Three Easy Steps to Build Confidence at the Front Desk
When do you feel at your most confident?
Typically, it doesn't matter what the activity is that we are doing; confidence comes from the combination of three things:
- When we are doing something familiar to us
- When we are doing things that we have done many times
- When we have really clear guidelines and know the rules of the game
Learning Something New
Think about learning something new such as learning to drive. You need to practice, you need to know the rules of the road and then you need to be doing it regularly.
It's no good getting in the car and leapfrogging down the road, having one lesson and being told to take your test or finding yourself going the wrong way up a motorway.
At the office, it's no different. Without confidence, there can be no job satisfaction. Think about it, no one wants to feel scared wondering if you are doing it ‘right’ or if you are letting the team down.
Being unconfident leads to negative, stressful energy, not characteristics associated with a positive or productive team member. It's worth tackling the challenge and knowing that we can become confident in anything, we just need to identify and take action.
Ironically, focusing on ourselves is important but this also affects how our customers feel.
If you or your team are fumbling, if you are unsure or nervous about making the recommendations then the client's personality will dictate the situation. They will either take control and decide what they think should happen, leave to ‘think about it’ or run for the hills.
Of course, if you're new to a role, most people will understand your lack of confidence in the beginning. However, if this persists then it can lead to a build-up of lack of trust or need to compensate to prevent damage to the office.
I have never been a fan of ‘fake it till you make it’. I much prefer to ‘believe it till you achieve it’.
So, from my extensive time coaching within practices, here are my top 3 tips to building confidence:
1. Know What's Expected
The system is vital. This means you don't have to worry about what it is that you should be doing, each detailed step of the task is going to be mapped out so you know the intention, operation and outcome.
Your systems are the rules of the road, the practical guide of how to do something, what part everyone is playing and when it needs to happen. This means that you can be confident that if you learn and implement, then you can be confident that you are meeting the expectations.
Being a star team member means owning the difference simply by knowing the system and being confident in executing them. In the words of Micheal Gerber “systems run the business and people run the system.”
2. Learn How to Handle Questions or Situations That Leave You Feeling Uncomfortable
First, identify the absolute specific issue. Write a list of the questions or scenarios where you feel unconfident.
If you need help, think of the situations you would then check with someone if you had handled something correctly, something you dread being asked or a conversation that would leave you feeling uncomfortable.
By recording the lack of confidence as a question you are going to be able to create a plan. Ask team members at an opportune moment for a chat on their experiences, research or brainstorm how you could deal with the situation. Not only will you then be able to build confidence before it is needed, but you will also be creating a lovely record of how far you have come (which in itself is another great way to build confidence).
It's also important to identify in which area your confidence is lacking. For example, it may not be a practical issue. It may be a deeper self-confidence issue, such as comparisons or a limiting belief. In practice knowing how to deal with rejection or ask for payment may not simply be requiring a ‘how to’ solution.
For example, in practice, an understanding and clearing of fear may be more beneficial than knowing how to practically deal with a situation
This is where working with a coach or mentor can help. When you're learning it's ok to borrow confidence. You might not have done the degrees, seminars or maybe haven't been in the role long enough to see the results you make to your clients. Your team or peers have, they can support and share until you build your arsenal.
Don't be afraid to know what you don't know. You can still take control of the situation by being honest and agreeing on how and when you will respond to people if you need time. People will value honesty and be impressed if you appear to be going the extra mile in the process.
It's always better to check than to make it up. Just being honest can remove the nerves. In my experience, people are generally kind at heart, and certainly much kinder than we are to ourselves. So, share that you are new to the challenge and give yourself the extra time you need to be confident.
3. Use Your Body Language
There are also some physical elements you can do with body language to boost confidence.
Body language covers a wide range of elements but it's essentially communicating continually without words and again it is a two-way street. It affects your confidence and is interpreted and affects the confidence others have in you.
Let's try this, physically slump round the shoulders, drop your head, break eye contact with the screen. When done all at once it's obvious but most of these movements are a subconscious reaction when we don't feel confident. We need to consciously keep resetting and being aware of what's happening.
What other sensations do you notice when you are uncertain?
Is your heart pounding so loud you think everyone can hear it? Then take a gentle slow breath. It doesn't have to be an audible sigh, just a slow steady breath. Ask the voice in your head to shhh and lean back into the conversation.
Where possible be upstanding, this will help as you have a better blood supply, it avoids people leaning over you in an intimidating way.
If you have a challenge, you can prepare for in advance then my favourite trick is the starfish developed by Amy Cuddy, associate professor at Harvard Business School and author of Make Yourself Big: How the Body Shapes the Mind.
Research shows that adopting power poses can make all the difference between success and failure. It's taught for public speaking, interviews and is great for children.
Simply stand in the shape of a star taking up as much space as you can and hold for 1 minute or as long as you need. (You might need to either adapt this to your surroundings or pop into the nearest loo!)
Confidence vs Strong Personality
Confidence is not to be confused with having a strong personality, experience, it's something that comes from practice and internal work. It's an inside job and some of the loudest, most confidently appearing are the most insecure.
So, score yourself now on your level of confidence out of 10.
Don't try to make the leap from five to 10, it's fine to take the smaller steps. What one little action could you do? Before you look for ways to improve from a five to a six look at what you have done to get you to a five?
Build up your confidence by identifying the strength and confidence you have already. By reading this article here, you are already taking steps and showing up like the star you are, and that’s a great start.
Want to keep learning? Find more articles from Wendy O'Brien - Northern Star Mentoring: