How Much Confidence Do Others Have in You?

July 07 , 2015
by Andi Groomes

Confidence. Business Background.If you’re like most lawyers, you want to project a great image—one that leads others to believe in you as much as you believe in you. But how do you achieve this? Forming a strong personal brand begins with your ability to engender comfort and confidence from others who count: your boss, your practice group leader, your clients; anyone in a position to impact your growth and development. This article is the last in a series dedicated to providing the wisdom and insight needed to clear hurdles that often derail lawyers on the path of success.

One of the most insidious derailers for developing lawyers is the inability to get challenging, experience-broadening work opportunities. Lawyers who generate the highest level of comfort and confidence consistently advance and get new opportunities to expand their expertise. If you are not getting the opportunities you want, you should ask yourself these questions: Do you know where you stand with the most influential partners in your firm? Do you know how your colleagues perceive you? What are they saying about you when you aren’t in the room? If you do not know the answers to these questions, learning them will be the entry point for achieving desirable comfort and confidence, while intentionally shaping your colleagues’ perception of you.

Below are five sure-fire strategies for accelerating you toward the desired outcome.

  1. Eliminate Mystery: It’s rare for any of us to delegate important matters to someone we don’t know or feel comfortable with. This is especially true for minorities operating in a majority environment where implicit bias or predetermined expectations often exist. If advancement is important to you, take responsibility for helping important colleagues know you and a little something about your morals and values. This does not mean sharing your most intimate and private information; share just enough to eliminate the mystery. Selectively prepare stories that reveal the positive sides of yourself to others.
  2. Foster Connection: When building comfort and confidence is your focus, it is not the time to highlight differences, communicate opposing points of view or otherwise exhibit alienating behaviors. I’m not suggesting you should be anyone other than your authentic self, but softening any of your rough edges, looking for commonalities and expressing the importance of team play will help you build connections, especially with those who have the authority to empower your success.
  3. Get Input: Data helps us to understand where what we are doing well and what we need to improve. Unfortunately, it is common in the fast-paced legal environment for substantive, specific and actionable feedback to be in short supply. If you are not getting the feedback you desire, be proactive and try what coaches call “feedforward.” Feedforward has an advantage over feedback because it removes the critical string of having someone review something already completed. Feedforward gives you information about how to improve a specific behavior or work product in the future. A question like “Please share two suggestions for the best ways to strengthen or improve …?” gives you the opportunity to hear suggestions from more experienced professionals without putting your personal work product on the firing line.
  4. The Three C’s = Trust: Becoming a trusted resource for colleagues and clients can be achieved through embracing 3 key elements; Competence, Consistency and Caring. Are you exhibiting all three? In the field of law, competence is assumed and any doubt therein is a career killer. Consistency, or making sure people know what they can expect from you time and time again, must also be established. Caring is just as important. When the safety and security of clients is at stake, they need to understand your commitment and passion for matters that are important to them.
  5. Exhibit Confidence: Have you noticed that we always feel more comfortable with experts (think doctors/surgeons) when they exhibit a reasonable level of confidence? The key is to not act arrogant or over-confident (which can be perceived as dangerous), or act under-confident (which is equally detrimental). Strive to appear quietly confident. Strong eye contact, purposeful movement, firm handshakes and powerful language (“I know” vs. “I think”) go a long way in generating the desired perception.

In future articles, I will delve deeper into some of these 5 strategies to give you specific “how-tos” to build others’ confidence in you. Need to start implementing these strategies sooner? Connect with a coach or mentor, create a plan of action and make it happen!

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