How to be confident at work

Confidence isn’t something we’re born with; it grows naturally. It’s cyclical, so sometimes we feel extreme confidence and on top of the world, while at other times we feel down, negative and believe we can’t deal with problems that arise. Although perfectly normal, it does have an impact on all areas of your life. In this article, we look at what workplace confidence really is, why it’s so important to be confident at work and what the benefits are for the individual and the organisation.

What Causes a Drop in Workplace Confidence?

There are several contributory factors that can lower your workplace confidence:

  • You don’t feel you have all the necessary skills to do your job, or that others around you are much more experienced.
  • You are new to a team and unsure about meeting their expectations.
  • You’re concerned about job security, or experiencing a difficult manager or colleagues?
  • It could even be that you are just being very hard on yourself and continually striving for perfection.

If you’ve ever experienced any of these feelings you are not alone. Read on and learn how to help yourself.

Benefits of Having Workplace Confidence

  • You’ll develop and increase your self-worth and highlight the value that you bring to your workplace.
  • You’ll be better able to make decisions and accept the consequences. This means that you will be able to accept failures more readily because you believe in yourself – your talent, capability and potential to achieve.
  • You will be able to give yourself credit where it’s due and not shrug off compliments for your achievements.
  • You will be able to rise to new challenges and develop your worth both in terms of self-esteem, capabilities and skills.
  • As your confidence levels rise, you will find you have increased motivation, increased trust in others (and yourself) to do the job, and consequently more and more confidence.

This doesn’t mean you will be successful at everything you do, but it does mean that you stand more chance of being successful, and when you aren’t you will be able to deal with it and move on.

12 Steps to Building Your Workplace Confidence

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

A good starting point is to identify your strengths and areas for development.

You can capitalise on your strengths, incorporating them into your daily routine. These strengths may include traits such as having a great work ethic, being dependable or working well as part of a team. Build these into your routine and they will become habits, increasing your sense of self-worth and confidence.

Identifying your areas for improvement will allow you to work on them to increase ability – so if, for example, your communication isn’t very good you could try listening to others intently, not interrupting, and thinking through your answers rather than blurting your thoughts out. Don’t obsess over weaknesses; accept that they can be defined, and with effort, overcome.

2. Tick off your goals

A great way to give yourself a quick confidence boost is to consistently tick off achievements. By keeping a record of your mini goals on a day to day basis, you will have that feel-good factor when you tick completed tasks off the list.

This has a two-fold positive effect. Firstly, the act of ticking items off your list releases dopamine that gives you the feel-good factor. Secondly, the feeling good will increase your confidence, and the act of ticking off will help you form a productive habit that will boost your self-esteem going forward.

3. Practice Active Listening

Active listening is a great skill and will help you communicate more effectively with colleagues, boosting your confidence levels. If you find yourself speaking before you’ve thought things through, learn to put the brakes on and engage your brain first. By adopting a strategic approach about how and when you present your ideas, you will create the impression of being thoughtful and insightful, rather than impatient and indiscriminate.

Practice listening to colleagues’ ideas without interruption, weighting logical pros and cons, and making decisions after listening to everyone’s opinions. This strategy will lead to you to confidently tackle projects and resolve conflict without acrimony. It will gain you respect amongst your colleagues, which will, in turn, increase your confidence in your abilities.

4. Break out of your comfort zone

Fear often leads us to hide in our comfort zone. Fear of failure, ridicule, or making mistakes all serve to hold back our confidence and prevent us from taking action. But if you stay in the same place, be it mentally or physically, you will begin to stagnate. In your workplace you want to achieve more, to grow and learn and follow your career path as far as you can.

You won’t get that by playing it safe. So, challenge yourself. Get out of that comfy place and try new things. Take on new projects and use the strengths you have to stretch yourself to achieve more. When you take small, calculated risks, you’ll find you will build your confidence and feel able to tackle more.

5. Develop your emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence, or EI, has been ranked as one of the 10 ten skills that employees will need to thrive in the future workplace. It is defined as the ability to recognise, understand and manage both your own emotions and those around you. In practical terms, that means being self-aware – understanding how your emotions can drive behaviour and impact others (both positively and negatively) as well as learning how to manage those emotions, especially when under pressure, to achieve positive outcomes.

6. Fake it till you make it

If you feel good about your appearance, you are likely to have more self-esteem, which will make you feel more confident. You can boost your confidence levels by dressing smartly, and ensuring you are well-groomed. Nothing will make your confidence plummet more than turning up to an event looking scruffy and with a hairdo that gives the appearance of having been see-sawed through a hedge several times.

7. Take a test

If you want to understand what makes you (and others) tick, and how you can build your confidence levels by understanding your motivations, you can take a personality test. These are generally untimed, stimulus-response tools that measure an individual’s motivating drives and needs.

The tests are generally quick (around 5-10 minutes) and some are free online. They will give you an analysis of your personality such as how you think and interact, so you can begin to unpick behaviour that influences your confidence in a negative way and creates a more harmonious workplace. Examples of personality tests are the Predictive Index (free, basic test) and the DISC profile (purchase only, but great for teams and shows the best ways to interact with individuals).

8. Help others

Helping others isn’t only an altruistic thing to do. It has a positive neurological effect on your brain by increasing oxytocin levels (which counteracts cortisol, the stress-producing hormone) and helps build trust. Higher levels of oxytocin also lead to higher levels of serotonin and dopamine (mood-boosting hormones), so that’s why you feel good when you’ve done someone else a good turn!

9. Look after yourself

Doing things that make you happy, (whatever that may be) will increase your positivity and self-confidence in your organisation. So, you may decide to go for a run, treat yourself to a meal out or even end a toxic relationship. If you’re stressed at work, take a break. Go for a walk and clear your head to give you space to think clearly. Shift your mind shift to see yourself as worthy of these things – a shift to a positive mood will see you increase in confidence.

10. Limit social media

Hormones are active when we’re on social media. Every time you get a ‘like’ or a retweet, your brain is releasing dopamine. With no constraints, your mind soon starts to rely on these, interpreting them as positive affirmations. This inevitably leads to false positive feedback loops, making you dependent on the next ‘like’ or retweet for a feel-good factor. So, keep social media to a minimum, recognise it for what it is, and don’t become dependent on your like ratings for your confidence levels.

11. Loose the negativity

Negative words and thoughts impact on your psyche. The more you use them to describe how you feel, the more difficult it becomes for you to see anything in a positive light. It can also have a knock-on effect across your workplace. Negativity can soon spread, causing a drop-in morale and productivity levels among colleagues. By letting yourself be overtaken by negativity, you are effectively closing the door on future opportunities.

12. Know your value

Don’t treat yourself as if you are worth less than others in your workplace. If you learn to value yourself, your confidence will increase. So, when someone compliments you on a piece of work or a presentation, accept it graciously and acknowledge that, yes, you did do a good job. Don’t brush aside those little things that will build your self-esteem – take the credit where it’s due.

Further Reading

Overcome your fear of public speaking

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