The Confidence Game: How Different Types of Communication Can Affect Confidence
We all know the saying, "communication is key." But what does that really mean? When it comes to confidence, communication takes on a whole new meaning. Let's explore how different types of communication can affect confidence, and why improving communication also improves confidence.
If you are leading others - your kids, your employees, any audience really, -it all starts with strong self-leadership and understanding different communication filters.
What types of communication styles are there?
Let's break it down into verbal, nonverbal, bio, and digital (which are nonverbal, but deserve to be called out in their own way).
Verbal communication is what we say out loud, including tone while nonverbal communication is everything else we communicate through body language and our environment. Next up is digital communication - texts/emojis/emails - written form. Finally, there's hormonal health or bio communication which plays a big role in our mindset and confidence levels, especially as we age, and it tends to impact us right when we are hitting business or career milestones.
Yaaaay! Said. No. One. Ever!!
The good news is, once there is awareness, there is a choice in how to manage impacts because all of these factors can affect our confidence in different ways. I'll weave in some personal examples to help
At the root of our communication styles are our core values and beliefs
Core Values and Beliefs are underpinned by our biochemistry, culture, and environment.
Core Values are the things that we hold dear, and they shape how we see the world around us. Our beliefs guide our decision-making, so it's important to be aware of them. If we're not confident in our beliefs, it can be difficult to communicate with others about them.
Often when I am working with clients, things go a little wobbly when they are out of alignment with healthy core values. For example, they may be carrying a definition of harmony that includes avoiding conflict, or a definition of work ethic that means hard work equals more money, which is not always true.
Getting to a healthy and confident level of communication requires looking at how the belief formed in the first place and understanding the story behind who planted and who grew it.
I use a framework in The Words The Caterpillar Ate called the 7Fs to deconstruct values and beliefs before we reconstruct them.
Then, strong self-leadership can come into play, and set us up for success and prosperity and increased worth in ourselves and our work.
We need to be confident in our own beliefs (clear and positive) before we can communicate them effectively to others, and understand how someone else will filter.
This includes everything from our body language to the way we dress and carry ourselves, the state of our environments, color, and imagery.
Our nonverbal cues relay a lot of information about how we're feeling, so it's important to be aware of them. If we're not confident in ourselves, our nonverbal cues will reflect that. When we feel either insecure, or sensory or emotional overload, we may avoid eye contact, slouch, or fidget.
On the other hand, if we're confident and comfortable in ourselves, we'll stand tall, seek connection, and exude calmness and composure.
Let me share how I ended up doing something that mortified my dad, and pleased my mother which was related to non-verbal communication.
I took my 17-year-old self off and learned how to strike a pose. That's right. I went to learn how to model.
Throughout high school, I was taller than my friends. Taller than the boys, and called names like giraffe, lanky long legs, or sticks mostly by secondary family members.
As a result, I would hunch my shoulders, and try to make myself look smaller in order to fit in. Flat shoes, trying to maintain a really low weight - anything to be smaller - something I had connected to feeling feminine which I longed for, especially after being mistaken for a boy as a little girl thanks to a bad haircut and adventurous tree-climbing nature - a definition that now looks different. (I still climb trees, for the record).
This was at odds with me at home, who was all for speaking her mind, standing up for what I believed to be right, and certainly not afraid of a good verbal debate.
But because I didn't want to end up all hunched over, I took myself off to modeling and learned how to walk. My dad was mortified as his definition of his daughter got jolted from an image of someone holding a teddy bear, to a young woman dressed in a black bodysuit working on a "vogue face" camera pose and pout.
My mother was finally happy that I was not slouching.
I did it more for self-confidence than anything else, because clearly, I haven't ended up a famous supermodel (but hey, never know what my career in 10 years might be).
Those lessons served me well in speaking engagements, and the multitude of in-person workshops I facilitated helping women build their self-belief and launch and grow businesses.
And yes, if I donned a pair of heels, some would find it intimidating, but that was about their perceptions, not me.
Body posturing is amazing for upping your communication game. I'd highly recommend check out Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk here.
This is what we say out loud, and it's often the most direct form of communication. It also has a massive impact on how we filter words, and can be tied to old messaging around "children should be seen and not heard", or "talks too much" in school (like being social is a bad thing).
When we're not confident in ourselves, we might hesitate when speaking. We might also speak too softly or use fillers like "um" or "like" too often. On the other hand, when we're confident, we speak with certainty and authority. We make clear points and articulate our thoughts and our values well. Preparation can help here, especially if you are leading change, speaking publicly, or navigating conflict.
When we feel confident in our skills, our skin, and our stories, we don't second guess ourselves and speak from our hearts and our minds, fully aware of intent and impact.
Books, blogs, emails, texts, emojis where we are reducing the amount of communication points someone has to seek understanding. The beauty of written communication is you can edit it before sending it.
With the rise of AI to analyze opportunities corporately, consideration of what and how we write can play an important role, and while I love technology, I really am not for outsourcing humanity's need to think critically.
Tone can be misconstrued, intent can be lost, and someone who has a more factual style can at times come across as impersonal, blunt, and boring, whereas they may just be keeping a message tight and time-focused. AI might like this. Employees and clients may not.
If you're a thought leader, author, boss, or coach, understanding the languaging of your audience is really important here, so check for words you use to see if you cover the different learning styles of your ideal audience.
Finally, there's bio-communication.
This refers to the hormones that influence our mood and energy levels. For women going through perimenopause, fluctuating hormone levels can impact confidence levels in a big way. Estrogen plays a big role in regulating mood and cognitive function, so when levels dip during perimenopause, it's not uncommon for women to experience brain fog, irritability, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
If you couple this with low iron, and low vitamin D, all of a sudden "mindset is everything" goes out the window.
Your natural happy, positive communication style may shift to "I'll rip your heads off if you so much as open the fridge door." The ability to think clearly can have you second-guessing your abilities as a leader, friend, employee, partner, or parent.
That's why it's so important to take care of your hormonal health during this time—it can make a big difference in your mindset and confidence levels!
You may even change the way you work and communicate to manage this.
I, for example, have a self-imposed time out where I know my tolerance for background noise is lower than normal, and I take full advantage of noise-canceling headphones to boost my ability to concentrate.
So there you have it.
There are many different types of communication that can affect confidence levels—from core values and beliefs to nonverbal cues and hormonal health. Strong self-leadership is essential for effectively communicating these things to others. Fortunately, improving communication also improves confidence! By taking care of your hormonal health, being aware of your nonverbal cues,and practicing strong self-leadership, you can increase your confidence levels and improve your communication skills at the same time!
Let me know in the comments below which communication style - verbal, nonverbal, written or biofeedback you feel is your strongest & where you use it most.
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