Self Esteem, Self Confidence, Assertiveness. What are they? Do you have them? Are they important?

Today I tweeted and asked what is the difference between self esteem, self confidence and assertiveness.  These are key attributes that everyone needs in order to feel positive about themselves and to allow you to establish and maintain good working relationships with others, regardless of whether these are business or personal relationships.

Self esteem is “a realistic respect for, or favourable impression of oneself, or self-respect” , and at times could be “an inordinately or exaggeratedly favourable impression of oneself” @Dictionary.com. 

Do you have a healthy respect for yourself?  Do you recognise your favourable qualities?  If you do, you can refer to these qualities when you are feeling low, rejected or when someone has made a negative comment about you.  The problem occurs if you have a negative self-image and so low self esteem.   If you think you’re unattractive, too fat, too thin, aren’t very clever etc, then you have no positive reserves to fall back on, and this can stop you taking risks or pushing yourself forward, whether in a job or a relationship.

In my career of teaching, training and coaching, I have used an idea of Jenny Mosley’s (Quality Circle Time), to get people to really think about how they see themselves.  Take a moment now, and think of all the positive things about you and imagine each one as a gold coin.  Do you have a hefty pile in your hand or only one or two to fall back on. If the latter is the case, why would you take a risk and possibly fail?  All it would do, is confirm that you were unattractive, s/he wouldn’t like you etc.  If it was the former, then you would most probably say oh well, it was worth a try and dust yourself off and move on! 

Self confidence is “realistic confidence in one’s own judgement, ability, power etc” or “an excessive or inflated confidence ” in oneself @Dictionary.com.  I was discussing the ability to come across as confident, yet still have low self esteem, and low self-confidence in some areas of life, with a group of people the other day, and each outlined an area where they felt they wouldn’t succeed in, including having an intimate relationship with someone.  From an outsiders’ perspective, these women appeared confident and assertive in their ability to take on challenges, most had well paid jobs, and made sound judgements regarding work and areas of their personal life.  However, each was quick to point out that “I’ve never been very good at…”, or “I can’t…”.  and quickly became irritated or despondent when questioned further and encouraged to see beyond this potential stumbling block.  You may have low self esteem in the area of relationships, but be very self confident in other things such as your ability to organise a house move, or to negotiate the best price when buying a new car.  You KNOW and TRUST in your ability and judgment in these areas, and will appear confident to others and they will assume this confidence applies to all areas of your life.  Where are you less confident?  Do others know about this?  If not, how do you mask it and is it to your detriment?

Assertiveness focuses on your actions, words and interaction with another person. Do others see you as confident, self-assured, or bordering on being aggressive.  There is a fine line between assertiveness and aggression and often it is down to the other person’s perception of you as to which type of behaviour they think they have seen.  It is very subjective and is a key skill that can be taught and is often a component of company management training programmes, as well as individual coaching. 

Assertiveness is knowing your rights and responsibilities and standing up for them.  This means understanding the potential consequences of your actions, and in my next blog, I will explore some of the rights and responsibilities we all have. Crucially, assertiveness is also about understanding that other people have rights and making sure you don’t violate those.

What’s your USP?

In the world of business and marketing, understanding and highlighting your Unique Selling Point (USP) is crucial in getting you ahead of the pack. I’ve been looking at this aspect for my own business branding and new website (soon to be unveiled), and began to think about how individuals advertise their uniqueness when developing personal relationships with others, such as friendships and dating? How do we discover we have things in common with potential new friends? How do we sift through other people’s characteristics to match our own needs when dating, or do we just look at the photo? How much do we use our USP to draw the people we want towards us?

In today’s world where communication has to be fast and instant, email, text, twitter etc have largely taken over from face-to-face communication, and often by the time we actually meet someone, we have already formed an opinion of them, including whether we like them or not. On the surface, this is ridiculous that we can judge someone through a badly worded or blunt email or blurb on a website. This happens though, due to our emotional response to what they are saying or their photo. What is your gut feeling? Do you take a chance on meeting someone or developing a friendship or relationship if the ten or twenty seconds you have spent reading their communication has put you off? Generally the answer is no. We are living a larger and faster version of Britain’s Got Talent, in which we can parade a selection of potential friendships or partners on our iPad screens daily and can ditch twenty or thirty applicants in a couple of minutes, job done!

If this is resonating with you, what happens if you are on the other side of the iPad screen? What are you offering to stop someone else passing you over? A number of websites offer advice on how to set up your profile and outline your interests in such a way as to match you with others who could or should value the same things as you. The key thing is what makes you different to the others out there who are competing in the same market? What is your USP and how do you get it across to others?

Just a mum?

I was reading an article yesterday in the YOU magazine by Julia Restoin Rotfield, where she gives advice “to women who don’t want to suddenly become “just mums”, and I was wondering what happened to the women who do want to only be parents and whether they saw the “just” as a negative?

From chatting to my friends and from my own experience I felt under pressure to stay in the work loop and fit my child into my hectic schedule and as I was a self-employed professional development coach and trainer, was anxious that I could be out of the game for too long. However, I didn’t really know how long was too long!

I envied my friends who had become “just mums”, through what seemed like long periods of maternity leave or those who seemed able to afford to give up work and also those who were completely fulfilled from simply having this tiny baby in their lives. I felt anxious and confused about how to split my roles of mother, wife and self employed business consultant, whilst begrudging not having ‘me’ time as well. As an older mother, I also felt that I had to prove it all could be done, with both panache and style and with as little dribble as possible. Looking back it was a hell of a first year.

Friends who were full time mothers described it as a lifetime choice or career change, and I loved these exprssions. There is no “just” about being a parent, it is THE full time job, with unsocial hours, conflicts and unexpected events happening, as well as all the joy of seeing each new stage of development, without having one eye on emails. Sometimes I wish I had made that choice and dammed the consequences!

Emotional overload

My stomach was churning this morning, as I hadn’t worked in London for a couple of months and had got out of the habit of the daily commute. Trying to get the timing right, park the car, buy the ticket and literally get on the train with a minute to spare! I had a new group of people to train, plus an unknown venue and felt pressurised to arrive cool, calm and collected. Almost as if I had willed it, events began to unravel. No paperwork had been prepared for me, so I was unable to get past security. My phone had no signal and so I couldn’t get my work contact’s’ details, and time was ticking by to the start of my training.

This anxiety is natural and usual for most of us.  The difference is how we, as individuals, deal with it.  For me, I had to assess the practical options as the course time was drawing nearer, and although everyone was being as helpful as possible, I still wasn’t any nearer setting up for my course!   I had to let go of the feelings of anxiety and tension and accept the reality of the situation,, as well as quickly come up with a fall back plan!  It’s about acknowledging these feelings but then moving from this emotional state to being pro-active and dealing with each obstacle rather then feeling ‘stuck’ and unable to cope.  what do you do?  I loved reading in the Metro today, that Rihanna used coaching to boost her self confidence before meeting her public.  it happens to us all.

 

Nerves happen to everyone

My stomach was churning this morning, as I hadn’t worked in London for a couple of months and had got out of the habit of the daily commute. Trying to get the timing right, park the car, buy the ticket and literally get on the train with a minute to spare! I had a new group of people to train, plus an unknown venue and felt pressurised to arrive cool, calm and collected. Almost as if I had willed it, events began to unravel. No paperwork had been prepared for me, so I was unable to get past security. My phone had no signal and so I couldn’t get my work contact’s’ details, and time was ticking by to the start of my training.

This anxiety is natural and usual for most of us.  The difference is how we, as individuals, deal with it.  For me, I had to assess the practical options as the course time was drawing nearer, and although everyone was being as helpful as possible, I still wasn’t any nearer setting up for my course!   I had to let go of the feelings of anxiety and tension and accept the reality of the situation,, as well as quickly come up with a fall back plan!  It’s about acknowledging these feelings but then moving from this emotional state to being pro-active and dealing with each obstacle rather then feeling ‘stuck’ and unable to cope.  what do you do?  I loved reading in the Metro today, that Rihanna used coaching to boost her self confidence before meeting her public.  it happens to us all.

 

Notes from a party

How awkward is it walking into a party as a couple when you don’t know many people? Do you smile manically at anyone looking your way,or ignore everyone and begin an animated conversation between yourselves and make it appear interesting to anyone looking your way? How much more difficult is it if you go to the party alone?

Emotionally lost in Wonderland

In the story of Alice in Wonderland, Alice asked the cat “which way” she should go, and he replied that it depended “a good deal on where you want to get to”.  When you think about dating, do you have an end goal?  Do you see yourself as just meeting someone half decent, or are you clear on age, financial security, interests, geographical area, job etc. A third alternative is simply going through the motions of preparing for dating, but having no real belief that it will work for you.

Is it better to be open to suggestion like Alice or having your sights firmly set on your ideal man or woman?.  Are you guided to what  you want, by the questions asked by dating websites, agencies, questionnaires, friends suggestions or trends?  Or do you create a façade, as you don’t believe you’ll really get who you want, if you act as yourself and tell the boring truth?  

The Cat tells Alice that if she doesn’t much care where she gets to, then it wouldn’t matter what way she went, because she’d get somewhere in the end, if only she walked “long enough”.  Are you still walking and looking for  the right person for you?  Whichever is the method you choose is fine, as long as you are honest with yourself about who you are, your strengths and faults and be proud of the person you are, warts and all!