How product managers can build authentic confidence
Today we are talking about how to unleash confidence. As product professionals, we need authentic confidence.
Joining us is Dr. Joan Rosenberg, a cutting-edge psychologist known for her work in communication, confidence, resilience, authenticity, and grief. She is frequently sought by media and companies to speak and train on these topics. She is a clinical professor of psychology at Pepperdine University and author of several books including her most recent book, 90 Seconds to a Life You Love: How to Master Your Difficult Feelings to Cultivate Lasting Confidence, Resilience, and Authenticity.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[2:17] How does self-talk impact us?
Negative self-talk comes under the category of harsh self-criticism, which is considerably more damaging than people believe. Most people think harsh self-criticism is equivalent to unpleasant feelings, but it’s not. Unpleasant feelings do nothing to sabotage ourselves, but harsh self-criticism is like dropping 10 or 20 stories in an elevator—it takes you down. Harsh self-criticism is a distraction from unpleasant feelings. We don’t control what we feel, but we do have a lot of control over how we think. When somebody gets upset, they quickly shift to harsh self-criticism, ostensibly to take control of the unpleasant feelings they were feeling.
Harsh self-criticism is damaging and very severe. I think it promotes depression and plays a big role in people’s becoming suicidal. It’s one of the most damaging things people can do. The recommendation I make is to speak and act in the direction you want your results to be—positive not negative.
[6:47] How can we build more authentic confidence?
Building confidence for me came out of two important questions: How does somebody develop confidence? And what makes it difficult for people to deal with unpleasant feelings?
Confidence is the deep sense that you can handle the emotional outcome of whatever you face or want to pursue. It’s not about positive feelings. It’s our ability to tolerate the challenges we face and the feelings that come with that. My focus is on eight unpleasant feelings:
The foundational element to building confidence is to be able to experience and move through unpleasant feelings. The steps to confidence are:
- Experience and handle unpleasant feelings
- Speak up with ease
- Take action
- End harsh self-criticism
- Absorb compliments
[9:52] How do we move through those unpleasant feelings?
Most of us come to know what emotions we’re feeling through bodily sensation—tightness, heat, heaviness, etc. People find it so hard to deal with unpleasant feelings because we don’t want to deal with the bodily sensations. We distract ourselves. Instead, you want to ride the bodily sensation “waves.” When a feeling gets triggered, there is a rush of biochemicals into the bloodstream that activate the bodily sensations, and they flush out of the bloodstream in 90 seconds. If you can just breathe into the process as you’re experiencing a feeling, you can stay present in the feeling and link up your feeling with your thinking to help you make decisions and take action or express yourself so you can make use of the feelings.
When you stub your toe, you’re in pain for a moment. You take a deep breath and hold on to that toe till the pain subsides. Similarly, when you have a quick emotional reaction, if you take some deep breaths, you stay present in the experience, and it’s always going to subside.
[15:46] How do we speak up and express ourselves with ease?
People don’t experience unwavering confidence until they’re able to speak with ease. That means you can say what you to say with whom you need to say it when, where, and how you need to say it. It has to come out in a kind and well-intentioned manner.
Difficulty speaking up is not a speaking problem; it’s a difficulty with unpleasant feelings. When you first start speaking, you’re trying to deal with your own emotional discomfort. Then, you have to be willing to experience the other person’s discomfort. If you don’t handle unpleasant feelings, you’ll have a reluctance to speak up. It’s super important that you understand that your growth and greater ability to speak with ease is going to come the more you develop your capacity to handle unpleasant feelings.
[22:01] How do we take action?
Both in speaking up and in taking action, you’re not confident, and then you do it and become confident. If I want to learn how to play tennis, and other people will be watching, I go play tennis and then develop the confidence. Repeatedly taking action and handling the emotional outcome build confidence.
[23:57] How do we end harsh self-criticism?
Harsh self-criticism is unbelievably damaging, and it’s a distraction from unpleasant feelings. It’s an effort for you to take control of that process. Breathe and be aware of what you’re doing. Make a conscious effort to stop it or go back to what unpleasant feeling prompted you to talk to yourself in that manner. Think about what was hard for you to think, feel, know, or bear that prompted you to beat yourself up. Think, speak, and act in the direction you want your results to be. You don’t want negative results, so you shouldn’t be talking to yourself in a harsh way.
[25:46] How do we absorb compliments instead of deflecting them?
Compliments are like a reflection. When people give you a compliment, they’re holding up a mirror to you, and when you dismiss them, not only are you dismissing the other person’s reality, you’re dismissing your own reality. When you get compliments, especially repeated compliments, and absorb them, you’re leveling up or updating your sense of self-image. If you don’t do that, you stay hooked into the same self-image you have held of yourself.
People tell me they don’t want to get arrogant, but the people who seem arrogant actually feel inadequate or insecure. People who feel good about themselves have no need to tell you.
Many people will think a compliment is insincere if they give insincere compliments. Hear the compliment and trust it is sincere. If you give insincere compliments, stop that practice and say what you really mean.
Action Guide: Put the information Joan shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
“We disappoint our way to success. We don’t succeed alone.” – Dr. Joan Rosenberg
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.