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Mastering Self-Confidence When Communicating With Senior Leaders

Written by: Stephen Krempl, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Stephen Krempl

Engaging with senior leaders in this high-stakes corporate arena can often feel like navigating a tightrope without a safety net. Despite possessing the right tools, techniques, experience, knowledge, and skills, many individuals are paralyzed in those pivotal moments when seizing opportunities is paramount. It's a scenario we've all encountered in our careers, leaving us with lingering feelings of disappointment, frustration, or untapped potential.

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Have you ever looked back regretfully, wondering why you let a golden opportunity slip through your fingers during a meeting with senior leaders? Perhaps you've felt frustrated when a colleague seemingly stole your idea because you hesitated to speak up first. Or maybe you convinced yourself to wait for the "perfect" moment, justifying that it's not the right time and lost out on your only opportunity that quarter.

In the world of corporate communication, these moments of self-doubt are all too familiar. But fear not; there is a way to conquer this nagging self-sabotage. Enter the "5% Zone" training designed to address this phenomenon head-on.

Recognizing the self-doubt challenge

One of the mindset change sections from our 5% Zone program is aptly named "What is Stopping You?" Here, we delve into the participant's internal obstacles that hinder effective communication with senior leaders and prepare them to overcome their self-imposed limitations.

"Why," you may ask, "do you start with addressing these internal barriers before diving into communication techniques?" The answer is simple: having the right tools alone is not enough. People often resort to "legitimate excuses" and justifications for their inaction, citing unique circumstances, unreasonable bosses, or fear of office gossip.

While valid in some cases, these excuses should not deter you from seizing the opportunity to communicate effectively with senior leaders, at least in the few times you are afforded the chance in a year. Professionals tend to hold back from voicing their ideas and concerns due to internal doubts or perceived bad news that no one wants to hear.

The root of the problem lies in the internal dialogue we engage in when facing senior leaders. We call this internal chatter your "Little Voice," or LV. There are two versions of this Little Voice at play: LV1, the encourager that prompts you to take action, and LV2, the naysayer that floods your mind with reasons to remain silent or, worst still, to be, in some cases, authentically negative.

If you suspect that you have an lv2 problem, here are two strategies to consider

Strategies to overcome self-doubt

Identify Your Favorite Excuse: The first step is pinpointing the excuse or line you repeatedly use to sabotage yourself, especially during those crucial 5% moments. These excuses tend to be consistent and deeply ingrained. Examples: "I don't have enough information to make a good point." This excuse involves constantly feeling unprepared and a perceived lack of knowledge or information, leading to hesitation in sharing ideas or contributing. Another one, "It's not my place to speak." Some individuals may use this excuse to justify staying silent, believing their role or position doesn't warrant contributing to discussions with senior leaders as others are more qualified to contribute than them. The point here is these may be true someone of the time, but you can't say they are always true. Do use them as convenient excuses.

Use a Counter Measure for LV2: To counteract LV2's negative influence, you must develop a cue to control it, paralyzing you. We suggest using the 3Ps: Phrase, Picture, or Physical action. The first P is a simple two or three-word Phrase, like "Just do it," "Let's go," or "I got this," you say to yourself, which can help override the initial negative thought. Alternatively, you can use the second P, which is a motivating Picture, such as an image of yourself conquering a mountain or receiving applause on stage. The third P is a Physical cue, which involves a physical action, like taking a deep breath, clenching your fist, or adjusting your glasses.

Use these cues, individually or in combination, just before stepping into that crucial meeting, asking that pivotal question at a town hall with hundreds of attendees, or presenting a proposal to senior management. Your LV2 may still lurk, but you'll be armed to silence it temporarily, preventing it from talking you out of the valuable opportunity.

Consistency and confidence in action

With these strategies, you can break free from the suffocating grip of self-doubt and hesitation, allowing your true potential to shine in the workplace. Embrace your LV1, and let it guide you toward the success you deserve.

In this dynamic world of corporate communications, self-confidence is often the key that unlocks the doors to success. By recognizing and conquering your inner self-doubt, you can confidently navigate the challenges of engaging with senior leaders and seize the opportunities that await you. So, remember the power of your LV1, and let it propel you toward the professional success you truly deserve!

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Stephen Krempl Brainz Magazine

Stephen Krempl, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Stephen Krempl is an international trainer, global keynote speaker, bestselling author, and corporate communications coach. He has worked with thousands of leaders in over 30+ countries. His career spans 25 years in Fortune 200 companies, Starbucks Coffee Company (CLO), Yum! Brands (VP of Yum University and Global Learning), PepsiCo Restaurants International and Motorola. He helps leaders stand out and get noticed in their corporations even in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. He has authored nine books including his latest, Positively Negative – How To Turn Negative Messages Into Positive Ones.


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