to help expand your connections and further your career.

As more doctors start attending medical events and conferences, many will attend on their own.

Here are some ideas on how you can make the most of networking events, and how to recover when anxiety stops you talking to people:

  1. Do your homework: Find out who will be there, and arrange to meet up with someone at the event
  2. Early connections: Try to make connections at the beginning of the event so you ‘know’ someone as the event progresses. Find someone you’re drawn to
  3. Solo attendees: Look for someone on their own and introduce yourself to them. You might feel like you’re the only one on your own, but you usually aren’t
  4. Take stock: If you feel totally overwhelmed and unable to approach anyone, walk out, take a deep breath, think through your options, then walk back in and start afresh
  5. Smile: Yes, even while you’re on your own, you’ll find people are more likely to invite you into their conversations if you look friendly
  6. Be prepared: Have a list in your mind of open questions to ask people. As you know, people do like to talk about themselves, and it’s the easiest way to break the ice

Conclusion

There are other situations where your confidence may be derailed: starting a new job where you need to adjust to a new team and the expectations of the organisation; rotations, where you are moving from one department to another every 10 weeks and needing to learn to work with a new team each time; or delivering a presentation to other professionals. Regardless of the situation, following some of the tips in this article will help you build your confidence so nothing will hold you back in your career, or your life.

Remember, knowledge is power. The more you plan, prepare and research, the more confident you will feel and appear. At worst, you can feign confidence!

If you would like some help to get through your confidence blocks, contact me for a confidential chat at [email protected]

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