Sophie says "Your work is so good James, I could never do something like that! "
The above type of statement is something we hear a lot from people young and old. After 2-3 sessions this self- doubt behaviour has gone and is replaced by self-esteem.
How does this work?
Someone in self-doubt mode will praise someone else's work and say that they could never do that. Often this is not because they genuinely don't feel they could; they just want recognition and reassurance so they can!. There seems to be a trend to react to this behaviour with gigantic praise. "But your work is absolutely amazing too Sophie" This may work a few times at best and then loses its effect very quickly as Sophie realises that you're saying it for every bit of work whether they think it's good or not.
At Jarratts if we see a person having doubts (through body language or comments) then even before things can escalate we will identify something either in their work or their behaviour and ask them to share it so that THEY can become the expert. "Sophie, I enjoyed your report, it really gave strong evidence and was based on solutions. Perhaps you could you give Tom some ideas how to get started because this is not an easy thing to be able to do." This method can snap someone back to their usual self instantly. Also once others hear and see help being given they become more aware that this is acceptable and will more openly offer their services to share a technique they have found works or will feel more confident about asking " Wow, that is great, how did you do it? Can you show me?"
If a self-doubt comment cannot be pre-empted we gently use another tact, "Sophie, I like listening to you using positive comments about James's work, you're right he has provided concise and thoughtful answers ." I will then ask others to stop and have a look at each other's work and find something they like and then make eye contact with that person and tell them. Immediately spirits are lifted as they hear from their peers how well they have done.
Another tactic is to prompt 'Sophie' with "you've been really listening because I can see some excellent detail in your design" What I am also doing here is role modelling suggestions of how to give positive praise.
We also make a point of telling people how much they have inspired us and its genuine. We let people know when their work or actions have led to a new idea.
You can see that setting a consistent environment, where people feel safe to share their feelings is so important. The positive behaviours can be instigated by the leader but must be passed over to others to follow and uphold. That way, when self-doubt strikes, either the person self corrects or another person kindly reminds them.