In 5 years since I started coaching, I have literally sat across the table from hundreds, if not thousands of women.  I have observed all types of success, failure, self-judgment and self-confidence.

I have lain awake at night, pondering why some of my clients are possessed with a natural self-confidence, and some just can’t seem to get beyond their demons, and how I can better help them navigate the often uncertain waters of a successful career.

When we start working together, I tell my clients that I am both a hand-holder and a backside kicker, depending on that they need at any given time.  Often, it takes someone else to call out your behavior before you recognise the impact it is having – and that impact can often be damaging, both to your career and your self-esteem.

One trait of many women I coach is their innate ability to talk themselves down – or – at the very least, fail to talk themselves up, or promote themselves properly.

This doesn’t always play out in obvious ways. Let me share 4 of the most common forms of “self-bashing” that I see in women, and what you need to do to change the behaviour.

The Distractor:  You’ll do anything to avoid talking about the real issues, or yourself.  You change the subject, cut people off and refuse steadfastly to engage in self-promoting behavior, and often you won’t even allow others to promote you or say anything positive.

BECOME The Straight-Talker: Get comfortable talking about who you are, what you do, and how you add value.

The Deflector: This is similar to The Distractor, but usually The Deflector will use self-deprecating humour to literally deflect the conversation away from the real issues. I also call this type of behavior “The Clown”, because it often results in you pretending to be less smart; ambitious; and successful than you actually are.

BECOME The Acceptor: Learn to accept compliments gracefully and stop using humour to talk yourself down.

The Denier: You refuse to believe you are a leader, great at what you do and have value worth sharing. You believe everyone else is more capable that you are, and you hold yourself back by not going after what you really want.

BECOME The Decider: Make a conscious decision to believe and accept that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH, as you are, right now.

The Despairer:  You consistently complain about everything and everyone and always seek to lay the blame on external factors. You don’t take responsibility for yourself, or your career, and believe it’s all down to others to make you successful and happy.

BECOME The Believer: take responsibility for your career, your life and actions and know that in most situations, we have a choice as to how we want to react.

Do you recognise any of these types of behavior in yourself, or in your team? Many of us will have indulged in one or more at some point during our career. We often have a fall-back behavior, and THAT’s the one that’s really holding you back.

As I always say, awareness is 90% of the solution. Take the time to think about the things you do or say that are holding you back from the level of success and achievement you are capable of.  Then make a conscious shift and decision not to do them anymore, and adopt positive behaviour instead.

It’s time to grow up – we are no longer little girls. We are strong, talented, ambitious women with so much to give. The first and ultimately only person you really need to convince of that is yourself.