Judging by the huge number of self-help books on the shelves of bookshops across the country, helping people cure loosely defined psychological problems is big business.
The sector covers everything from smoking, anxiety and not being desirable enough to the opposite sex to thinking too much. For those who can’t afford the one-to-one services of a trained professional, salvation lies in 300 pages at the princely sum of £9.99.
Dr Rob Yeung’s Confidence fits perfectly into the self-help genre – everyone has at some point felt unconfident so it’s hardly surprising this book is now in its second edition.
Yeung takes a pragmatic approach to dealing with any crisis in confidence that you might have. A psychologist and coach by trade, Yeung provides a variety of techniques including neuro-linguistic programming, behavioural cognitive therapy and sports psychology to help deal with setbacks, public situations, or going on a date or for an interview.
He recycles well-known clichés about confidence – such as if you act confidently, you are confident – and then provides ways to do it, such as breathing techniques and tips on how to bluff people using confident body language.
But the best bit is undoubtedly when he looks at specific situations and explains how to cope with them better.
Public speaking is a fact of life for most people at work but it’s one of the things that most people dislike doing.
For example, I hate getting up on a stage and public speaking – my mouth goes dry, my tongue swells three times its normal size making it difficult to speak and I lose the thread of what I’m saying easily.
Encouragingly Yeung explains that he also suffered from a similar problem.
Here’s a list of his top tips for getting over it:
- Prepare – make sure you know when, where and for how long you are speaking.
- Provide a personal slant about whatever it is you are talking on and make sure it comes from the heart.
- Structure your speech – tell the audience what you are going to tell them, tell them it, and then tell them what you told them. So in other words, make sure that your speech has an introduction, a middle and a conclusion.
- Get lots of practice and try and recreate a mini-version of the pressure that you would experience speaking publicly.
Sadly there’s no magic wand to making yourself a confident public speaker. In fact about a third of the way through the book Yeung warns readers to beware of the quick fix.
“Yes, you’ll find other books or experts saying you can get confidence in a jiffy,” he states.
“But I’m sharing with you an approach that will give you the best confidence. You get out what you put in.”
Obviously slagging off the competition is an essential activity in most industries, from rapping to mortgage broking, but you can see Yeung’s point.
At times the ideal confident person he describes, in control of their emotions and body language, seems more like a Vulcan or robot than a human that you’d be comfortable meeting, let alone becoming.
But he’s tried to provide a practical guide to real life situations to deal with the sort of fears and lack of confidence that stop many people getting on in life.
Book review by Robert Thickett