Social Excellence Breeds Confidence

by Jessica Gendron Williams

confidence-jessConfidence. Defined simply (by the studious dictionary.com) as a “belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities” is far too commonly absent from the women I encounter on my travels across the country educating sorority women on Dynamic Recruitment and Social Excellence.  I could probably speculate for days about why these women are lacking confidence, but that seems counterproductive.  Instead, I started to ask, “how can we renew their belief in themselves?”

There’s no denying that Phired Up primarily teaches recruitment.  We most often teach cause-based membership organizations how to engage more people in their cause.  That manifests in a lot of different ways, but most commonly, into fraternity/sorority recruitment training.  What we find, upon investigation, is that there is not a “system failure” – that the process to recruit people isn’t necessarily broken, but that their network isn’t large enough.  Put simply… they don’t have enough friends.  Non-Greek friends to be more specific… they don’t have enough to be successful at engaging more people in their cause (their fraternity or sorority).

Social aptitude is the missing link to their success.  These students – some of the best and brightest – lack social aptitude (a combination of social skills, an understanding of the importance of networking, and the drive to connect with people intentionally)  and, as a result, they lack confidence to make friends, talk to strangers, and engage with new and different people – to find more people for their cause.  Directly because of this, we started emphasizing more and more of the Social Excellence component in our sorority recruitment training.  Amazingly, almost on accident, something miraculous happened – women are finding confidence – they have started to believe in themselves and their social abilities.  There is a beautiful transformation that is happening within these women, and as a result, a transformation in their organization.  It has become more and more clear to me how much, the Social Excellence training we are doing is impacting the confidence of the women we are teaching it to – and as a result impacting their organization and their recruitment results.

There’s a group of wonderful women that I began working with in March of this year at a university in California.  These women were struggling in recruitment – in comparison to the other groups on campus – mainly because, in my opinion, they didn’t believe in themselves – individually or collectively.  They believed that they were a failure because everyone treated them that way.  But these women aren’t failures:  They are highly intelligent, beautiful, fun, caring, open and authentic women – with (sadly) very low self-esteem.  We focused much of our education, first, on teaching these women Social Excellence – teaching them social skills, so they knew how to make friends.  In the process of doing that… the magic happened:  These women found confidence.  They didn’t just find confidence though -  these women found more.  Suddenly they were excited, outgoing, proud, and engaging.  They believed in themselves, their abilities, and in each other.  There was energy, life, laughter, and lots of noise in their chapter house.

These women learned basic social skills like how to shake a hand and to keep conversation flowing, but they also learned about being curious, authentic, generous, and vulnerable.  They learned what it means to be the best version of themselves.  They learned how to be open, kind, and, of course, bold.  The transformation has been remarkable.  Women who were once uncomfortable talking to me are now texting me to let me know they talked to the cute boy they sit next to in class – and set a time to have coffee with him.  They’re sending me emails sharing the story of being curious about a book they saw someone reading on campus – so they walked up and asked – and made a friend.

Recently, I made a visit to campus to work with them.  I gave them several “challenges”.   One of the challenges was, “Make eye contact with, smile at, and say hello to 25 strangers.”  Text messages poured in that day about how good it felt to make someone’s day – to get them to smile back.

During this visit I also gave them some of Phired Up’s Social Excellence Dare Cards and asked them to complete them then write a reflection about the experience.  I’d like to share one of the responses with you to fully illustrate the transformation:

“The dare I chose to complete was to look for a facebook friend who I don’t really know or haven’t really talked to and get to know them. I chose a girl whom I had met the first week of school randomly. We exchanged numbers but never ended up hanging out, and I hadn’t talked to her since then. So I texted her and asked if she wanted to get lunch this week. We met yesterday for around 45 minutes, and even though I had been scared that I wouldn’t remember what she looked like or that it would be awkward, it really wasn’t bad! I found that conversation flowed pretty easily, partially because she is really nice and is interested in joining band, which I’m a part of, but also because I used some of what I had learned about making conversation during rush and working on it as a chapter.

I’m so glad I did this because we found some things that we have in common and are now planning to go to some events together. We get along very well and I can definitely us growing closer as time goes on. I look forward to meeting some of her friends and introducing her to mine, because it’s very important to me that I have friends in different groups.

At first I thought this dare would be too challenging and there wasn’t anyone who would be willing to go along with it, since I haven’t experienced anything like it before. But it showed me how accommodating people are if you just make a little bit of effort. I am proud of myself for completing the challenge and I know I’m going to continue to reap the benefits!

Thank you, Leah”

These women would have never even humored me in this request in March when we started working with them.  They would have been too shy, with too little confidence to even consider talking to a stranger.  Now they meet and engage with new people everyday (trust me I get the text messages).  We gave them permission to be their true authentic selves, to challenge each other to be the best version of themselves – everyday, and taught them the skills necessary to be the best them.  These women are confident.  They believe in themselves.  They believe in each other.  Because of this renewed belief in themselves, they are able to more easily find more women on campus to engage in their cause – in their sorority.

At Phired Up, we exist to prepare the world’s organizational leaders with the patterns of behavior necessary to consistently increase the quantity of quality people they engage in their cause.  We believe that Social Excellence training gives women the skills to feel confident in life, in business, and in relationships.  We believe Social Excellence training teaches women to be bold and confident.  We believe when women feel confident it empowers them to realize their dreams and inspires them to make a difference – to engage more people in their important causes – whether it’s sorority or otherwise.

P.S. Our recently announced partnership with The Confidence Coalition is a prime example of this connection between Confidence and Social Excellence.  We’re incredibly excited about it!