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Build Confidence by Taking A Step Back

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is hire someone to care for my almost two year old son. “Here is the person most important to me in the world. Keep him alive.” I had no idea how difficult it would be to trust a relative stranger so implicitly. And asbuild confidence a result, let’s just say I’ve not been the easiest for a nanny to work with.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I wrote sixteen-pages of instructions of how to take care of my kid. And I gave that ‘booklet’ to a nanny with much more childcare experience than I have. When I work from home and hear my son crying, I tell myself not to walk into the room and check on him, knowing it undermines the nanny, but I do it anyway. When the nanny sends me an update of when my son last ate, I reply telling her when he should eat again, even though I know she knows. Yes, I’ve really been doing these things.

Each time I over instruct, monitor, and advise, I regret it. I know micromanaging the nanny makes me difficult to work with, which is not how I want to be. It reminds me of a comment an old boss said to me after we interviewed a candidate for a job together. He said, “Shari, your job as the interviewer is to make the candidate feel comfortable and ensure she leaves feeling good, regardless of how well or poorly she interviewed.” My face must have said anything but, “I want you to feel comfortable and you’re doing a great job.” His words stuck with me and I’m reminded of them each time I over manage our nanny.

Many people attend training on how to manage others; I’d suggest we also look at how we manage ourselves. How does working with you make people feel? Do your questions, requests, and interactions make people feel more self-confident and valued or do people feel questioned and undermined? Do you pick your battles? Do you give just enough direction but not so much as to squelch the other person’s ideas, initiative and spirit, especially when the stakes are high?

As you know, I’m evaluating how I do these things too. We are always a work in progress.

Here are four ways to build confidence in the people you work with:

Build Confidence 1: Ask people for their ideas and implement those ideas whenever possible. And if you aren’t open to others’ ideas, don’t ask for them. It’s better not to ask for ideas than to ask when you’re really not interested.

Build Confidence 2: Ask for and be open to others’ feedback. People will be more receptive to your feedback when you’re receptive to theirs.

Build Confidence 3: Say “thank you” regularly and mean it. Give specific examples about what you’re thankful for.

Build Confidence 4: Admit when you’re wrong. Strong people admit mistakes, weak people don’t.

People can work with you, around you, and against you. Earn loyalty and respect by respecting others’ talents and knowing when to take a step back.

build confidence

About 

Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at www.candidculture.com.

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4 Responses to “Build Confidence by Taking A Step Back”

  1. Dennis says:

    This post rings very true with me too, thank you. As a manager of several people, it’s nice to be reminded not to ask for someone’s ideas if you’re not interested or are not willing to implement them. I also agree that strong people admit when they make a mistake. I have no problems admitting to my staff when I’ve made a mistake. I also will let them know what I learned from my mistake(s) and ask them how they would have handled it differently. Thank you again, Dennis.

  2. Aishwarya says:

    Hi ,

    I found this blog so correct. I mean i can relate to it and got a good learning as well.

  3. Deanne says:

    Wow! The information about your/our role as interviewer was eye-opening. Thank you for that tidbit.

  4. Lisa says:

    Great lesson. I wanted a team member to keep me in the loop on an assignment (they were still learning and making mistakes). Instead of including me, they left me out; so I kept asking to be cc’ed. I finally accepted that they were leaving me out on purpose so I gave up. Once I made it clear I was stepping back, they shared and I was able to help them avoid a very wrong step.

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