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10 Traits of a Positive Thinker: #6 CONFIDENCE


Confidence is one of ten traits exhibited by positive thinkers, as listed by positive psychology author Scott Ventrella, and the 6th one in our 10-part seriesThe others are the following:  1. Optimism, 2. Enthusiasm, 3. Belief, 4. Integrity, 5. Courage, 6. Confidence, 7. Determination, 8. Patience, 9. Calmness, 10. Focus.

This blog addresses Confidence in Leadership.  If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you may be a leader who demonstrates confidence in the workplace…

  • Do I “look inside my own memory” and retrieve evidence that will only encourage me to move forward with my action planning?
  • Am I aware of the difference between confidence and arrogance/hubris?
  • Are the goals I pursue in alignment with my values?
  • Do I ensure that fear &/or feelings of inferiority don’t drive my actions?
  • Am I comfortable with my decisions, knowing that there are those who oppose my judgment?

Confidence comes from the Latin fidere, meaning “with trust.”  Self-confident people inspire trust and influence others in the process of exuding confidence, this is the core of any business transaction and solid relationship.   Low self-confidence is self-destructive and usually manifests itself as negativity.  People with high self-confidence are usually positive thinkers.  And, those who project confidence and hold a negative perspective are most probably overcompensating for an inferiority complex that exhibits signs of superiority; or vice versa, a superiority complex that exhibits signs of inferiority from time to time.  This is where Belief (positive trait #3) overlaps with Confidence…Wikipedia: “Belief in one’s abilities to perform an activity comes through successful experience and may add to, or consolidate, a general sense of self-confidence.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, includes self-confidence as one of the three hallmarks of self-awareness – along with a realistic self-assessment, and a self-deprecating sense of humor.

Here are some other ways to recognize whether you &/or your peers have been demonstrating signs of self-confidence, or the lack thereof:


Low Self-Confidence

Adhering to your values/beliefs, despite possible criticism(s).  E.g. “This strategy requires further exploration, because it sounds more like self-promotion than a strategy.” Governing your behavior based on what other people think.  This is sheep-mentality.  E.g. “This strategy came from the CEO, so we are good to go by following it!”
Takes risks, and knows when to not be so accommodating. Stays in comfort zone, fears failure, and so avoids taking risks and taking charge of situations where s/he needs to assume control.
Admits mistakes, and learns from them.  E.g. “Yes, I have grown in my position and realize that I have to overcome personality conflicts and have learned to respond as an adult professional.” Denies mistakes, and/or attempts to fix them before anyone notices.  E.g. “I do not know what you’re talking about!  I did not say that!  I don’t know anything about that former employee asking for his job back!”
Demonstrates self-assertiveness by sharing feelings/thoughts. E.g. “I am concerned that your presentation is half an hour over the time limit, which will prevent us from discussing all topics.” Holds resentment and anger against others for days/weeks or longer while practicing victim-speak.  E.g. “You made me angry, because you were so rude to interrupt my presentation last week before I had a chance to finish!”
Accepts compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that program/project.  I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.” Dismisses compliments offhandedly. “Oh, that was nothing.  YOU are the one who can teach me what I need to know!”
Realizes that others are entitled to their opinions.  They appreciate the diversity of thought, and recognize that it can stand alone, even if it vastly differs from their own.  Seeks out relevance to work-related issues.  E.g. “You thought it was great; I didn’t.” Feels threatened by others’ opinions and takes them personally, even if they are not work-related, &/or criticizes behavior irrelevant to work.  E.g. “When you mentioned the chicken was not ‘authentically Mexican’ at our off-site lunch last week, I took it as a sign of arrogance that you are well-traveled.”
Good is good enough…for now.  There is a constant strive for excellence, yet recognizing we all have to start somewhere!  E.g. “You did exceedingly well, and for these reasons (x, y, z)…now here’s where we can go with it (a, b, c)!” Hyper-stresses perfectionism, as opposed to high quality, as the only option.  Even though all indicators show success, there is extreme dissatisfaction.  E.g. “You can’t just start down here (lowered hand), you need to start up here (raised hand).” (disgruntled body language)

Power Posing

While positive psychology theologian Norman Vincent Peale referred to the “as-if” psychology as one way to increase our confidence, social psychologist and Harvard professor Amy Cuddy agrees that we can “fake it ’til we make it.” She calls the ability to increase self-confidence through body language “power posing.”  She claims that if we hold the “V” posture (arms raised upwards) for as little as two minutes, we can perform better in job interviews, cope better in other stressful situations, and take more risks confidently.

This research isn’t new since we already have established as scientific fact the discovery of the Duchenne smile, named after 19th century French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne (de Boulogne) – who found that there are different facial muscles which can produce a genuine smile versus the muscles that offer a fake smile.  However, Duchenne found that either smile (genuine or fake) can lead to an improvement in morale.  Likewise, Cuddy found that “power posing” can adjust testosterone and cortisol levels and trick the brain into producing healthier FEELINGS and behaviors (ACTIONS).

Trust in others; start with yourself.  Strike a pose.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator. 


Amy Cuddy, Ph.D.

Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. Emotional Intelligence (New York, NY: Bantam), 1995.

Norman Vincent Peale, D.D. Why Some Positive Thinkers Get Powerful Results, 1986.

Scott Ventrella, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business (New York, NY: Fireside), 2001.

©Rossina Gil, 2013