One of the most common setbacks within your career comes down to a lack of confidence. You wouldn’t be alone if the thought of presenting in front of a large group of people, pitching to a high-paying client, or sitting through a face-to-face interview with a director makes you feel nervous.
With the gender pay gap not looking to close any time soon and stories always hitting the news telling women to be assertive and more ‘masculine’ to succeed in their careers, it’s no wonder that your confidence can take a bit of a knock.
Although there’s no easy fix to a lack of confidence or low self-esteem, there are a number of little actions you can take to trick your self into feeling and being more confidence around the office.
#1 | Get Some Support from Your Friends
There’s nothing quite like your friends to help boost your confidence. Although friendships at work are great and can get you through a bad day in the office, sometimes you need to switch off from your work life.
The bonus of having a bunch of friends outside of work is that you can hear stories that relate to all different office dynamics and industries, and talking to your friends about their work experiences might shine some light on what you can do. Even if your BFF works in tech and you have a role in retail you might find that they have some really useful advice that is just as applicable to you.
Also, it’s easier to value the opinions of your close friends, so if you’re feeling at a loss, you only have to look to them for a support mechanism.
#2 | Ask About Personal Development Opportunities
Setting your mind to personal development opportunities can give you a really positive boost. There are plenty of online courses that provide industry-specific skills as well as ones that offer more transferrable skills. Or sign yourself up for a workshop, one-day drop-in course or networking event within your sector.
If you feel like you could use a bit of extra experience on a certain aspect of your job, don’t be afraid to speak up to your boss. Many companies won’t bat an eyelid at the thought of funding your personal development; in fact they’ll likely welcome the idea with open hands. It’s a sign of a good company if they are willing to support you in this.
#3 | Avoid Setting Unrealistic Targets
When it comes to personal progression, it’s better to set yourself small challenges than give yourself unrealistic targets. The thought ‘I have to speak more in meetings’ won’t get you anywhere. Instead consider starting small by saying to yourself: ‘I will offer at least one idea in this meeting’ or ‘I will raise at least one question/solution in this meeting’.
Balance your goals so that they are both achievable but also make you step outside of your comfort zone a bit. That way you won’t set yourself up with too big a challenge to worry over, and you give yourself an extra pat on the back when you achieve these small targets.
#4 | Prep Before Meetings
Very few people can stroll into a meeting or interview with ease if they’ve not prepared in the slightest. If you know you’ve got a meeting coming up take time to prepare your ideas, slides or presentation well in advance.
If the idea of speaking up in front of a roomful of people seems far from appealing, having something written down on paper in front of you offers a good ‘comfort blanket’ to get you going. The more you prep, the more clearly and confidently you should be able to deliver your ideas.
#5 | Take Notes
As well as preparing for meetings, it’s good practice to be vigilant when it comes to taking notes. It’s only natural that our minds draw a blank when we’re nervous or under pressure. Having a written copy of all the information you need can prevent any of those awkward moments where you fumble for an answer or stats.
#6 | Dress the Part
As silly as it may sound, dressing the part can help you to feel more comfortable and confident in yourself. Even if your office is casual with its dress policy, there’s no one stopping you from putting on a smart outfit every day to help you get into the professional mindset.
It’s also no lie that looking smart can help you radiate an air of confidence in front of people, and psychologically it can give the impression to others that you know your stuff.
So whether it’s turning up in the office every day with a fresh face of make-up, wearing a go-to pencil skirt to important meetings, strapping on some heels, or applying some killer lipstick, dress in a way that makes you feel ready for the job.
Related: What to Wear to a Job Interview
#7 | Play to Your Strengths
If you’ve got a particular approach to tackling your work that proves successful, sometimes all it takes is to hone your practices to perfection in order to feel a little more confident. Play to your strengths and utilise the methods, tools and techniques that best work for you, to get the job done and to do it well.
Understanding where your strengths lie can help you to champion these and grow even further.
But, it’s also important to…
#8 | Value Criticism
If a colleague instantly dispels your idea or your boss sniffs at your campaign proposal it doesn’t need to be all bad news. A lot of the time criticism can actually be beneficial. Building up a tough skin is just one solution to keeping your self-confidence in tack, but it’s a sign of maturity and motivation if you actually listen up to criticism and address it head on.
Next time you get some negative feedback, ask the giver if they can elaborate a bit. At face-value they may have said they didn’t like your presentation, but if you delve a little deeper you might be able to uncover the reasons why – it’s these ‘whys’ that you can use to adapt your approach for next time. Having confidence is just as much playing to your strengths as it is working on your weaknesses.
#9 | Recognise Your Successes
It’s all too easy to be your own worst enemy, but hold off those critical whispers in your ear for just long enough to consider your successes rather than your failures. If you’ve been responsible for driving some great results within your company, got some really positive feedback from clients and business partners, sourced a valuable new business lead, or you’ve done anything else that feels like a victory (big or small), don’t be afraid to shout about it.
We’ve become so used to the idea that bragging is vain and blowing your own trumpet is a bad thing, but when it comes to business, sometimes all you need is a little recognition for your hard work to help give you that little push to keep going and reassure you that you’re doing a good job.
Obviously, this method works best in small doses to ensure you don’t become that annoying colleague whose favourite topic is themselves…
#10 | Start the Day on a Positive Note
You might roll your eyes at all the talk of ‘#posivibes’ sweeping across the internet but it’s actually scientifically proven that if you start the day off on a positive note you are likely to be more successful.
Channelling your energies into feeling positive about your own capabilities, accomplishments and potential is such a big step in the right direction to becoming more confident.
What rule do you swear by to give you more confidence about the workplace?