Boost Your Self-Confidence to Improve Your Persuasive Powers

In the past several posts, I’ve covered the dangers of negative self-talk, the value of self-esteem and the damage caused by cognitive distortions.

Now, it’s time to focus on one last point: The importance of self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their capabilities to perform a particular task, or in their abilities to acquire the necessary skills to perform that task.

Or, as I like to define the term, having the grit, spit and determination to get things done.

Can you make a compelling presentation? Can you calculate internal rate of return and discuss its relevance? Can you demonstrate the perseverance to study for a master’s degree while working full time?

The central figure in the realm of self-efficacy is a psychologist by the name of Albert Bandura, who has contributed to the world of psychology for more than six decades and had this to say about self-efficacy in his seminal paper on the subject, published in 1977:

 We find that people’s beliefs about their efficacy affect the sorts of choices they make in very significant ways. In particular, it affects their levels of motivation and perseverance in the face of obstacles. Most success requires persistent effort, so low self-efficacy becomes a self-limiting process. In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, strung together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.

How can you boost self-efficacy? Here are three ways:

1. Mastery

Do you remember the last time you had to work hard to master a skill? I mean, work really hard? Perhaps it was learning the ins and outs of a complicated computer graphics program or video editing. Maybe you were trying to understand how to create and use spreadsheet formulas or program a database? If you’ve had to really work at something by spending an inordinate amount of time and focused cognitive energy, you’ve undergone a mastery experience. And when you’ve experienced success at doing so by acquiring the necessary skills, you’ve strengthened your self-efficacy.

2. Social Modeling

This is also known as “If he can do it, so can I!” You see someone in your organization (or somebody else’s) that possesses a skill you would like to possess. The fact that you perceive similarities between yourself and that person gives you the belief that you can acquire this ability, too.

3. Social Persuasion

Bandura referred to the fact that individuals can perform up to (or, in some cases, down to) certain expectations. High expectations contribute to high levels of self-efficacy. Think of someone in your organization who is considered by professional peers to be a top performer. Now think of someone who might be perceived as a bit of a slacker. Notice how those people seem to perform like their labels? That’s social persuasion.

Use these tips to boost your own self-efficacy over the next several weeks or months. You’ll be amazed at your newfound persuasive effectiveness.

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