Ever notice how coaches talk about themselves? They may describe themselves as a Career Coach or Executive Coach or Life Coach; in fact, the list of different kinds of coaches is pretty endless. Notice how they share the word ‘coach’, as this is the functional descriptor, the active part of what is done. But the bit before the word coach? This is the bit that demarcates the territory, where coach – and client – can find a match around an area of interest or speciality.
When it comes to Confidence Coaching, this shows that coaches are marking confidence as their bit of the map, saying ‘this is the work I love to do and this is the area I get great results in’.
Then, just to add to the fun, you can also get Career Confidence Coaches, Executive Confidence Coaches…etc, etc, rinse and repeat, you get the idea.
So if you’re someone who is struggling with your confidence, how do you know who to work with and what to look for in a Confidence Coach? How can you pick a coach…with confidence? Let’s explore the field in a bit more depth.
What is confidence anyway?
Confidence is one of those words that has marched into the modern lexicon with real, well, confidence! There are books, podcasts, magazines dedicated to helping you feel more confident. The TV schedules are littered with programmes showing people transforming from unconfident to confident in the fields of dating, home maintenance, baking. It feels as though we have a common and shared understanding of what this confidence thing is – but do we?
If someone points to an orange, you’d probably both agree that it’s an orange, yes? But when it comes to confidence, it’s crucial to remember that it’s not a tangible thing. At best, it’s a marker – one of those flailing arm inflatables – indicating ‘there’s something here’.
The coach’s first and most important service to the client is to help them clarify what exactly confidence – or a lack of it – means for them, and work from there. As it’s not a fixed ‘thing’ coaches can’t assume they and the client are in agreement about what the lack of confidence is. Rather, they need to find out what the sub-set of stories are that the client is telling themselves about themselves in order to work out which intervention will best suit them. For example:
Finding out what the lack of confidence story is linked to is crucial to implementing the right strategy for change. If the coach jumps in too soon, or makes an assumption, there’s a chance they could do more harm than good. Knowing when, where and how to push is vital to taking the client on the journey they want, rather than pushing them out of the coaching experience wounded, and feeling less confident than ever.
Who has confidence coaching?
Well, you know, humans! Meaning, it is human to experience times in our lives when confidence fluctuates, and it is a rare person who is immune to that natural ebb and flow. Confidence is a useful marker, a shift in our internal systems that’s flagging data up, wanting to get our attention.
If we receive a promotion, are learning a new skill or are trying to expand our comfort zone through any activity, we will likely experience that unsettling sensation of having swum too far out of shore. By the time the mind has the thought, ‘I don’t feel very confident,’ our physiology has already been doing the dance of the seven veils in our systems, pressing alarm buttons and kicking over the furniture. The not so subtle question our system is demanding we answer is: “Am I ok? Am I going to get through this?”
For some of us, reassuring that voice can be pretty straightforward – we have information available to us to reassure the voice and counter the worry and our systems can return to normal.
For others, it may be that we’ve never learned the skills to reach for the off-switch, or that our systems are experiencing a deeper override – such as a stubborn limiting belief that INSISTS we’re about to be found out as fraudulent at any moment because we’re RUBBISH.
Confidence Coaching is for anyone experiencing the impact of chronic or fluctuating self-doubt, low self-esteem, negative self-chatter, debilitating over-thinking or paralysing lack of decision-making. Lack of confidence may be a constant companion or a new friend. Either way, coaching can help.
What will a confidence coach do?
Depending on the root of your story or stories around confidence, your coach may work with you in a number of different ways, to loosen up the grip of the limiting internal chatter and create more space for you to play with, in which you can start to discover, connect to and grow the more confident you!
Here are a few examples of how a coach might work, to give you a flavour of what you might expect in a session:
Sometimes the best way to feel more confidence in an area is to get on and do it. The client won’t feel confident – naturally – so the coach will work with them to create an experiment based on finding the smallest step possible…the tiniest, simplest, most achievable step towards dipping their toe in the direction of getting to where they want to go. It’s hard to argue with such a teeny-tiny proposition, right? Achieving that small step builds the confidence to try the next step and the next. Each step should be treated as a victory and celebrated accordingly. This teaches the brain to equate the new activity with feeling good.
Having the coach as co-creator, accountability partner and cheerleader is invaluable to this process, which takes courage from the client, but pays dividends quickly.
From being to doing
When clients conflate confidence with identity, by stating “I am not confident” they are making it a ‘being’ thing, not a ‘doing’ thing.
The coach may challenge this conflation by asking:
(Yes, it’s true, coaches can be VERY cheeky sometimes!)
The client usually agrees this is not the case and from there can be invited to list the MANY areas they will, in fact, ‘be’ confident;
making a cup of tea, gardening, working with spreadsheets, making their bed, pub quizzes
Decoupling confidence from something fixed and therefore immutably so, to something fluid and variable helps the client narrow the focus onto precisely the area(s) where they want to increase the feeling of confidence.
Even better, this process also confirms the existence of a Resource Bank that they can take confidence deposits from! “If you know how it is to feel confident doing pub quizzes, what can you take from that experience to bring to your problem with speaking out in meetings?”
Challenge the beliefs
Clients often express lack of confidence as the place where our being meets the world, as though ‘the world’ is a judging thing (and the teeth of the world are sharp).
When clients say they want to be more confident, it’s often in relation to things like:
The invisible subtitles at work underneath these statements say:
If I’m me, the world will find me to fall short and I can’t tolerate the discomfort.
Here, the coach may work with the client around challenging the assumptions they have with a series of gentle questions, akin to untangling a big ball of wool, trying to find the loose end and pulling, pulling…
Who, exactly, is judging you? How do you know they’re judging you? Do they judge you ALL the time? Do you have ANY evidence that would indicate they’re not judging you? Do you have any evidence to suggest they’ve ever judged you positively? Do you judge them? What about? What are the levels that one is judged by? Who sets these levels? Can they be altered?
How do you know you can’t tolerate discomfort? How much can you tolerate? What examples do you have of when you did tolerate discomfort? What happened? How long did it last for? What happened afterwards? What’s a truer story for you about the impact of discomfort on you?
There are times when a little lateral thinking can go a long way to plugging a confidence gap. For example, a client may lack confidence speaking out in meetings. If they try – and fail – to experiment in this area (or simply feel unable to attempt an experiment) then it can be useful to identify other resources they have that can help them to achieve their outcome.
For example, a client lacks confidence speaking out in meetings and is frustrated that people aren’t getting to know their true personality. By working with them to highlight what they do feel confident at, you may discover that they love creating presentations. For this client, it may be a safer option for them to lean on their resource of creativity rather than tackling their communication issue directly so that they can meet their need of having their colleagues understand more about who they really are (quirky, funny and creative, not the serious person they may experience in meetings).
Is confidence coaching for everyone?
Well, yes and no. If you and the coach are aligned to the same outcomes, then yes.
But there’s one caveat around the supposition that more confidence is always a better thing.
We live in a very extrovert, personality-driven culture at present. The worlds of education and work lean away from celebrating the quieter, more reflective or introverted members of society. Clients may therefore seek out coaching because they’re experiencing ‘square peg round hole’ syndrome and feel they need to buff off their edges to fit in.
Sometimes, tackling this head on with Confidence Coaching that leads to change is just the ticket and gives the person what they were looking for. They’ll feel they have more range so they can show up in ways that are additive to their core personality traits.
Other times, it may be that confidence coaching works to orient the client away from a confident appreciation of who they already are, and this can be corrosive to their range.
The best coaches are willing and able to follow the client as they pivot around the territory and really land on the path that is truly in their best interests, without being attached to any outcome.
Watching a shy, introverted, thoughtful, sensitive, or reflective person work out how to make their home in who they truly are – and then grow from this place – is truly wonderful. They may think they want to change into ‘a more confident person’…but usually, there’s no place like home. And discovering there are gifts in one’s perceived short fallings is a powerful paradigm shift. Embracing the confidence to not change has to be a powerful, positive choice too, so it’s important that the coach is really clear about what someone’s tolerance and readiness for change is.
Should I work with a coach or a confidence coach?
In love, you have to kiss a few frogs, right? So it is with coaching. The most crucial aspect to achieving more confidence is to have confidence in your coach, so that you can have enough confidence in the process to do the work – whatever the work ends up looking like.
We tend to be most confident in a coach that comes via a recommendation from someone we know.
If this option isn’t available, the next best indicator of success comes from feeling a great chemistry with your coach, coupled with a trust that emanates from a sense of the coach’s congruence. This means if the way the coach talks on their website and social media matches with how they talk when you chat with them, chances are you’ll have the confidence in them to do the work required to develop confidence in yourself.
Whether someone markets themselves as a Confidence Coach or a coach that works with confidence is probably a tertiary consideration after both of those aspects.
Hopefully this article has given you some confidence to navigate the wonderful world of coaching so you can make the leap into finding a coach who can take you further with your own confidence aspirations.
If you want to find a Confidence Coach to dial up your confidence levels then check out the Animas Coaching Directory by clicking below.