Prepare to own it in the boardroom, at meetings and during that all-important appraisal…
Being more confident at work is easier said than done. We’re all familiar with the feeling of getting butterflies in our stomach before walking into an important meeting, or suddenly having a dry mouth before giving a crucial pitch or presentation.
So it’s hardly surprising that, back in January, almost a third of us Brits made it our New Year’s resolution to be more confident, according to research by Swinton Group, the UK high street insurance broker. While 34% of men said they feel very confident at work, the figures showed that just under a quarter of women (24%) feel the same.
Whether you want to push for a life-changing promotion, or make sure you stand out in those Monday morning catch ups, confidence really is key. Here, Gill Hasson, author of the Confidence Pocketbook, shares her top tips for boosting your self-esteem in the office.
Let’s get started…
When you’re lacking confidence in a particular situation, you’re likely to think things such as ‘I can’t do it’ and tell yourself, ‘everything’s going to go wrong’.
You need to flip this thinking completely on its head. Instead of filling your mind with negative thoughts, tell yourself ‘I can do this’ and ‘things will work out just fine’.
There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and simply thinking something reassuring like this will give you the small confidence boost you need.
Act ‘as if’
The phrase ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’ is a great one, and it can be applied to how you act, too.
Think how you would behave if you were feeling confident. What would you say, do and think? Then try to act ‘as if’ you were that confident person you’re envisioning.
This doesn’t mean acting like someone, or something, that you’re not. Rather, it means acting as someone, and something, you’re aiming to be… and will be soon.
Find your comfort zone
Everything is made a lot easier when you feel relaxed and comfortable. If a big cappuccino calms you down in the morning, then treat yourself when you have a daunting day ahead.
There might be a particular playlist you love, so use that as your motivational soundtrack and make sure you’re listening to it when walking to that next nerve-racking meeting – we all know there’s nothing as empowering as a Beyoncé tune.
Stop comparing yourself
There’s always someone at work who you’ll see as being better, more successful and more capable than you. In your mind, they have more – and have done more – than you. Even when you’re the CEO of a huge company, there’s still going to be someone who you think has that edge.
But instead of comparing yourself to these people, how about being inspired by them? When you allow yourself to feel inspired it can motivate you to achieve and do well, instead of breaking you down for not being ‘up to scratch’.
Find that person you particularly admire at work and try mimicking the way they do things – maybe they make great to-do lists on a Monday morning, or head to the gym at lunch to stay alert. Grab a coffee with them one day and ask how they do it. They won’t be weirded out - after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Take things one step at a time
The ultimate way to build confidence that will stick is by taking things one step at a time. What could feel almost impossible in one go becomes a lot more doable when broken down into a series of smaller steps.
If a step feels overwhelming or too difficult, then break it down into smaller ones. This way you set yourself up for constant successes by achieving small goals regularly, and you’ll naturally feel more confident when you have constant achievements to be proud of.
Ask for help
Do you ask for help when you don’t know how to do something, or do you pretend to know what you’re doing in order to avoid looking ‘stupid’? Most of us are guilty of the latter.
When you’re briefed on a task you think you’ll struggle with, why not book in a 10 minute chat with the person briefing you. The worst they can do is say no, and most will appreciate you going to the effort to really understand what is being asked of you. Failing that, ask a near-peer for their advice – they might have been asked to do a similar task recently and can throw some pearls of wisdom your way.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little guidance – everyone has to start somewhere. Refusing to ask for help is counterproductive; you’re more likely to berate yourself when it doesn’t go well, which will only knock your confidence in the long run.
Learn from your mistakes
If you’re already suffering from low confidence levels, certain work scenarios might not turn out how you wanted – and you could experience real nagging doubts about what went wrong. Whatever the situation and however bad the outcome, always reflect on what went well and what didn’t, even if the process is a little painful.
Get out your favourite notebook and jot down what happened, as well as what you’ve done to resolve it. Then put the experience to bed, learn from it and next time, repeat what worked and change what didn’t – each time you’ll get that bit more self-assured, and know that your choices are the right ones.