As pressures to earn money increase, the pressures to work harder, smarter and faster increase also. It is rarely a surprise to me to have clients who are struggling with their levels of confidence despite having what could be perceived as very successful lives. Solicitors, CEO’s and managing directors have regularly graced my doorstep, feeling that they are unable to measure up to the aggressive demands placed upon them. Many who are in powerful roles find that they are simply crumbling under the strain. They have been educated at the very best universities and colleges, obtaining firsts in their degrees, withstood enormous pressure during exams and completing coursework, and then later discover that they have never learnt how to be confident or how to assert themselves. The negative self defeating thoughts begin and slowly but surely the problem begins to spiral.

The steps I take with a client with confidence problems are generally similar- there is information they can all benefit from knowing about. The NLP communication model is always a great starting point as I usually find that there is some negative self talk or disempowering “movies” that the client runs in their mind.

I also talk to them about creating and building rapport, so that in situations where they need to be confident, they are first comfortable that they have a connection with those that they are communicating with. Confidence tends to be less of an issue with those who do not have to communicate with others; it is generally the communication itself that shows up the confidence issues. I always have them guess the most powerful way in which they communicate- is it in the words they use, their tone of voice or their physiology? Many of them are startled by the results of how people communicate in congruence with each other. At this point the mind and body link become apparent. They begin to realise what signals other have been picking up from them and how their thoughts have had a negative effect on the way that they are feeling. I might give some information about sensory predicates and how we live in sensory systems. This can be beneficial to know because again, the client will feel more comfortable and confident if they know how to communicate with other by “speaking in the language” that the listener likes to hear.

During the consultation, I am obviously asking lots of questions, and during this time, I have a great opportunity to observe how this person who lacks confidence is using their body. If I find that they are slumped in the chair, shallow breathing, looking down, then later, I will point this out to them. I will begin to shape their physiology into that of someone who is confident. Then I will introduce them to the Satir categories- a set of “personality types” identified by family therapist Virginia Satir, and have them try out the different physiologies that go with these. What they will notice is that by trying out the physiology, their energy shifts into the emotions and feeling associated with that physiology. They can then begin to practice communicating in the more powerful physiologies to get their bodies and mind better aligned to powerful and confident feelings. I often notice that people, who are not in a confident zone, have their bodies in a “placator” physiology. This gives off signals such as “I don’t know” or “I’m sorry” and “I can’t help it.”And their energy will be here too.

These are the basics that I always cover, and there are many other NLP techniques to advance the clients confidence further. A Swish Pattern for example, will deal with confidence issues that occur in a specific context, a New Orleans flexibility Drill can help overcome anxieties related to a particular person and a resource anchor can give a much needed boost of positive emotions that can be triggered whenever the client wants to tap into them.

“I have found myself getting less worked up and am therefore more confiden.”

By Gemma Bailey

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