Building Self-Confidence at work

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Losing self-confidence happens to me all the time, but the following tips would help you overcome this burden too. 

Even the most experienced person can feel a lack of confidence at work. It doesn’t matter whether you are at the top of your career, in executive positions, excelling at work activities or suffering from impostor syndrome. You can read about this in an earlier post here.

Most often it sometimes happens for reasons we choose not to focus on. We simply ignore the obvious and choose to wallow in utter despair and sadness, eventually becoming a shadow of oneself just as work performance takes a horrendous dip.

Confidence is a key leadership quality. If you are a decisive person with the credentials to back it up, you will be better positioned to advance in your organization. You are also going to be able to attract and retain a quality team, because they would trust and feel that you have matters under control.

Having confidence could easily feel like levitating through the workplace, taking decisions on-the-go, oozing with boundless energy and briming with ideas about everything and nothing. The exact opposite is the employee whose body language, tone of speech, carriage, dressing and deliverables are lacking in substance and decisiveness.

I must confess that I have had to deal with this situation a lot of times throughout my career. That period is well into its twentieth year. I have since learned to understand when and why this happens and how to climb out of the hole that poor confidence and near broken self-esteem dug me into.

Let’s start first with some of the most common reasons that you may lack self-confidence.

  • If you are working in a job that requires skills set that you don’t have, you will struggle to turn in quality deliverables and may depend a lot on others who may not often come through for you.
  • If you are just starting out in your career, there is the tendency that you feel that you are less experienced than anyone around you and therefore do not have the credibility or knowledge to compare with others who are more experienced.
  • Perhaps you are a new organization in a new industry where you have to re-learn the skills you have worked with all your career. This could easily make you feel uneasy about your ability to succeed.
  • If you have a bad relationship with your boss where you get reprimanded often or talked down on constantly, there is a chance that your ego and confident would have been badly chipped leaving you in doubt of your capability. This is often regarded as the most frequent cause.
  • There are times when you feel threatened by your colleagues who are better equipped, and with a different skill set or by the success they record working on similar task or project. Negative peer relationship can disrupt confidence especially if there is a pack mentality.
  • The fear of losing your job must rank somewhere at the top of the list. The fear simply turns off the mental ability to reach your full potential, forming a ceiling that limits your achievement.
  • It could also be that you are simply too hard on yourself. Setting expectations and personal targets that overwhelms you and makes you feel inadequate and underachieved. This is one of my greatest undoing.
  • Public humiliation and errors in judgement can damage the fabric of confidence and assertiveness so badly that one may never recover.

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. It is therefore important that you do not over-compensate by getting egotistical during moment of low esteem. Regulating and balancing feelings of confidence requires considerable self-awareness and knowledge.

If you doubt yourself, please be rest assured that others will too. Let’s start by building your self-confidence one brick at a time starting with the following tips.

1, Learn and know your stuff. This is perhaps my first step to re-discovery when I suffer dips in confidence. If you know your subject and stance, believe in yourself, and speak with poise and conviction, you will naturally exude confidence. This could be tricky because I know a lot of colleagues who thrive on their poise and the way they speak, when deep inside they are suffering with self-esteem issues. But being knowledgeable about your craft, work is one-half of building your self-confidence.

2, Be positive – Focus on your skills and talent as much as possible. You may wish to list all your good qualities while you avoid dwelling on what you perceive are your weakness. Identify your strength and capitalize on it.

3, Acknowledge your achievements – When you do something or achieve something or a small win, don’t brush it off. Acknowledge it and give yourself praise, even if it is just a small achievement. I believe that team meetings should celebrate small wins. In fairness, there is no small achievement in this world. It is also important that you make sure your boss knows about any good work that you have done.

4, Stand tall on your own laurels – When dealing with colleagues at work, try not to compare your achievements to theirs. You should succeed on your own terms. You are employed with different skillsets and one person can not possess all the skills that an organization needs to succeed. In your own space, dig deep, stretch, learn so you can become an authority in that space. Doing this would give you confident to discuss any subject that concerns your job.

5, Communicate – When you feel insecure or nervous, you will tend to withdraw from your colleagues. This can result from focusing too much on yourself and your own shyness. Use communication tools to help you overcome uncertainty and shyness.

6, Build trust through communication – When you are getting to know people at work, use conversation to build trust and find common ground. Use the person’s name when you are talking and use open questions that can not be answered with yes or No. Clear and open communication at work is key for building confidence.

6, Act confident – The way you present yourself to others can help you feel more confident. Be aware of how you hold yourself and the signals that your body language is sending out. Think about your posture, stand up straight, and when you move around a room, move with purpose. Your body language gives off the tell-tale signs that you are groping with your confidence. Slumped shoulders, confused stance and look, avoiding eye contact, weak handshake, weak voice tone and lack of interaction with other give you away quickly. Of course the list is not exhaustive.

7; Never under-estimate the power of a smile – A smile will make you more approachable and helps you feel better. People see you as a friendly and affable person when you greet them with a smile on your face and in your voice. I learnt to smile by practicing in front of the restroom mirror every morning. Despite years of practice, I still struggle and must mentally remind myself to smile. Every time I did, it worked wonders. Try it too.

8, The cloths you wear can help you build confidence. Choose cloths and colors that makes you feel strong and confident and cloths that you feel comfortable in. Remember that you are addressed the way you are dressed. I once had a boss who didn’t condone employees wearing all sort of multiple-colored attires, it was unacceptable for the quality of employees he was building for the future.

There you go! Now, go and put this to work starting the next time you step into that office.

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