Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

"I'm not confident" - issues in coaching

When people tell me they are not confident I'm never quite sure how to take it. It strikes me that people use this phrase in two very different ways - situationally or personally.

For some it is seems to be simply a shorthand expression that they are moving into new territory in which they can't reliably predict the result - e.g.  "I've never done tight rope walking before so I've no idea whether I'm going to fall or not". Used in this way lack of confidence is a prediction of an uncertain outcome in a new situation, but not of a unwillingness to give it a go anyway. Coaching this group of 'unconfidents' can often be a joy as they expand what they can do by exploring into what they've never done before.

For others, "I'm not confident" is a more blanket assessment which seems to be much more personal and final - e.g. "Don't ask me to tight rope walk - I'm not the sort of person who would ever succeed at that". Used in this way "lack of confidence" is often a defence against tackling things outside the norm, and a prediction of likely failure - self-fulfilling you might argue. Coaching this group can therefore be much more challenging as the badge/label that clients have placed on themselves has first to be dislodged. Much more challenging.

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