Failures in confidence and assertiveness lose graduates jobs

Study after study shows that failures in social skills such as assertiveness and confidence lose graduates jobs. At present skills poor South Africa has 200 000 unemployed graduates, according to StatsSA and state utility Shosholoza Meyl reports that they are hiring women graduates as cleaners.
KPMG director Tshidi Mokgabudi has written to deputy president Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka about it and the University of Cape Town’s Dr Mike Herrington, director of the University of Cape Town Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the UCT Graduate School of Business who compiles the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor says too many young people give up before they have really begun – a lack of self confidence and assertiveness cripples them.

The 2007 GEM of 2 000 young people (18 to 34 years) found that youth entrepreneurs had not “significantly increased since 2001. Over the last couple of years opportunity entrepreneurs have increased and necessity entrepreneurs have decreased. It is not necessarily a positive trend, with 26% to 40% unemployment, you would think that there would be an increase in survival entrepreneurs but what the trend shows is that many of those unemployed are doing nothing.

“Some reports show that the percentage of unemployment is decreasing slightly but when you take it in absolute terms and look at our growing population, what it means is that there is more and more unemployment in terms of the population unless you look at unemployment in percentage terms then it looks like the same or less.”

Liza van Wyk, CEO of Johannesburg-based national training organisation BizTech says that their skills training course, Mastering Confidence, Influence and Assertiveness Skills is consistently well-subscribed. “Those graduates and staff lucky enough to get a job often don’t advance as they should because the lack the confidence or social skills to manage others properly, to place orders confidently or to interact with co-workers or customers in an effective manner.

“Or you get those who consider abrasive conductive to be assertive and they either cause conflict in the workplace or infuriate customers. In a situation where not enough young people seem to learn these skills at home or in educational institutions, it has become increasingly important for businesses to send their staff on courses such as Mastering Confidence, Influence and Assertiveness Skills to get the job done well and to see otherwise talented individuals begin living up to their full potential in the workplace and in life.”
She says too that an internet, email and sms culture while giving the illusion of being better connected often means people rely on abbreviated technology to communicate and when they come face to face with people they don’t really know how to conduct themselves in a socially appropriate manner.

Mokgabudi says it simply means that most employers won’t even take on someone who is inappropriately dressed, doesn’t offer to shake hands, slouches instead of sits in a chair, mumbles instead of giving coherent answers and is not able to quickly respond to basic questions.
Van Wyk says there are very simple exercises an individual can and should do to boost confidence. “All of us benefit from self affirmations, I’ve always been very shy and it has required hard work and deliberate effort to overcome that. “

There are very simple remedies to overcome that, Van Wyk found that attending training to improve presentation skills helped significantly. Many top executives find that belonging to business groups or Toastmasters also helps build confidence.

Other tips include:

  • Seek out constructive, positive thinking people.
  • Dress well, walk tall, act confident
  • If you fear someone, visualise being pleasant and getting along well
  • Praise yourself to yourself
  • Allow time for thinking and planning – make list, measure progress
  • Learn to empathise – look at situations from the point of view of others and try to understand why they behave they do.
  • Bestow compliments generously
  • Begin the day positively think about the things that make you happy
  • Do nice things for others – it surprises them and makes you feel good
  • Learn new things, keep developing skills and acquiring new interests – and meeting new people

“Those tips are very simple and very basic,” van Wyk says, “but on BizTech’s Mastering Confidence, Influence and Assertiveness course we give a range of other more detailed hints and have workshops within the course where delegates can begin trying out a range of other new techniques. It is quite a remarkable course because when we begin there is a room full of nervous, desperately shy people and by the end of the two day course they are animated, open and actively involved in learning new techniques and applying them. It’s heartening to see how quickly people become uplifted, motivated and confident. It’s really easy once you know the techniques.”

LIZA VAN WYK, CEO BIZTECH 0861 249 832 or

Issued by MediaOnLine 011 646 7637