4 Ways to Crack the Confidence Code

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The media-borrowing app Hoopla recently recommended I rent an audiobook titled: The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know. So I did and listened to it over the course of a week during my daily runs.

The book boiled down to this: women perform just as well as men in the workplace, but their workplace confidence lags that of men. “Confidence is very simple. It is the stuff that turns thoughts into action,” one of the book’s authors Katty Kay, a news anchor for BBC World News America, told Forbes.

Women, she said, generally underplay their value and contributions. The book chronicles several studies, and the authors interview numerous high-powered, successful women. Each interviewee—ranging from a power forward in the WNBA to the chair of a prominent Chicago law firm—credited her success to “being at the right place at the right time.” According to the authors, men interviewed during prior research never credited their success in that way.

The research reported in the book included one study in which college students with the same majors were asked what they thought their salaries would be five years after graduation. Male students said $80,000 per year; female students said $64,000.

“Our perception of our abilities is skewed low,” Kay told Forbes. “If we can bring our perception of our ability in line with our actual ability, then we have the capacity to be authentic. Then we can accept we are as good as we really are.”

Female planners are just as capable as their male counterparts, but if the doubt facing the women interviewed in the book ever creeps in, Kay recommends the following:

Be authentic. Don’t emulate what seemingly confident men do; be authentic. It’s hard to be confident when you’re not being yourself, according to Kay. Don’t put too much pressure on perfection.

Get comfortable with making mistakes sometimes. This also comes in handy with your clients. Remember that growth rarely happens outside our comfort zones. This made me realize that some of my life’s proudest moments came after intense hard work, many, many mistakes and bouts of discomfort.

Don’t downplay your achievements. You aced your CFP® certification exam? You’re earning your Ph.D.? You started your own firm in your 30s? Don’t downplay anything you’ve done.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve. The book reported men negotiate their salaries more frequently than women and ask for 30 percent more when they do. Ask for what you deserve.

As women, we’re already up against a pay gap, let’s not let a lack of confidence be another barrier for us.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.


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