There is a saying that “a photocopy is never the original, regardless of how they both look alike. Lack of identity leads to imitation, and imitation leads to limitation.” This is absolutely true.
In today’s world, each individual needs to possess skills that include both self-confidence and assertiveness. Your level of self-confidence displays in many ways: your behavior, your body language, how you speak, what you say, and so on.
Self-confidence is often the single ingredient that distinguishes a successful person from someone less successful.
Consider the statements below. How do you fare in relation to these, and what is your attitude or reaction in these situations?
- Doing what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticize you for it.
- Taking risks and going the extra mile to achieve better things.
- Staying in your comfort zone to avoid taking risks.
- Admitting your mistakes and learning from them.
- Covering up mistakes and praying that you can fix the problem before anyone is the wiser.
Your reaction to these scenarios can show whether you have low self-confidence or possess self-confidence. For example, in the first scenario, one ought to do what he believes to be right even if mocked by others. That is self-confidence! Do not work hard to cover up your mistakes and pray that no one discovers them. That is characteristic of a person who lacks self-confidence.
If you have low self-confidence, the following tidbits may help to strengthen your confidence:
- Challenge negative thoughts about yourself.
- Challenge excuses.
- Accept yourself.
- Think positively.
- Take responsibility for yourself.
- Learn to deal with failure and rejection.
- Don’t worry about what others think.
Being assertive goes hand in hand with a person who has positive self-confidence. An assertive person possesses these traits:
- Expresses feelings with honesty.
- States views with respect for others.
- Enjoys their rights with integrity, and many more.
Consider this scenario: A friend drops into your office to say hello and catch up on the latest office gossip, but is staying too long, preventing you from finishing an important project. Your friend is unaware that he is interrupting your work. What would you do? Would you:
- Let him stay because you don’t want to upset him? Then you would finish your work at home that evening.
- Tell the person to stop bothering you and to get out?
- Explain your need to finish your work and request he visit another time?
When a person is not being assertive, he or she is either passive or aggressive.
A passive person’s behaviour is characterised by inaction and indecision. People using this style tend to be easy to get along with and pleasant, but unwilling to stand up for their rights, for fear of offending others. They are very uncomfortable expressing anger and usually deny or suppress this feeling should it occur. As a result, resentment can easily build under the surface, producing stress and tension. On the other hand, aggressive individuals are usually suspicious of others and are often on the lookout for infractions or violations of their rights. Thus, the aggressive style produces stress and prohibits the development of close, trusting, and caring interpersonal relationships.
You have a right as a person to say no, make mistakes, consider your needs important, express your feelings appropriately, take responsibility for your actions, and respect yourself.
You simply have to be confident and assertive in today’s world — whether at the workplace, in your school, or even at home. A photocopy can never be the same as the original. Stay positive.
Dr. Pascal Brenya is a training and capacity development expert and the CEO of Focus Central Ghana. He has been the coordinator for the Kufuor Scholars Program–JAK Foundation and a training consultant (facilitator) at GIMPA and YALI. He is a lifetime member of the Millennium Awards Fellowship UK. He received an award for outstanding contributions to life in London–Londoners for London 2002 and was a British Council (UK) Youth Award winner in 2001. Passionate about youth development, he is an adjunct lecturer at GIMPA, Valley View University and Datalink University College. He is a former human resources and training consultant for FAO–United Nations and the British Council. He facilitates training seminars and workshops across Ghana and beyond for corporate executives, students and youth. He has over 13 years’ experience in the corporate world and academia in Ghana and abroad. He holds a Ph.D. in human resources management, an M.Phil. in occupational psychology, an M.B.A. in international marketing and a B.B.A. in accounting and finance from the United Kingdom. You can contact Dr. Brenya via email to learn more.