What better way is there to build your confidence and increase your odds of success than by being prepared?
I took piano lessons when I was younger, and my teacher could usually tell how much I had practiced during the previous week simply by observing my progress (or lack thereof). My preparedness showed clearly through my performance and confidence.
Whether your task is a job interview, a negotiation, a job switch, or anything else that’s new or involves uncertainty; you can prepare by thinking through your scenario in advance.
For example, if you are preparing to negotiate, you need to be armed with the facts of the situation and demonstrate a thorough, confident, and conversant command of every relevant factor. You need to be able to immediately spot and correct errors of fact or perception before the conversation starts to be built upon faulty foundations.
Consider laying out various scenarios within the realm of reasonableness — from best case for you to best case for the other side. If you can demonstrate a command of the facts, you can be more confident and prepared for the tricks that the other side might throw at you.
Take some time beforehand and discipline yourself to think through what you might face:
- What might the other side say?
- What will their talking points be?
- How will they try to divert the discussion from a focus on your legitimate interests?
- What is their best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA)?
- What illusions might they have that you can dispel such that they view the situation more realistically?
- How will they respond to your talking points?
- What is your end game, and what happens if you cannot get them to play ball?
Work through a systematic process of thoroughly considering these and other related questions. You will no doubt encounter surprises in any new or uncertain situation, and you might have to scrap all your plans in the midst of the process. The point of preparation is to start off with the confidence you need to carry you through the twists and turns, ups and downs.
I have found that confidence grounded in reality helps me stay focused. It is so easy to get thrown off track when unpreparedness leads to confusion and lack of confidence. I have never been one to easily “fake it until I make it” since that often borders on unethical conduct (i.e., lying or acting confident even when incompetent) and can easily lead to loss of credibility when the “faking” is exposed.
I can convert the challenge of not being able to “fake it” very well into the advantage of disciplining myself to be better prepared. In this way I can demonstrate a more a thorough, confident, and conversant command of every relevant factor as compared to my counterparts. And I can spot and correct errors of fact and perception by having mastered the big picture and details through preparation.
This doesn’t all happen by default; it takes time, thought, and work.
As with the teacher at a piano lesson, your business colleagues and counterparts can tell how much you “practiced” or prepared by observing your confidence and performance. The better prepared you are, the better you will be perceived as ethical, competent, confident, and reliable.