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My boss says I need to speak with greater confidence. What does she mean?

Confident communication is perceived as a sign of strong leadership. If speaking with confidence does not come naturally to you, don't worry. You can learn how. Follow these proven strategies from Dr. Phyllis Mindell - the expert on women communicating with confidence and power.

Five Effective Strategies for Building Confident Communication:

  1. Eradicate the Indecisive "I"

    Avoid the use of the word "I" when making statements in which you are not the subject. It weakens your position. Focus on making the statement about the actual subject. For example:

    • Don't say: I have a problem with a co-worker who does not meet his deadlines.
    • Do say: My co-worker does not meet his deadlines.
  2. Use words that express action rather than emotion.

    Avoid the use of emotion words such as "feel", "like", "want" or "need". Replace them with stronger action words. For example:

    • Don't say: I feel good about this project.
    • Do say: This project promises to cut costs.
    • Don't say: I really like the idea of migrating to a new system.
    • Do say: Migrating to a new system will improve productivity.
  3. You may not feel confident, but attitude will follow behavior.

    Over time, you will internalize and believe the self-assured, confident behaviors that you are projecting. Act confident even if you don’t fully feel it yet.

    Acting confidently becomes self-reinforcing. People see you as confident, they treat you as confident, and you begin to feel more confident.

  4. Choose competence over likeability.

    Your responsibility as a confident leader is to make the tough decision even if they are unpopular. The goal is to have people trust you as a competent leader, not just a friendly leader.

  5. Connecting with people is key to effective communication and leadership.

    There are 4 levels on which to connect with people

    • Connecting visually – look the part of a leader. Sit at the table with confidence. Speak with a confident tone. Keep hand gestures to a minimum.
    • Connecting intellectually – know your subject and know yourself.
    • Connecting emotionally – people hear your words, but they feel your attitude. Go into a situation with a positive attitude, the attitude of a confident leader.
    • Connecting verbally – use the strategies for strong, confident communication that we’ve been working on.
Source: How to Say it for Women: Communicating with Confidence and Power Using Language of Success by Phyllis Mindell, ED.D.

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