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When research and personal experience go for a walk with confidence

_GEB0094by Sonja Bichsel

Running 15 minutes late, I am sitting on my bike in heels, trying to beat the rain while wondering which would create the bigger blow to my confidence – arriving wet and late (due to the rain) or sweaty and slightly less late (due to a good workout). I end up deciding to choose the middle way, a little less speed, half sweaty, half wet from the rain and arrive 15 minutes later at Ginetta’s to Crack the Confidence Gap with We Shape Tech.

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The event is filled to the brim, 60 eager participants show up to find out more about confidence. The crowd arrives prepared – participants have gone through a short survey that helps them identify which areas of confidence needs the most improvement. Not to my surprise and to my own annoyance I score worst in the category of self-branding and marketing. I decide to politely ignore the result and later join another working group to save my brain from getting stuck in another rant on why I refuse to consider myself a product I need to market and build building confidence in another area of my life.

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The evening starts with a short deep into what confidence is. Simone Reichlin User Researcher at Ginetta takes the stage to demystify confidence and shares the fundamentals from a psychological perspective. Confidence is defined as the trust in ones abilities, qualities and judgment and serves as our basis to act and deal effectively with life’s challenges. Research shows that confidence is learned rather than a trait we are born with. Both socialization and attachment style influence the confidence we build early on and later on support or hinder the further development of confidence throughout our lives. Other factors influencing self-confidence are gender, age and nationality with women consistently scoring lower when self-confidence between genders are compared. “While we think we live in an equal world, the gender gap clearly shows that reality still is different.” To tackle the challenge Simone suggests to pair building awareness on where and why the gap occurs with talking about it and building the tools to bridge the confidence gap. The evening’s program is designed to help us put those three steps into practice.

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I decide to join a working group that takes a closer look on how to build confidence in response to typical situations that occur in the workplace every day. The discussion in my group is lively and brings up experiences that we read and hear about frequently. There is the tech consultant who has to prove her role again and again as a project lead, even so she has 10 years of experience in the field. The sales representative who casually gets asked by her manager whether she knows if she wants to have a family or build her career. And the co-worker who doesn’t know what to do with her tears in the workplace that sometimes build up when she is extremely frustrated or angry. Many of us noticing that the blow towards our confidence feels worse when we feel we reacted in an inappropriate way during or after the situation.

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While coming up with solutions we also start asking ourselves who has been setting the norms and rules for what we accept as professional behavior. Why do we feel pressured to come up with a response right away? Why does it seem like a no go to tear up or cry at work? And will these norms change with more and more women taking the lead in the workspace?

Some of the solutions we build in the group are simple, but have proven effective like taking the time to follow up when we want to communicate more even after a conversation has ended, asking for feedback more often, taking the time to download with an ally before confronting the person concerned in a conflict or misunderstanding.

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Appreciating the diversity of possibilities presented on building and demonstrating more confident behaviour, to me the larger question on how environments and structures need to be shaped to enable women to live, express and practice confidence remains unaddressed. Lately, I am feeling a growing level of unease when women address how they can adjust their behavior to come across more confident. I am wondering if we once more just try to accommodate ways of operating that already don’t support the majority of women, rather than addressing the root cause.

On my way home, my head is spinning with questions and new ideas. Climbing up the small hill towards my apartment on my bike, I conclude that for me confidence continues to grow in spaces that allow me to actively engage, in which people are interested in my thoughts and opinions, in which I can contribute to shaping the flow of communication and there is a willingness to continuously work through differences.

 

Cracking the Confidence Gap – where confidence wears more than one skirt.

_GEB0086by Catherine Ebneter

Last Wednesday We Shape Tech hosted a work-shop style event aimed at cracking the Confidence Gap. Over 50 participants joined together to tackle the challenging topic, exchange life hacks and learn new strategies to boost their self-confidence.

The event kicked off with a delicious welcome apéro hosted by Ginetta and a brief introduction of what the Confidence Gap is by Janine Fuchs and Marike Carstens of the WST team. Ginetta researcher, Simone Reichlin, dug deeper into the topic by explaining attachment theory – how self-confidence develops in childhood. As children mature, data reveals that a gap in confidence between boys and girls becomes evident, one that often carries on into adulthood.

According to research presented in The Confidence Code, “men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both, [but] their performances do not differ in quality.” A lack of self-confidence is often why women do not speak up in meetings, feel unworthy of positions they are qualified for and overestimate risks while underestimating rewards. Read more about the Confidence Gap between men and women here.

_GEB0176In preparation for the work-shop part of the event, participants were asked to complete the Nice Girls Self-Assessment found in the best-selling book Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by executive coach, Lois P. Frankel. The assessment identifies seven areas where low self-confidence can affect how we behave in our professional lives, for example, how we play the game, how we act and how we think. Participants joined one of the discussion groups based on their self-assessment.

_GEB0164Each group was given the task of identifying how low-self esteem can shape one’s behavior at work – how does low-self esteem affect the way we think? Conversations were buzzing with personal examples of dilemmas group members had faced. One participant, for instance, shared that customers often challenge her expertise, and she fears that when she responds assertively she appears rude.

_GEB0149Groups were then asked to brainstorm life hacks to help overcome these types of obstacles. As the workshop ended, a spokesperson from each group took the floor to share their group’s findings and the life hacks they had assembled.

 

How You Brand Yourself

  • If you are looking for a job make a video of yourself as it will distinguish you from other candidates
  • Be proud of who you are and do not be afraid to take credit for your work

How You Play the Game

  • Discover the unwritten rules of the company by talking to as many co-workers as possible
  • Remember you are not a victim of the game, you are an equal player

How You Think

  • Do not be afraid to communicate your misgivings about a project or a deadline to your boss
  • Trust your gut and expertise

How You Respond

  • Place yourself purposely in situations that stretch your boundaries to practice meaningful responses
  • If you think of something you should have communicated, follow-up with an email

How You Sound

  • Take pauses while speaking to allow others time to reflect
  • Think of conversations as mini-speeches to help structure your communication

How You Act

  • Practice Power Posing
  • Block the perception that people are rating you

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WST was also fortunate to receive personal life hacks via skype from role models who have strived to overcome the Confidence Gap! Please take a moment to appreciate their messages.

Undoubtedly, the battle of boosting self-confidence is shared by many, but possible to overcome especially when we join together. Stay posted for our next activities and Save the Date on October 18 for our Master21 & WST Codeweek Event at EWZ Selnau. Looking forward to seeing you there!

 

 

 

 

 

Confidence Gap – “Wir müssen reden.”

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Wenn ich in meinem Freundeskreis über We Shape Tech, unsere Gedanken und unsere nächsten Events spreche, führt das immer wieder zu lebhaften Diskussionen. Und immer wenn es besonders hoch hergeht, merke ich: das könnte auch in unserem Netzwerk sehr spannend werden. Dieses Mal haben wir mit dem Confidence Gap wieder so ein Thema, das etwas zum klingen bringt und polarisiert.
Worum geht es beim Confidence Gap? Continue reading “Confidence Gap – “Wir müssen reden.””

Meine sechs wichtigsten Erkenntnisse als Gründerin von WE SHAPE TECH

 

Vor knapp fünf Jahren habe ich begonnen, mich intensiv mit der wirtschaftlichen Relevanz von Diversity auseinanderzusetzen. 2013 folgten erste öffentliche Auftritte und zwei Jahre später die Gründung von WE SHAPE TECH zusammen mit meinen Mitstreiterinnen Tanya Wüthrich und Janine Fuchs. Mit diesem Post nehme ich zwar Abschied vom WE SHAPE TECH Führungsteam, nicht aber von der Vision, dass erst das Bewusstsein über die gesellschaftlichen UND wirtschaftlichen Vorzüge von Diversität zu einem nachhaltigen Wandel führt.

Continue reading “Meine sechs wichtigsten Erkenntnisse als Gründerin von WE SHAPE TECH”