It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 55, we all struggle with confidence sometimes. And that’s an important point to remember – you aren’t the only one dealing with this issue. Anyone that has ever worked with me will tell you I’m one of the most confident people around, yet read a few articles in this blog and you’ll quickly realize it’s a routine struggle, even after 30 years of teaching it. So, today, let’s talk about how to increase confidence at work. There are 10 tips in the following paragraphs for you to use to help you be more confident in your job.
1. You’re In Your Current Job Because You are Qualified to Be There
I’ve got some other articles here about imposter syndrome but suffice it to say, it’s a common struggle to feel like you’ll be found out. It’s like fearing that one day they’ll realize you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing. Remember this, you were selected from a pool of candidates based on your specific skills, abilities, attributes, attitude, personality, and work history. You were chosen. Think about that for a minute. You would not have been chosen if someone didn’t see in you what you may not yet be able to see in yourself. Trust that decision and own it.
Once you begin to realize you deserve to be where you are, you’ll begin to advocate for yourself more. You’ll start to speak up more and offer solutions and ideas. You deserve to be in your role. If you are invited to a meeting, you deserve to be in that meeting. Act like it and contribute accordingly.
2. Surround Yourself with Positive and Supportive People
The workplace can be a cesspool of negativity and backstabbing. While you may need to work with these people, you don’t need to hang out in the breakroom with them. Believe me when I say not only will the negativity suck the life out of you, others will notice who you are surrounding yourself with. And this will impact your career opportunities. Stay away from the gossip and just get your damn work done. You’ll feel better about yourself at the end of the day.
3. Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
One reason we struggle is that we’ve experienced what we perceive to be a failure. And once we’ve experienced “failure” we can get a little cautious about trying again. Start by making smaller goals that you can achieve. I’m not just referring to project or productivity goals. You might set a goal to say hello to a VP in your organization. Set goals that are just a bit challenging but not so overwhelming that you are crippled at the idea of attempting it. Setting small goals and achieving them gives us the confidence to try something just a bit harder.
4. Learn to Accept Compliments and Positive Feedback
Some of us have been taught to be humble and we mistakenly believe that means we shouldn’t accept compliments. It wasn’t until recently that I looked up the term humble and found this: “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.” So, basically, we’ve all been taught it’s a good thing to think “less” of our importance and worth to society. Don’t get me wrong, nobody likes someone that’s arrogant but I’m guessing if you are reading this article this is never going to be an issue for you. There is a balance between low self-confidence and arrogance. You want to find that middle place instead of being at one end of the spectrum or the other. Let’s start with a simple “Thank you. I appreciate that” when someone compliments you. Or even a “That’s very nice” without feeling the need to reciprocate the compliment with one of your own for them. Accept it. Trust it. Take it in. Add it to your list to remind yourself of what you are good at.
5. Create a List of Positive Qualities
Those lacking confidence often don’t see their positive qualities and only focus on what they think is lacking. Take some time to reflect on your positive characteristics. Take an inventory and write it down. While you’re at it, write down the times you did hard things that you didn’t feel comfortable doing but you did it anyway. These lists will be invaluable when you are feeling “less than.”
Related Article: Benefits of Positive Affirmations
6. Practice Mindfulness & Focus On the Present
When we are feeling “less than” in some way, we often tend to focus on past mistakes and future potential catastrophes. We see things we did 5 years ago as an indication and validation of why we shouldn’t do something today. And we look ahead at all the potential negative outcomes of taking a specific action. One of the most important things you can learn is how to be present (mindful) in just the moment you are in without worrying about the past or future. Learn to meditate and narrow your focus. There are some great apps out there you can download to your phone for free (Headspace is a great one I’ve used before). Start your day with just five minutes of calm breathing. I’ve had times when I stepped into the bathroom at work or walked around the building to practice mindfulness during the day.
7. Learn New Skills & Challenge Yourself
As a Gen X person, one thing I challenged myself to do at work was to learn the newest technologies available. Being in a leadership position meant I could have delegated those things but felt it was important for me to continue to grow and learn. When you learn new skills, you not only increase your confidence, but you become more valuable to the organization. Continue to learn and grow both within your area of expertise and in areas where you hope to be someday. Learn about things that will prepare you for your next position as well as the skills that will make you more valuable in your current position.
8. Learn to Set Boundaries
People with lower self-confidence are often taken advantage of by those with greater self-confidence. Learn to set boundaries. This is so difficult for so many people. Setting boundaries feels a little selfish. Think of it this way, anytime someone asks you to do something, ask yourself about the motive of the person making the request. Do they just not want to do it? Did they not plan their time appropriately? Are they taking advantage of your kindness? And would they help you if you had a similar request?
I’m not suggesting you should never help anyone again. I’m suggesting that instead of your likely immediate response of “Sure, I can do that,” you should pause and consider whether or not you should do that. It isn’t a matter of whether or not you can, it’s a matter of whether you are enabling someone else to not prioritize their life and work appropriately. Boundaries can range from the peer that asks you to take notes at every meeting to the co-worker that spends their time watching Tiktok videos and then needs your help to hit a deadline. If you struggle with boundaries there are some great books, articles, and videos on how to improve in this area. Start with Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
9. Avoid Negative Self-Talk
Quit beating yourself up. Try some affirmations. Talk to yourself like you would a friend you love and admire. Start being your best friend instead of your worst enemy. There are lots of articles on this site about self-talk, checking your beliefs, and affirmations. Start by just writing down at the beginning of every day five positive things about yourself. They can be character traits, physical characteristics, or things you did that are positive. They can even be things you thought about doing that are positive. You can write down the fact that you researched how to gain confidence on the list! Do this every single day. You just need to write 5 positive things about yourself. Then, do it again, before you go to bed. It’s best if it isn’t the same list but there is no harm if it is. Write them down. There is something about writing them that embeds them in your psyche a little better.
10. Take Care of Yourself Physically
When we take better care of ourselves physically, it signals to our minds that we are worth it. And there is nothing better than to look in the mirror and feel good about yourself. You’ll find that you’ll begin to stand a little taller, dress a little nicer, and expect others to treat you a little better. Your body is your physical vessel to experience life with. Taking care of that exterior shell increases your energy, elevates your mood, and gets that blood flowing. All of those things are so very important to developing self-confidence.
While you are taking care of yourself physically, remember, it’s about your health and not your looks. Some people don’t like how they look no matter how much they work out. Don’t be one of those people. Remember, this is your body and your vessel. It is perfect for you to accomplish just what you need to accomplish in life. With social media, it’s so easy to compare yourself to others and pick apart your physical qualities. Your physical qualities are uniquely perfect for you. Taking care of yourself physically is an easy way to build confidence because you can see the results of your efforts pretty quickly.
Building confidence is a journey that gets easier with time. Consistency is a critical component. You can’t have positive self-talk for a week and then negative self-talk for a week and expect results. Unfortunately, we are an instant gratification society and expect results immediately. But life is a long game and learning the lessons needed to excel takes time and consistency.