Too often, I find I lack confidence and I can’t help noticing that the confident types seem to get promotion. How can I be something I’m not?

How often this question arises! In a nutshell: fake it ‘til you make it. It’s impossible to know what people’s real levels of confidence are - we merely pick up signals. And we are in control of the signals we choose to transmit, so let’s appear to be confident.

Companies aren’t run by people who are the best - but by people who think they’re the best. We all know that to be true as we look at our own organisations, but so few of us act on that lesson.

Athletes are strong users of visualisation where repeatedly they picture winning gold. It’s just as powerful in business. One very senior executive I know writes out lines like we did in school - “I can do this” - 10 times when she hits a difficult moment. Say it out loud if it helps.

But you are right: business does promote confident individuals. Confidence is seen as competence and this is an essential ingredient of leadership. But never forget the practical underpinning of confidence is: do the preparation, do your homework and walk tall.

It has been suggested that I attend a course on negotiation, but I’m already an old hand at this. After all, I’ve been in the top 10 sales people in the company - so should I bother?

My word, what low personal ambition you have. I’m amazed that a man of your complacency is in the top 10. You will surely be overtaken by others who are hungry to learn and have the desire to become number one. Why do you think “it has been suggested”? Sounds like you need to pull your socks up - and quickly.

Negotiator Clive Rich states that there are three ingredients to success in the field - attitude, behaviour and process. Take a moment to check yourself against these attributes.

Negotiation is a complex mixture of process, relationship building and clarity of objective. You must understand the difference between what you and the “other side” need, what currencies you have to trade (time and money), and judge how the deal should best be expressed.

In the broadest sense, negotiation skills sit at the heart of the most senior jobs and a training course will give you a safe environment to try new skills. If you can be bothered.