Self-confidence in the Workplace
Is your current level of self-confidence an asset or a liability to your career?
By David Cox, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | May 25, 2017
Self-confidence is arguably an asset throughout our lives, but it seems especially important in the workplace. It’s not easy to be appreciative of a co-worker who is ill-prepared for a meeting or a presentation. It’s hard to think of a co-worker as professional when he/she is chronically late to work. And frankly, it’s difficult to support a co-worker who mindlessly repeats the same mistakes.
The truth is, not everyone was born with self-confidence. Those who struggle with low self-confidence often feel unappreciated and find it hard to succeed. The good news is that self-confidence can be achieved with time and intentional effort. Rome was not built in a day and you will not achieve self-confidence that quickly, but once you get started, the benefits of this valuable quality will become increasingly evident.
You can easily distinguish a self-confident person from others. They stand tall and proud as they answer questions in a clear and calm manner. We feel instinctively drawn to them because they inspire others around them. It should come as no surprise that self-confident people are often more successful in their careers than those who are not.
How self-confident do you feel when working with managers, co-workers, customers, and clients? If you feel the need for improvement in this area, here a few simple ideas that could yield significant results.
Keep track of your achievements
Start a notebook of your achievements and write each one down. Whether you closed a successful sale or resolved a serious problem with a customer/client. You may have just received a raise, a promotion, or some other form of recognition. Any words of praise and encouragement you received from your superiors – write them down in your notebook.
On days when you feel down – and those days will come – flip through your notes and re-read some of your successes. They will serve as a constant reminder that you are a capable employee who can learn to accomplish anything and has already proven your ability to succeed.
Set realistic goals for yourself and stick to them. Design them to highlight your strengths rather than your weaknesses. Remember, intentionally set your goals to be specific and measurable. If not, they’re merely a wish list.
Moreover, develop the habit of framing your goals in a positive way. Rather than saying, “I can’t possibly complete this project in less than two weeks,” try saying, “I can complete this project in two weeks.” Goals framed in positive statements are more strongly reinforced in the mind because they focus on what you can do rather than on what you can’t do.
If you struggle with low self-confidence, you need to start managing the self-talk that goes on in your mind. Specifically, you need to eliminate your negative self-talk. You may feel your life and career experiences up to now have destroyed your self-confidence. Regardless, it’s time to forgive anyone you’ve blamed (including yourself), let the past go, and move on. If you insist on being stuck in the past, that’s your choice, but you’re only hurting yourself with this type of negative self-talk.
I suggest you start telling yourself the truth, which happens to be positive. Your past has already occurred and there is absolutely nothing you can ever do to change it. You cannot do anything about the career mistakes of yesterday, but you can work to do a better job today and build a better tomorrow. I can assure you that developing positive self-talk is an infinitely more worthwhile investment that will result in growing your self-confidence.
Don’t be afraid to set progressively higher goals and challenge yourself to achieve even more. Take it one step at a time at a pace that’s comfortable to you. Some people take three months while others may take six months or more. Regardless, within a matter of weeks you will notice a difference in yourself and I guarantee you will be proud of the more self-confident person you’ve become.
Consider the following questions and decide whether your current level of self-confidence is either an asset or a liability.
- Do you always behave in a manner that others expect?
- Do you manage your behavior based on what other people think?
- Do you prefer to stay in your comfort zone and avoid taking risks and avoid more challenging tasks?
- Do you often find yourself working to fix mistakes so that other people won’t notice?
- Do you feel embarrassed or ashamed every time someone points out your mistakes?
If you answered “yes” to two or more of the above questions, then it’s time you fix this. Here are just a few steps you can take.
Studies show that we are drawn to people who are confident. This is among the reasons that doctors, airline pilots, and higher academic scholars tend to be among the professionals we admire most. We appreciate their skill and knowledge, but we value their ability to apply that same skill and knowledge to the best interest of those they serve.
Receive compliments graciously
Acknowledge that you deserve the compliment because you have worked hard for it. Smile and say “Thank you. I’m proud of it as well,” rather than, “Oh, it was nothing. Anyone could have done it.” The former shows your appreciation of someone’s notice that you are striving to do a good job. Sadly, the latter gives the impression that either your contribution didn’t matter or your job is so easy anyone could do it.