Do you find yourself withholding your thoughts and ideas during meetings? Do you stick to your comfort zone, not for lack of skill or talent, but because you want to avoid the consequences of taking a risk? Perhaps you need to learn how to be more confident at work.
Yes, staying safe by doing what you know best can produce reliable results. However, sticking to the same old tasks can be tedious – and may even lead to burnout. When you don’t have the nerve to put yourself out there, your bosses will likely overlook or ignore you. And, without taking more responsibility and challenging yourself, you won’t have the chance to set yourself up as your company’s go-to person.
But how do you improve confidence at work? While giving yourself positive affirmations is a good start, you must start with steps to help you conquer moments of self-doubt and face your insecurities. Follow the tips below so you can stop holding yourself back at work.
Why Is Confidence Important At Work?
Confidence usually manifests in your work performance. Your confidence level demonstrates whether you can keep up and deliver well or if you’ll succumb to pressure.
For example, when you have a big project or challenge, a confident person would effortlessly turn around the situation and develop creative ideas. New projects excite you because they open a world of opportunities. Any “problems” that arise are areas for growth and knowledge.
On the other hand, a less confident person might feel weighed down by self-doubt and uncertainties.
Confident people naturally believe in themselves, which can be contagious. They support high growth in the workplace, gravitating towards like-minded workers and uplifting other colleagues. More self-assured team members tend to rally others to meet common goals despite obstacles – instead of dragging them down with insecurities.
Why Do You Lack Confidence at Work?
Some people are more predisposed to shyness than others. In a professional environment, low self-confidence may stem from:
- Lack of experience
- Not knowing your colleagues on a personal level
- Intimidating teammates or micromanaging superiors
- Fear of failure
- Feeling disconnected from your job or work environment
Can You Develop Self-Confidence?
People struggle with confidence at work more often than they think. Research by Harvard Business School found that young female professionals battle poor self-esteem early in their careers. Feeling nervous or intimidated is natural when you’re new to a job. The good news is confidence seems to improve as you get older.
However, in some cases, the chronic lack of confidence could be rooted in deep-seated issues, such as childhood or past trauma, poor representation in your company, an innate shyness, or cultural bias. For instance, another Harvard finds that women are less likely to indulge in self-promotion than men, even when their qualifications merit it. It puts women at a disadvantage when it comes to promotions or opportunities.
Assuredness doesn’t happen in a snap. It takes determination, a conscious effort, and a lot of practice. Find out how to be confident at work with these tips.
Begin with baby steps.
Are you the type to keep your head down when a superior or even co-worker passes? Maybe you’re afraid of being rebuffed or saying the wrong thing. Are you embarrassed about your appearance because of smile lines and acne on your face or that small overlap in your teeth?
Self-esteem doesn’t happen overnight, but you can do little things to develop it. For example, you can work on your posture. According to research in NeuroRegulation, straightening your back can simulate confidence. Faking it till you make it is fine in this case. It will eventually come naturally.
You can also be more deliberate in making eye contact with people during conversations and smiling more. No, not that modest, upward curve of your lips. A real big grin. If you’re not so sold on your own smile, know that you can work on it. ClearCorrect‘s premium aligners straighten your teeth without letting you relive your awkward puberty days. It’s customised to your needs and marries an invisible ClearQuartz material and flat trimline design to create a more natural look.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Are you scared to speak up or ask questions because people might judge you? Think of it this way: no one has a monopoly on knowledge, and everyone starts somewhere. Build your confidence by asking questions. It shows colleagues your interest in the matter, and for particularly large teams, it helps you be memorable. More importantly, it empowers you to find answers, understand things better, and avoid mistakes.
Learn to power dress.
Heard of the saying “Dress for the job that you want?” Being comfortable with power dressing can help display some self-confidence. When you know you look good, you feel good – and it will show in your performance. Other people also tend to have a more favourable impression of sharp dressers.
Value your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.
Many times, women underpromote themselves because they underestimate their skills and capabilities. People trust you for a reason, so you should not underrate your strengths and capacities. That said, you should also exercise self-awareness and acknowledge your weaknesses. The more self-aware you are, the more motivated you are to learn. And the more you know, the more confident you become.
When you come from a perspective of learning and growth, you frame your mind to accept challenges and problems positively – instead of being shy and saying, “No, thank you.”
Get a great support system.
The people around you can impact your self-confidence. Find people who believe in you. Eventually, their encouragement will enable you to believe in yourself, too. Surround yourself with a good team at work or seek a mentor who could guide you in seeing yourself in the best light.
Keep your spirits up. Learning how to be confident at work takes a while, but practise these tips, and you’ll get there sooner or later.
Exley, C. (2019, December 19). Why Don’t Women Self-Promote As Much As Men? Harvard Business Review.
Lee, D. J., Ybarra, O., Gonzalez, R., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2018). I-Through-We: How Supportive Social Relationships Facilitate Personal Growth. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44(1), 37–48.
Peper, E., Harvey, R. J., Mason, L., & Lin, I. (2018). Do Better in Math: How Your Body Posture May Change Stereotype Threat Response. NeuroRegulation, 5(2), 67–74.
Zenger, J. (2021, September 17). Research: Women Score Higher Than Men in Most Leadership Skills. Harvard Business Review.