Confidence: Are You on Your Case or on Your Side?
Is your critic controlling your self-evaluations?
Posted May 24, 2013
Turn your Beatings into Learnings
The main question people have after they understand the value of Emotional Intelligence is: How do I raise EI for myself and others? Here I will explore one competency called Confidence, Self-Regard or Self-Esteem and one strategy to raise it.
Andrea was an executive in an agency and constantly felt she was behind in everything she was doing—emails went unanswered, voicemails were not returned, one-on-ones with staff were cancelled or rescheduled. Her evaluation system was harsh and unforgiving in spite of many of the positive things she was initiating at the agency. Andrea often spent her first moments with an employee apologizing for something she had failed to get around to. Her confidence was affected and her negative self-evaluation started to influence others. Perhaps she wasn’t as competent as they had thought she was?
In one of our coaching sessions, Andrea achieved a breakthrough when I pointed out that she had apologized three times in 30 minutes. It was obvious she was overly critical of herself. She became painfully aware of how automatic this evaluation system was and, more importantly, recognized that it was quite possibly inaccurate. Andrea also became aware of how pervasive this pattern was in all of her interactions and that it undermined her leadership abilities as well.
The Coach’s Corner: Strategies for Self-Confidence
Below is just one of the 10 proven strategies on Confidence in Leading with Emotional Intelligence you can use to improve your confidence. Confidence is the fuel to take risks, try new things, and make the micro-initiatives necessary to become a star. As you read through this strategy, be aware of what you are already doing and what actions you could do more of.
What Is Self-Confidence?
Confidence is knowing one’s own abilities and having enough faith in them to make sound decisions in the face of uncertainty and pressure. A confident leader exudes a strong self-presentation and expresses himself or herself in an assured, impressive, and unhesitating manner. The confident leader will take on new challenges and hold on to his or her view, even if others disagree. (Goleman, 1998)
Being on Your Case vs. Being on Your Side
Many leaders have “faulty evaluation systems.” They are rarely satisfied when successful and are overly critical of their performance even if they win and win big. This can become a rigid pattern. In the past it may have driven them to great successes, but over time it can become a burden. They tend to continually try harder and often fall short in their own eyes. These leaders will readily admit that they are hard on themselves, but they believe it is the only way to push themselves to their best performances. It is as if they have a calculator that is defective, but they do not realize it is always off one digit. When evaluating themselves, the calculator should read 1,000, but instead it reads 100. They get upset about the reading, but don’t realize their evaluation system is faulty or broken.
There are three major unintended consequences of Being on Your Case rather than Being on Your Side:
1) These leaders are never satisfied with their performance, and their self-confidence is affected.
2) Because everything seems to be less than they had hoped, they are miserable, tense, and unhappy.
3) Unconsciously they treat others the same way they treat themselves—overly critical, picky, negative, and never satisfied.
They become the leader people don’t want to work for and avoid.
Most leaders who are hard on themselves are blindsided to the problems inherent in their leadership style. Sometimes they require strong language to alert them to the serious impact this kind of pattern has on their ultimate performance and well-being. If you recognize yourself in the above profile, answer a simple question: What percentage of the time are you on your case instead of on your side? Use a scale of 1-100. You can tell if you or others have a faulty evaluation system if after every performance, you establish that you should have had:
- Better effort
- Higher quality
- Faster delivery
The manifestation of this kind of attitude is typically feeling scolded by yourself for failing to live up to your abilities. It’s almost like you take out your whip and begin snapping yourself into shape. You may even say or think: “How could I be so stupid? When am I going to finally learn? What is wrong with me?” More, better, faster, more, better, faster…becomes an automatic negative self-evaluation system.
Changing our self-evaluation greatly improves how confident we feel and allows us greater awareness of how we evaluate others.
The best way to change from Being on Your Case to Being on Your Side is first to notice how you behave and then turn the evaluation into a learning and action plan. Below are some examples of whipping statements and statements that will help you redirect yourself to Being on Your Side.
“On Your Case” Whipping
- How could I be so lame?
- Don’t I know better than this?
- I’m an idiot for doing this!
- Why didn’t I start this sooner?
- I could have done a much better job!
- What is wrong with me?
- I should have known better!
“On Your Side” (Phrases that redirect your habit into a learning)
- Which parts of this performance went well?
- What didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to?
- What exactly didn’t work out here?
- Which part is under my influence?
- Is there anything I could have done differently?
- What will I have to do to accept this performance and not beat myself up?
- What can I learn from this performance?
- What will I have to improve next time?
- Is there any learning, training, or help I need to improve my performance?
- What will be my next step?
- How will I make sure I stay on track?
Notice the quality of the statements above and their effect on you. It is important to first acknowledge what went well, in order to establish the proper perspective in your evaluation and curtail the “more, better, faster” pattern.
This chart shows the difference between the two self-evaluations.
On Your Case: Quality: Demanding, Damaging, Irrational, Over-generalized
Results: Dissatisfied, Less Confident, Overwhelmed
On Your Side: Quality: Respectful, Constructive, Rational, Realistic
Results: Encouraged, Action plan for the future, Energized
Questions and Action Applications:
- Circle the terms you experienced as a result of your self-evaluation.
- How accurate is your evaluation system?
- On a scale of 1-100, what percentage of the time are you on your case?
- How do you feel after you’ve been on your case?
- What are the consequences for you and others for being on your case?
- Do you treat others as harshly as you do yourself?
- Is this an effective pattern for you to continue with?
- If you don’t change this, what do you stand to lose or miss out on?
- Keep track of the times you have stopped being on your case and then redirected to being on your side.
- What is most difficult about being on your side?
- What helps you to be on your side?
- Keep track in your planner of the percentage of time you are on your side each day, 1-100 and track you subtle progress to being more on your side.
You won’t stop being on your case but you will catch it sooner and redirect it faster with the result having a more accurate assessment of yourself.