Interview: Marci Fox, Ph.D.
Dr Fox’s book is a favorite of many team members of WebFX, and has helped us create the positive work environment that we’re famous for. We also recently featured it on our list of the 5 best productivity and positivity books. The book takes psychological look at how people can eliminate self-doubt to make them more productive workers and better people.
Check out what she had to say in this five question interview!
1. How can you stop the snowball effect of self-doubt?
The way to do that is to “check it out.” A lot of times people just buy into their thinking, but just because you think or feel something doesn’t mean it’s true.
Don’t automatically go into panic mode about the worst-case scenario. Take a step back to look at the facts and say “what evidence do I have that this is true or untrue? Realistically, is this something I need to be concerned about right now?”
Rather than thinking of the worst-case scenario, what’s the best-case? Most people forget to ask themselves that question. What’s the most realistic outcome? That’s where it’s important to stay. If you don’t realistically need to worry about it, let it go. If you do need to worry about it, focus on the realistic outcome, not the worst.
2. Your four step program for eliminating self-doubt is “Label It, Question It, Rethink It, and Take Action.” What are the dangers of skipping the first three steps?
If you take action on something rather than labeling it and thinking through it, you’re being reactive rather than effective. You’re going with what you’re thinking in the moment. That’s when lots of problems happen. When you’re able to take that step back to label it and think it through, you can be more effective.
During times of stress, most of us go with our immediate reaction. Sometimes that can work, but when we’re under stress, we’ll use that same action across the board in every situation, and lots of times it doesn’t fit the scenario.
3. How can business owners or managers eliminate negativity and self-doubt from the office?
That’s a great question because it can be tough. Doubt comes from within. For each of us, doubt comes from different feelings and vulnerabilities we have.
We’ve talked about two main types [of employees]. One is from the autonomous, achievement-focused style. They set goals and a lot of their confidence comes from how productive they are and how well they do. In a business situation, when a person’s vulnerable in that area (for example, they feel like they’re not good enough or smart enough), any type of feedback about their work can really impact their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves.
On the other hand, someone who is more socially dependent cares more about their relationship. Their doubts are more about being unlikable, unlovable, or thinking they don’t have a lot of offer. For them, if someone looks at them funny, is short with them on the phone, or implies that they’re not a good team player, that’s when their doubt is more likely to be activated.
The short answer is that it’s about knowing the people you work with and what pushes their buttons. Then try to word things in a way where instead of activating their doubt, it’s a way where you can be constructive and they can grow.
4. How should you respond to legitimate self-doubts — as in, understanding your own weaknesses?
All of us are a composite of lots of different personality skills, physical skills, experiences, roles, expertise, degrees, etc. There are lots of things that make us who we are. It’s important to never define ourselves by any one thing.
It’s about recognizing what our strengths are, and knowing that all of us are walking around with weaknesses. Rather than beating ourselves up about those weaknesses, we recognize that we can use our resources to get the skills and experiences we need. Asking for help and going for advice doesn’t grow your doubt, it makes you a smart person.
5. When people read “Think Confident, Be Confident,” what surprises them the most?
It’s really about the fact that it’s important to be thinking about your thinking. Growing up, none of us took a class about thinking about your thinking. People walk around thinking that just because they think it or feel it, it must be true.
People learn from our book the importance of “checking it out” so you’re not just reactive and so that when the thoughts that are feeding your doubt aren’t true, you throw it in the trash and don’t let it impact you. When those thoughts are true, typically they’re not true to the extent that you’re buying into it. That’s when you can examine all of the options you can take. Then pick one and go for it.
Bonus question: What are you currently working on?
We wrote a Think Confident, Be Confident for Teens book that we really like. It uses lots of examples about getting off the doubt path. It has a great quiz that people can take on their confidence, too.
We also have a “Training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy” book coming out in a couple months. We co-authored it with several top people in the field.
Marci G. Fox, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, has been in private practice for almost 15 years. As an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Beck Institute, she trains individuals in cognitive therapy both nationally and internationally, and helps mental health professionals to improve their clinical skills and pinpoint specific areas of remediation.