This morning I had a business meeting with my bank manager. As bank managers go, she is lovely. Having shared with her that my mother just sold her house and how stressful that has been, she asked me how much my mother got for her house and then she asked me how much she paid for the new place. Then (wait for it …) she asked how my mum was going to invest the money she made. Really?! When does chasing the business become downright rude? I think she crossed the line here.

Tomorrow I am speaking at the Entrepreneurial Women’s Cafe in Toronto on the topic of confidence. In particular: 5 Ways To Instantly Appear Confident and Win More Clients. So I’ve been thinking a lot about executive behaviour and what makes someone appear confident. The more that I read, the more that I realize there is a fine line between assertive behaviour and confidence and being rude.

There is another issue here – What I perceive as assertive confidence, may appear utterly rude to someone else. Is it possible to be assertive and humble at the same time?



  1. a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.



  1. Assertiveness is the quality of being confident without being aggressive.

I like these definitions. Confidence is an inner knowing that we are good enough. We are assertive when we aren’t afraid to wear our confidence. The difficultly seems to be in one’s definition of aggression.



  1. forceful and sometimes overly assertive pursuit of one’s aims and interests.

So if I use this definition of aggression, then my bank manager was indeed rude, as her assertive behaviour was solely in the pursuit of her own aims and business objectives to score another client – my mother!

5 Confidence Faux Pas

  1. Stop the Spaghetti Handshake: There is nothing worse than a limp-wristed handshake. I attend a lot of professional business events and I’m always amazed by the number of executives who shake hands with with only the tips of their please don’t bit me fingers. If this is you, STOP IT!

    Further Reading: Posture Confidence (Top 10 ways to speak confidence through posture)

  1. Stop Apologising: If I could remove one word from the English language, it would be sorry. This word is way overused by women. When we cannot stop apologizing for everything and everyone, what we are really saying is: “I’m sorry for being me.” Commit to stopping apologizing for one week and start living the life you deserve!

  1. Make Eye Contact: Confident assertive people can hold a gaze. Too much eye contact may feel intrusive, rude and dominant. We need to strike a balance. You know that feeling when you are at a business event and speaking to someone who is scanning the room for someone better? It feels awful doesn’t it? Don’t be that person – Learn to listen with your eyes. People instinctively like people who listen to them.

  1. Know What You’re Good At: I was speaking recently to a group of female execs on how to be successful with business video. I asked them what they could teach me. What they were really good at and you know what happened? SILENCE! It was like pulling teeth. Why is it so difficult to share those things that we do really well? Confident people know what they are good at. Take five minutes right now and write down ten things you are really good at. Anything counts – ironing, baking, laughter, motherhood, cleaning, writing. Go for it!

  1. Sit Up Straight! Of course this has to be on my list – I am the Posture Doctor after all. When was the last time you met a confident person who slouches? Exactly! When we sit or stand with expansive power postures, we boost our testosterone levels and testosterone is associated with success and the winner effect.

I don’t think the subject of assertive behaviour is quite as clear-cut as I’ve presented in this post (and do please let me know your own personal thoughts on this in the comments below) but I hope it stimulates some good conversation and debate.

December 2, 2014 No comments

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