The following is part three of my blog regarding women and finance.  And once again, please do not be offended that I am blogging about women while I am a man.  Just keep in mind the thought when I reference men, think cavemen, we have issues too.

Back to the blog.

Another cause of women’s lack of confidence is due to a combination of many things in addition to perfectionism.  Basically, women are wired for overthinking.  Due to what Shipman calls a “Messy stew of hormones and neural activity” decision making is slowed down.

Where men have testosterone which promotes competitiveness, risk taking and demonstrations of power.

Women on the other hand have a large supply of estrogen which fosters social skills, bonding, risk and conflict avoidance.  Women are genetically wired to not take chances that could create conflict or put them in danger.

In addition, women have more “white matter” as a portion of their brain which is needed for integrating information, processing their thoughts.  Men, on the other hand, and think in caveman terms, have more “gray matter” needed for taking action to fight off threats.

Confidence is a critical work place skill.  Lack of confidence can be fixed even late in life.  There is much that can be done about it.  Shipman believes that the cornerstone for women is learning to risk and fail, and jettisoning perfectionism.

The following are suggestions from Katty Kay and Claire Shipman the authors of “The Confidence Code”.

  1. Don’t keep tinkering with things to make them perfect. It is often better to make a decision with the available information so you can keep moving forward. Sometimes you may be wrong, but by “failing fast”, you will cut the time spent going down blind alleys.
  2. Get outside your comfort zone. Try something you thought you’d never be good at: public speaking, coaching kids’ soccer, understanding Keynesian economics.  What does not kill you makes you stronger.
  3. Be willing to be different. Women often try too hard to please everyone. Michael Nannes, chairman of national law firm Dickstein Shapiro, advised that a woman in the midst of a male-dominated conversation should “speak with authority” and “make a point of having a different point of view”.
  4. Don’t automatically blame yourself for setbacks. “Internal attribution” of blame can keep you stewing endlessly over a mishap. “External attribution,” favored by most men, shifts more of the responsibility to forces beyond your control, allowing you to let go and move on.
  5. Take credit for what you have achieved. Instead of modestly brushing off a compliment, accept it and let it give you confidence for the next step.
  6. Handle criticism by mentally converting it to a comment you can use. For example, you could respond to a negative comment that your presentation went on too long by saying, “Thank you. Next time I won’t try to cover so many bases at once.”
  7. Kill negative automatic thoughts. Kay and Shipman suggest swatting this crippling self-talk (“I’m not valuable enough for the boss to give me a raise”) by writing it down as it occurs, then throwing the paper away.
  8. Shy about putting yourself forward? Think “we” instead of “me.” This can work well for women who hate to deliver a talk or even speak up in a meeting.  Envision yourself as the representative of your entire team or a group of people like yourself, and speak on their behalf.
  9. Keep your bosses posted on your achievements. It is very possible that they are too busy to notice the terrific job you are doing. If you want a raise or more responsibility, step up and make the case for it.  Nobody else will toot your horn if you don’t.
  10. Banish “upspeak.” That is when you talk like this? Because you do not want ot offend or antagonize anyone?  The late Christopher Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, used to tell students, “Say it with confidence, because if you don’t sound confident, why will anyone believe what you say?”
  11. Accept that you are not perfect. It is exhausting – and impossible – to pretend to be infallible. But take care not to put down your own abilities (“I’m so disorganized” or “Oh, somehow I scraped by way through Yale.”).
  12. Be yourself. Trust your instincts. Use your innate ability to build connections and consensus, but do not be intimidated out of something you believe in.

As Shipman and Kay conclude:  “Think less.  Take action.  Be authentic.”

I hope you have found this information helpful.


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