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Steps to Improve Your Self-Confidence at Work (And in Life)

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You know a confident person when you see them. They radiate self-assuredness, secure in who they are and what they bring to the table. Their unwavering sense of self-belief convinces themselves and others that they are capable of achieving what they set out to do. Self-confidence is a powerful skill, enabling you to trust your judgment and abilities while anchoring you securely within your identity. Confident people value themselves, knowing their imperfections and others’ opinions don’t define their self-worth. Uncertainty and self-consciousness can be debilitating, holding you back from achieving, or even attempting, to achieve your potential. While some people are more inclined towards confidence, it’s not an inherent trait. This state of steadfastness is a skill that you can learn. Developing your self-confidence will help you step out of your comfort zone with less fear and anxiety, motivate you to achieve your goals, and remain resilient when facing challenges. 

 

How Confidence Helps You

Low confidence inhibits professional development.

A lack of confidence can stagnate your career advancement. Keeping your head down, flying under the radar, and side-stepping the spotlight means you will likely be passed over for projects or assignments that would improve your skills, earn recognition, and boost your confidence. When you close the door on these opportunities, you’re closing the door to growth and recognition that could lead to promotion and increased pay. 

Confidence begets confidence.

Exuding confidence inspires others to place faith in you and invites trust. You project your internal beliefs about yourself in how you talk and act. A lack of a strong sense of self-belief signals to others that you don’t trust your own judgment and aren’t willing to take complete ownership of your ideas. They’ll likely follow your cue and not place trust in you. But confidence paired with expertise equips you to be in a position to influence decisions and build your credibility.

Confidence and career satisfaction go hand in hand.

When you feel good about yourself, you tend to perform your best. So it should be no surprise that studies show confident individuals are more productive, have greater job satisfaction, and are happier. That’s not to say they never mess up or turn a blind eye to their mistakes. Instead, they change the way they view setbacks. They take ownership of their errors and use them as a springboard for growth and knowledge.

 

Steps to Becoming More Confident

1. Recognize your unique value.

There’s no universal baseline for “normal.” What you may believe are mundane aspects of your experiences and identity are what makes you unique. Your perspectives, skills, and strengths differ from anyone else, helping prevent groupthink while inspiring creativity. Your voice is worth hearing, and your point of view is worth sharing. Second-guessing yourself and believing you have nothing worthwhile to contribute is self-sabotaging behavior that holds you back from achieving success that would build your confidence.

2. Take care of yourself.

Caring for your physical and mental well-being improves your relationship with yourself. It builds trust because you acknowledge your body’s needs and know how to tend to them. When you look after yourself, you reinforce the idea that you are worth caring for. You’ll naturally feel more confident knowing you’re intentionally laying the groundwork to feel and perform your best!  

3. Be intentional about your body language.

A confident demeanor increases the likelihood that others will respond well, creating a positive feedback loop that boosts your belief in yourself. Posture is a confidence signpost because people read your nonverbal cues. When you’re nervous, you tend to shrink physically by hunching your shoulders, bowing your head, and avoiding eye contact. Not maintaining eye contact suggests you’re distracted or nervous. Doing so only highlights your insecurity while feeding into it. Practice sitting straight and tall and maintaining eye contact to show you’re engaged and interested. Project confidence with your posture, and you’ll be surprised how your mind follows your body’s lead.

4. Check your vocabulary.

Be mindful about how you present your thoughts, opinions, and ideas. Qualifying phrases like, “I’m not sure if this makes sense, but…” and “I feel like this might work, so….” introduce uncertainty to your statements. Qualifiers make it appear you’re unwilling to take responsibility or ownership for your ideas by sending cues that you perceive yourself to lack experience or expertise. Doing so leads others to cast doubt.

5. Practice a kind, motivating, and encouraging inner dialogue.

Negative self-talk seeks to convince you that you can’t handle a task, that it’s too hard, and that you shouldn’t try. Recognize these thoughts are just that – thoughts – not facts. When you recognize your inner critic, try reframing your thoughts from pessimistic to positive. Try changing thoughts from “I can’t do anything right” to “I learned something from my mistake, and I can apply that knowledge next time and do better.” Over time and with practice, you can turn your inner critic into your greatest cheerleader, opening yourself to learning from your mistakes and seeing potential solutions rather than closing yourself off for fear of messing up again. 

6. Set reasonable goals.

Aim to push yourself out of your comfort zone without setting sky-high goals that cause your self-confidence to plummet when you fail to achieve them. Be realistic, and set goals that align with your abilities. Take on projects that play to your strengths, and remember not to compare or judge yourself to someone who’s been doing it longer. The more you achieve your objectives, the more you will believe in yourself. Avoidance is a confidence killer, so don’t wait until you feel 100% ready to take on new challenges because you’ll always find reasons to put it off.

7. Be patient.

Take baby steps and understand it’s a gradual process. Set goals to use as milestones along your journey. If you’re not one to speak up in meetings, you could start by sharing one comment or question in a low-risk situation like a team meeting where you know everyone. Work your way up to full staff meetings. Or commit talk to one new person each week. Say hi in the breakroom, or send a message congratulating a coworker on a work anniversary or accomplishment. Building rapport makes you more at ease with your colleagues, increasing confidence.

8. Pat yourself on the back.

Save a digital feel-good file to store congratulatory emails, keep track of milestones met, preserve encouraging words from boss or peers, and stash recognition you’ve received from inside and outside the company. Refer to the file for a personal pat on the back and as evidence to remind yourself you are capable. Your feel-good file could come in handy in future job searches, too.

9. Find your strengths and capitalize on them.

Refining your strengths increases your confidence, so find ways to do what you’re good at! Gaps in expertise can fuel uncertainty, making it important to expand your knowledge. Try attending relevant webinars, trainings, and events, or seek a mentor. Leading from your strengths will help you feel self-assured, engaged, and energized. Take an inventory of your strengths and gaps in them. Then, find ways to integrate your talents into your daily tasks and commit to honing these abilities.

 

Confidence doesn’t mean turning into someone you’re not. It’s about becoming comfortable bringing your whole self to every area of your life and asserting yourself. Over time, these new behaviors will become your default, allowing you to embrace new experiences, challenge yourself, achieve your goals, and grow from setbacks.

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