Throughout my career as a coach and advisor, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with literally thousands of professionals from across the globe. Some of them are interested in crafting a more compelling resume. Others want to build out a strong social media presence. Some seek counsel on creating a relevant and recognizable personal brand. Still, others seek counsel on managing and growing their careers.
Inevitably, my conversations with them stray from the purely business side of things into matters more personal. One thing that I have gleaned from my years of working closely with people is that one of the most significant assets -- not just in your career but in life -- is self-confidence. In particular, developing confidence in the workplace is not easy. After all, your product is you as a whole person, not merely a professional.
Self-confidence requires work, time, and dedication. It is a step toward self-actualization, which is at the top of Maslow’s pyramid, and which few of us will ever fully achieve.
Many of us struggle with how to become more self-confident in the workplace.
Editor's Note: You can plant your seed of confidence near the start of your career. Build a resume that captures your supreme qualifications and let your self-confidence in the workplace stem from there.
Realize Your Shortcomings With Regard to Self-Confidence
The problem is that when you are not confident in yourself, people begin to question your credibility and qualifications. It can affect your professional trajectory in the form of denied promotions or raises.
Most of us have worked with someone who cannot make a decision, even to save their life. They may be perfectly competent at their job, but questioning everything makes that competence suspect. Without confidence in the workplace, you cannot glean confidence from others. We’ve probably all worked with the person who is not super-competent, but who has the utmost confidence in themselves. Because they project an aura of self-confidence, people around them perceive them as being competent and good at their jobs.
It is important to note that self-confidence is not the same thing as competence. Many people lack confidence in the workplace while being perfectly competent at their jobs.
So, we’ve established that self-confidence in the workplace is extremely important to your career. Building self-confidence does not require a complete personality overhaul. Instead, you can take smaller steps to become more self-confident and boost your esteem. If you struggle with gaining confidence in the workplace, here are some tips.
15 Tips to Increase Your Confidence in the Workplace
- Don’t focus on what others think. Don't expend your energy wondering and worrying about how others perceive you. Focus that energy instead into striving for your success. How do you value yourself?
- Recognize your uniqueness. There is only one you. No one else can do exactly what you can do: you have unique skills, experiences, thoughts, and ideas. Celebrate what defines and differentiate you.
- Have a reality check. Be bold. Be blunt. Remember the mantra that “feedback is love,” and find out how others perceive you. Don’t hesitate to ask for honest, sometimes uncomfortable input.
- Define success on your own terms. Far too often, we define success by measures that we get from other people. Is success having a big house, fancy car, and a fat bank account? Maybe, and that’s okay. But for many of us, those measures do not define success but are vehicles for achieving success. Does being financially savvy allow you to travel extensively and enjoy a comfortable retirement? Does having a large home may mean that you have ample space for your large family and circle of friends?
- Get out of your comfort zone. Volunteer for a project that will help you build new skills. Apply for a job that feels like a stretch but matches your interests. Sign up to present or speak at an event, and tackle your fear of public speaking head-on.
- Emulate others. Take note of what fellow self-confident employees do in regards to their daily work habits. If it works for them, it can work for you.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses. Conduct a candid self-assessment. Where do your strengths lie? What areas do you need to improve?
- Rise to the challenge. Achieving something you didn’t think was possible is an enormous confidence booster. Volunteer for projects that require you to expand in ways you didn’t know were possible.
- Perform a self-assessment. Connectional intelligence helps companies drive breakthrough business results. How do you stack up? What talents do you possess that can help your organization succeed?
- Fake it till you make it/if you build it, they will come. Project an aura of confidence and create your own reality. You'll ease into the comfort of confidence eventually, but projecting self-confidence can help you make it true.
- Get testimonials. Having a third party attest to your competence is one of the most compelling ways to boost your personal brand. A strong personal brand goes a long way to helping with your self-confidence in the workplace.
- Project the image you want to convey. You’ve heard the advice to dress for the job you want, and not for the job you have. This advice is because your outward experience affects not only how you carry yourself, but also how others perceive you. How do those around you present themselves? Can you kick it up a notch?
- Speak with confidence. Eliminate “uhm,” “ah,” “I think,” “I feel,” “in my opinion” from your lexicon. Doing so will project confidence in the workplace.
- Be decisive. Don’t waffle. Look at the data, review the options, and pull the trigger. Don’t make decisions by committee. Be the decision maker. Decisions by committee are notoriously ineffective time wasters. Decisiveness boosts workplace confidence.
- Be prepared. You’ve heard the saying that failing to plan is planning to fail. Always be prepared. Read the materials before you get to the meeting. Don’t set a meeting without an agenda and have a backup plan in case of an unforeseen failure.
When Self-Confidence in the Workplace Isn't Enough
If you built your self-confidence in the workplace but continue to struggle to advance, you might work in a hostile work environment. Consider revamping your resume and seeking a new job opportunity that promotes personal growth and professional advancement.
Additional Resources for Confidence Builders: