Dennis January 26, 2018
Confidence is not something we’re born with.
Think about it. As infants, we all had to depend on a caregiver for nurturing and growth. As we mature, we learn how to feed ourselves, put on our own clothes, and communicate with those around us. We go through school and maybe get a college degree. Then we show up in the workplace without an ounce of experience.
Somehow, in the business world, our confidence either depletes gradually as we make mistakes or grows as we accomplish tasks and excel. Often, the difference in our confidence level comes down to how we react to criticism, our ability to gain knowledge and experience, and the decisions we make throughout the day. It’s possible to grow in confidence at work, but you have to be ready to apply these daily habits.
There are a number of things you can do to build your confidence. Some of them are just small changes to your frame of mind; others you’ll have to work on for a bit longer to make them familiar habits.
Everyone knows that competence is essential to workplace success, professional achievement and personal satisfaction. But without confidence, competence will only take you so far. And unfortunately, too many perfectly capable leaders lack confidence.
Building confidence does not require a complete personality overhaul. Instead, you can take smaller steps to become more self-assured and boost your confidence.
Confidence can be a tough thing to build up. I’ve put together some handy tips to help you out.
Here are some key actions you can take:
1. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Volunteer for a project that will help you build new skills. Apply for a job that feels like a stretch but matches your interests. Sign up to present or speak at an event and tackle your fear of public speaking head-on.
2. Visualize what you want as a first step to meeting a new challenge.
For example, see yourself in the role you want to achieve. Golfers are routinely advised to picture where the ball should travel as part of their swing. By imagining yourself in the job you want, you can create that vision for those around you, too. Give yourself a head start by getting into character. Want to take an executive role? Be sure to dress, talk, and act like an executive.
3. Assess your competencies.
Write down all of the skills you bring to the table right now. Don’t forget to include broader talents that can help your organization succeed — now and in the future.
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Create your own environment.
Instead of moving on when a workplace doesn’t meet your needs, reshape it through your actions. Work with your team in a way that feels true and honest, sharing your competencies with complete confidence. In doing so, you will brand yourself within your organization and begin to attract people with similar values to your team. As your team expands to include more people with your mindset, your environment will evolve to one where you want to work.
5.Have others instill confidence in you.
People who are able to cut through bureaucracy and make decisions quickly are rewarded for having the confidence to get the job done. According to a study, overburdened with complicated process and this inhibits productivity and performance. Raise your hand to tackle a few of these projects. Once your peers recognize that you are a problem solver, they will instill confidence within you. Having others reinforce this belief will help you realize your potential.
6. Fake it ‘til you make it.
This has always been my code, ‘Fake It Before You Make It’, “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” In much the same spirit, you are more competent than you know. So act like you know it all! Adopting that mindset will help you take more risks and overcome any fear of failure.
7. Be the change you wish to see.
Once you’ve taken steps to build your own confidence, don’t forget to give someone else a hand up. Through peer coaching, you can partner with others to create a positive change.
Choose someone who works closely enough to see you in action. Each week, give positive feedback to one another on the strengths that you have each displayed. By refusing to accept self-critical behavior and helping one another to erase blind spots, you can enhance one another’s confidence. Better yet, you’ll be helping your peer advance his/her prospects while liberating talent that will benefit your organization.
8. Trumpet your own successes
It’s OK to let people know when you get a win, at least in small doses. That’s not normally true with friends or spouses in daily life, because it sounds like bragging. Yet, you can build your own confidence by pointing out, in a matter-of-fact way, that you were the one who accomplished something for the company. It makes you more confident because you get into the habit of self-rewards and self-acknowledgement.
Tell people you will finish the task
Confidence often starts when you state your intentions. Let people know you will finish an assigned task at work–and then go ahead and finish the task. By voicing your goals to everyone, you gain confidence because you are holding yourself accountable. Speaking it out loud helps you build credibility with others in the office and gain more respect. Note that a confidence killer can also happen if you don’t finish the work.
10. Turn personal attacks into a change agent
It happens to everyone. Personal attacks are meant to push you down and make you lose confidence. Don’t let that happen. If you get attacked personally, dismiss any anger or resentment behind it and look for how you can change and grow. It works. If someone attacks you and says you need to speak up at meetings, accept the feedback. Speak more. The process of growing when you hear negative comments is what can build confidence.
11. Speak your mind
I’m not recommending you avoid having a filter for what you say at meetings and just chime in with whatever comes to your mind. Yet, a lack of confidence is often a bottleneck that keeps you from saying what you really think. Uncork that confidence blocker. By stating your view in a meeting, you are building confidence because at least you can see the reactions to your viewpoint and adjust as needed.
Personal training helps build confidence because it goes right to the source of the problem. You might feel ill-equipped at work and hesitant because you don’t have the proper training. Fortunately, that’s easy to correct. Find online courses in your field or go to a seminar and start growing in your capabilities to counteract any feelings of inadequacy.
13. Increase your knowledge
It might seem obvious, but you can also build confidence by learning more. Read more books, watchmore talks, attend more seminars. It’s easy to go overboard, and spouting your knowledge too often can be a confidence killer when people who have greater knowledge on the subject start debating with you, but knowing what to do about a complex issue or problem can help you gain confidence. Confidence grows when you act on what you know.
14. Bounce the criticism
Here’s a technique to try when you face criticism that zaps your confidence. If you hear something negative that just isn’t true, before dwelling on it and letting it destroy what you believe about yourself, just reject it out of hand. Try thinking of something more positive and remind yourself about the skills you do have. The reason this works is because it’s the brain cycles you waste on something negative that tends to lower confidence.
People with confidence tend to smile more, but it’s a learned skill. If you walk around the office and greet others, smile first and ask about their day. The change in attitude about what is going on around the office builds your own confidence because you realize you need to have a better outlook–and that’s highly contagious. Confidence is reflected.
16. Walk with pep
No, really. This works. How you move around in the office can determine your mood. Shuffling down the hall to your next meeting creates a reaction with other workers. Add a little zing and energy, and you can gain more confidence when people notice you have the pep. It’s also self-perpetuating (ahem). The more bounce you have in your step, the more energy you generate physically and the more you will feel like getting to that meeting a little faster next time.
Find people who will boost your confidence
I’m convinced the best way to build confidence is to find people who know how to encourage you and build you up. The best example of this is my sister, who always seems to have a little compliment for how I’m dressed for the day or a project I’ve completed. If you tend to hang out with people who criticize you too much, that’s going to kill your confidence. It might be time to find new friends.
18. Look at what you’ve already achieved
It’s easy to lose confidence if you believe you haven’t achieved anything. Make a list of all the things you’re proud of in your life, whether it’s getting a good mark on an exam or learning to swim. Keep the list close by and add to it whenever you do something you’re proud of. When you’re low in confidence, pull out the list and use it to remind yourself of all the awesome stuff you’ve done.
19. Think of things you’re good at
Everyone has strengths and talents. What are yours? Recognizing what you’re good at, and trying to build on those things, will help you to build confidence in your own abilities.
20. Set some goals
Set some goals and set out the steps you need to take to achieve them. They don’t have to be big goals; they can even be things like baking a cake or planning a night out with friends. Just aim for some small achievements that you can tick off a list to help you gain confidence in your ability to get stuff done.
21. Talk yourself up
You’re never going to feel confident if you have negative commentary running through your mind telling you that you’re no good. Think about your self-talk and how that might be affecting your self-confidence. Treat yourself like you would your best friend and cheer yourself on.
22. Get a hobby
Try to find something that you’re really passionate about. It could be photography, sport, cooking or anything else! When you’ve worked out your passion, commit yourself to giving it a go. Chances are, if you’re interested or passionate about a certain activity, you’re more likely to be motivated and you’ll build skills more quickly.
If you’re not feeling better
Sometimes the quick fixes don’t help in the long term. If you’re feeling bad and things just don’t seem to be improving, it’s worth talking to someone who knows how to help. Professionals such as counsellors and psychologists can help you develop strategies to help you build up your confidence. They may also be able to help you understand any underlying problems that might be causing you to feel bad about yourself.
If you don’t feel ready to speak to a professional, try taking a look at ReachOut Forums. Talking out your worries with a supportive community of people who have been through similar situations can be a really helpful way to build your self-confidence.