Monday, 11 March 2013

When in doubt... fake it.

Setting up this blog has got me thinking about confidence. Even when drafting my first post, I was already apologising for it not being very good (my sister had to point out the irony there). It's not because I necessarily didn't think it was any good; I just wanted to cover myself in advance and lower everyone's expectations. Just in case.

Which brings me to today's words of wisdom - if you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will. This is a cliché that gets thrown about all over the place, from self-help books to The X Factor. But it's true. When you're marketing a product, if you're not convinced it's worth buying, then you're not going to persuade anyone else. And the same goes for yourself. Why would someone give you a job, go out with you or do anything else you ask them to if you don't even think that they should?

So what can you do? Some people just aren't that confident. I know I'm not. I'm constantly surprised when someone laughs at my joke, likes something I've done at work or tells me I look nice today. I've always been that way and it seems unlikely that now, at the grand old age of 30, I'm going to have a complete personality transplant. So how do I convince people I believe in myself, and in turn, make them believe in me?

And the answer, apparently, is - fake it.

Or so says Amy Cuddy in this video from Her theory is that our body language has an impact not only on how other people see us, but also on how we see ourselves.

Amy's conducted experiments which prove that by taking a confident, relaxed and open body position for just two minutes, we're more likely to feel powerful and successful, because it affects the hormone levels in our brain that affect dominance and stress. She then goes on to look at how the result of those experiments can be applied to real life situations like job interviews.

Her point is that in fact we can change, but it won't happen overnight; first we have to fake it. If we can use our bodies to convince our minds that we're confident and we belong, no matter what stressful situation we find ourselves in, over time we'll forget that we're faking and we'll end up believing. In Amy's words: 'not fake it till you make it, but fake it till you become it'.

I'm not completely convinced, although there's no arguing with the science - at least not by me! - and Amy Cuddy herself is a pretty inspiring lady (check out her story towards the end of the talk or read her bio). But she does make it sound a little bit too easy. Still, in that case maybe I've nothing to lose by trying it out. Who's with me? ;)

PS A friend recently sent me this cartoon. Maybe there's something in all this after all...?