Develop natural confidence around people - try these exercises to boost your confidence with people and feel less at the mercy of others' opinions.
One of the most devastating aspects of any burnout experience is lack of confidence around people - where we fear judgment, withdraw and isolate, then feel left out and even more at risk of failure.
Luckily, social insecurity is as amenable to change as any other misery of burnout.
Learn how to tell if your social confidence is affected by burnout and how to create an internal supply of confidence, without asking anything of others. This is how you can join back in at work and feel supported.
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**Dex ** (00:00:09) - Hi everyone, my name's Dex Randall and this is the Burnout to Leadership Podcast where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work.
**Dex ** (00:00:23) - Hello my friends. This is Dex and I really appreciate as your time and attention on the podcast. I'm really glad you're here for this week's episode on being more confident with people, cuz this month we're all about confidence. Uh, you might also want to listen to episode number 72, which is about confidence, clarity, and efficiency. And two upcoming episodes on confidence and self-esteem and the confidence to surpass your previous best because my friend, you deserve confidence and you're quite capable of snatching victory from the teeth of despair. That's the game we're playing here, right when we're working with burnout. And it's clear to me over the years of both experiencing burnout myself and working on it with others, that one of the most devastating aspects of any burnout experience is lack of confidence around people pulling back from them. And the consequent feelings of separation, loneliness, lack of support, lack of belonging, fear of judgment, all of those that arise as a result.
**Dex ** (00:01:24) - And even for people, this is the same for people who are naturally outgoing, extroverted, gregarious, and have previously been very socially confident. When they drop into burnout as well, the social side falls away in insecurity for them too. Guess why wouldn't it? We've kind of lost sight of all the goodness within ourselves and others and our social systems shut down in the face of our fear and anxieties that repeatedly trigger fight or flight cuz that's what happens to humans in in fear. We downregulate down, regulate our social side and in burnout we feel less strong, less capable, less in control. We very incessantly don't we, that people would judge our performance or our attitude and then we stop returning messages and phone calls because we feel a bit too shitty and worn down. Really, our social side is probably gonna be at an all time low and those of you who are listening in burnout now thinking perhaps about your work relationships or your friends, your partner, your kids, you know, fair enough because relationships are likely to be affected across the board.
**Dex ** (00:02:30) - If burnout starts at work, it doesn't usually end there. This is just one person, right? And because human relationships are central to everything we do and everything we achieve, naturally the effect's gonna be widespread. If we fall out of connection though with the important people in our work and social and family lives. If we let that fall away outta fear and shame at how we're being in the world, uh, if we think we are failing or falling short, and the impact of that will be profound, it will be demoralizing. This social withdrawal isolation, uh, loss of meaningful, nourishing connection is one of the vicious cycles of burnout and the intune loneliness precipitates deeper suffering. For example, studies show that lonely people experience more illness and accidents, feel more pain, even die earlier than people with strong social support. Our nervous system is simply not designed to work separately from other humans.
**Dex ** (00:03:35) - Survival is at an organism level, it's a team sport. So if you're not feeling like speaking to people at work, for example, colleagues or clients, hearing that you can't give them what they want and if you expect them at that point to be disappointed, disapproving or critical, or if you're avoiding your kids at home after work because they want something from you that you don't feel able to give. Now, noisy demands and energy are grating on you if you're not emotionally present to your partner, hiding in a dull and heavy fog, not wanting to discuss anything real. If you spend all day at work ducking and waving away from your responsibilities that seem impossible to meet, making sure that no one actually knows what you're doing or not doing, worried that they'll discover how far you've fallen behind. If you're silent at meetings, where once you would've contributed more and you feel eyes on you, people expecting more of you, if you're full of resentment, frustration, impatience, internally raging against the unfairness of it all and your impotence to fix it, your current inability to make it work any better.
**Dex ** (00:04:50) - If you're not meeting targets, perhaps because you're not speaking to people enough. If you feel unsupported, like everyone has abandoned you to your fate and you're just watching your world implode. If you're dreading going to work or to a meeting because you feel rough, irritable, exhausted, despairing and you're a little bit embarrassed that brokenness is gonna show on your face. If you can't get it together to make contact with people outside of work cuz you're so tired and grumpy and you just wanna be alone with a beer and Netflix, if any of that description of social withdrawal resonates for you, then this episode is for you. And right now I'm gonna say straightaway to you, although your mind is telling you that you're doomed, that things will never get better than this. I can assure you that is not true. So okay, what are we gonna do about it?
**Dex ** (00:05:45) - I can almost hear you saying, Hey, okay, clever clogs dex, what is the solution? Well, I think of it like this. You can really affect a strong change by choosing to see yourself and other people in a kinder, more benevolent light. And here's an exercise to do that. When you catch yourself dooms scrolling in your own mind and coming up with self-critical thoughts, just pause that for a moment and notice yourself noticing those thoughts going by because that gives us a little kind of bit of separation from the thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You are the person observing your thoughts. Then you can decide not to believe those thoughts as if they were the truth because they aren't. There are really lopsided, negatively biased, fear-driven take on you and what's happening for you. Instead, you can choose to recognize on purpose that you're doing the best you can, that your intentions are good even if you're just too tired and beaten down right now, uh, to be fully effective. Yep. So what I'm recommending there, you heard me correctly, is cut yourself some slack because if a friend came to you right now and they were in your depleted condition, right? Feeling separate from all that is good and wholesome in the world, uh, separate from everything that they love, if that person came and they slumped in a chair next to you looking dejected and done in, what would you say to them in their plight?
**Dex ** (00:07:24) - Let something's come into your mind. So whatever that thing is, say it to yourself for goodness sake because you are that suffering person. Because if you're on this path of self-criticism and self hatred, if you're being super mean to yourself, if you're starving yourself of kindness, compassion, and support, wonder, wonder, you feel like you're starving, you are. It's like tipping a bucket of acid bile over your own head and demanding that you thrive. Only you can tell if that's working for you, of course. But I can tell you <laugh>, it sure didn't work for me when I tried it. Uh, and it's gonna color as well how you think about other people. This negative thinking about yourself, how harsh you are on yourself, it will leak. You will also most likely be that way with others. So you're starving yourself of nourishment, self approval, acceptance and belonging.
**Dex ** (00:08:21) - But especially if you feel embittered about that, you're probably projecting that onto the world as well. Robbing other people of their opportunity to nourish and support you because really you won't be open to receiving that support at that moment. But it's like all the other negative cycles of burnout. Now you can see it now you're aware of it, you can see what you're doing to yourself, then you get to free yourself up and kind of the rev reverse the polarity where you've been very, very negative. Swing it towards the more positive where you've been taking every opportunity to punish yourself and give yourself trouble and banish yourself from all that's good. You can equally use that same opportunity to notice how much hurt you're holding inside and really just soften your heart to that. Find tenderness for yourself, this adult you lost in your own painful thoughts. You can offer yourself compassion in the beginning simply that instead of being mean to this adult who's suffering enough already, you can choose to be forgiving and kind.
**Dex ** (00:09:32) - Also recognizing that your worries about what other people are thinking about you, um, are not the truth. Those, those projections are not the truth. It's likely that other people's thoughts are nowhere near as merciless as your own. And further, when you address your burnout and your social skills start to revive, you are naturally going to invite the people around you back on side with you. People are gonna become allies again once you open the door and let them in. I suggest if you're worried about other people's opinions of you particularly, then listen to podcast episode 13. Um, it'll tell you some tips to downplay and overcome those worries. The thing that does matter much more than worrying about what other people think more than worrying about your immediate results even is that your efforts align with your values. Even when your performance is weak and you can't give it your all.
**Dex ** (00:10:34) - And you see inside yourself how you wish that you were giving service, your intention is that because your own values are the ones you need to align with. As you emerge from burnout, that's where the deep value is for you in terms of satisfaction, self approval and self-acceptance. It's not your results as such but your intention to live by your own values. It brings its own energy and sense of wellbeing and fulfillment and it also yields confidence in yourself that spreads it's contagious to confidence in in the people around you. Once you loosen up a little and you just, uh, drop the whip you've been using on yourself, it's, there's gonna be a bit like a donkey that's relieved of incessant beatings, right? It's once you allow the donkey to, you know, snack on some grass in the fun, you'll go, you'll be like that donkey and you'll perk up and start taking interest in life again.
**Dex ** (00:11:35) - Another tool I'd really love to use, one of my absolute favorites is curiosity and how you use curiosity. It's a tool to not know things, to abandon your assumptions about what's happening, about the only way to solve problems, about how good humans think and behave and about what people should do. Just let go of the whole thing because let's say, okay, here's an example. Let's say your brother tells you not to move house. He tells you that in front of your family, he says it's a bad time, the market's down. Uh, you chose the wrong home, you're gonna lose money and you become very angry. You think he doesn't respect you, he's just trying to prove he's smarter than you and embarrass you. What if none of that's true? What if he actually has a secret gambling habit? What if he needs you nearby as a solid presence in his life? What if it's not about you?
**Dex ** (00:12:34) - Because really not knowing things is a superpower cuz it gives our brains freedom to resolve problems in new and previously inaccessible ways. Cuz everything we think is a fact is just a thought someone gave us that we believed. And when we look back to our childhood, right, a huge percentage of our basic knowledge about the way the world works, uh, and how things and people should be is learned in the first seven years of our lives when we have zero capacity for critical thinking. So we just believe everything, everything we're told. That doesn't make any of it true or complete. We just believe it. And yet then we go on to depend on this knowledge base if you like, to navigate life. So curiosity, being in the not knowing quite apart from rendering us less reactive, defensive and controlling allows us to expand what we can achieve, particularly with people.
**Dex ** (00:13:40) - So you can try this yourself. Use curiosity. Whenever you think someone is behaving badly towards you, you probably tell yourself what they're doing is wrong. And of course you know exactly why they're doing it, don't you? But what if their motivation was different? Like in the earlier example, what if they weren't thinking about you at all? Because the fact is most people think about themselves almost all of the time. It's a survival feature, right? We're self-obsessed. If a person does anything, it's gonna be for how they think they're gonna feel afterwards. So their motivation could be fear, fear of loss, failure, judgment, looking stupid and so on. It'll be greed or ambition to gain something that will make them feel secure. Could be defensive, shoring up their status, position or self-esteem.
**Dex ** (00:14:33) - But if you assume you don't know their motivation and it's probably not about you anyway, you can be curious. And also taking their cultural context, knowing that their belief system, their beliefs about how to be a good human, how to succeed at work aren't the same as yours is. When we think someone's done the dirty on us, if we can see it was never about us in the first place, we can depersonalize it. And that takes quite often a lot of the sting out of it and maybe we're gonna feel a little bit less aggrieved.
**Dex ** (00:15:08) - And then the other place curiosity is really great is when we meet a new person and we are hoovering up all that nature about them sticking a bunch of judgements and labels on them in our heads, deciding we like or don't like them. And really we can't become socially confident people in that way. We never make ourselves available then to genuinely connect and relax about who they are and who we are. If instead we choose curiosity. If we didn't know all about them just by looking at them and hoovering up that data, what we could do is actually still see um, each real and raw person and get to know them directly. And really what that does is it stimulates in us a deeper appreciation for them and connection with them. And this skill applies so much at work. We prejudge our colleagues, team members and so on.
**Dex ** (00:16:04) - And in doing so, we seriously underestimate them. And then what we do is we hang out with the ones we stu likable labels on, usually the ones we think can act the most like us. Successful teamwork though, confident teamwork starts with connecting directly with each person, finding out what's important to them, what motivates them, uh, what their unique gifts are, where their weak points lie. And with this kind of open connection and it's an ongoing open connection, you get to champion them for who they actually are. And this is a way of fostering team confidence, trust, and collaboration, which inevitably affects results, right? Because diversity outperforms homogeny. Think about that just as connection and trust outperform micromanagement.
**Dex ** (00:16:59) - So there you are today, if you kind of quickfire thoughts about confidence around people, and even if confidence seems that inaccessible to you right now, if you're having a tough time around people, remember that a remedy is available and it's part of burnout recovery. I can assure you that your good heart still beats in there and it's stronger than you think. So your mojo might be a bit dormant right now, but when you fix the burnout, it can be reignited and the full splendor of you in relationship with your people, your job, your world is gonna bounce back. Well, thank you very much again for listening. If you feel inspired to rate the podcast or leave me a review, that would be super wonderful. And for those of you in burnout, listen for the link at the end. You must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly, sustainably, and get back to your best performance leadership and most of all, enjoyment inside work
**Speaker 0** (00:17:55) - And out.
**Dex ** (00:17:58) - If you are in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership program. You can book in to talk with firstname.lastname@example.org. Just tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.