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How to be More Confident at Work

Confidence is complex. It can even vary from day to day. One day feeling you can conquer the world, the next wondering why on earth any one would employ you. And work is one of the places where not feeling confident can impact not only how successful you are, but also how much you enjoy what you do.

What does it take to be confident?

There is research that suggests it’s made up of 50% nature and 50% nurture. This means we can shape and change how confident we feel. It’s not set in stone – we are not doomed to a life of not fulfilling our potential because we didn’t feel confident enough to ask for a promotion, apply for that dream job or ask for a pay rise.

I think of confidence like a muscle – if you don’t exercise it it becomes flabby and weak. Utilise it well and it becomes finely honed and supports you in what you want to achieve. If we can find the courage to tackle our confidence demons we can do anything.  Nelson Mandela said:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the conquering of fear”

And confidence can become a habit – the more we find the courage to speak up at a meeting, deliver a presentation or take on a piece of work we haven’t done before we are creating building blocks of confidence. This is also known as self-efficacy. A concept discovered by Albert Bandura in the 1970’s. He believed there were 4 factors that contributed to self-efficacy. These are:

  • Positive Role Models – seeing other people like you do something that you want to do can help your belief that you too can achieve it. For example, seeing someone jump from the diving board into a swimming pool without injury can help you feel confident to jump into the pool too.
  • Positive Reinforcement – hearing from others that they think you are capable of asking for that pay rise or getting the job who’ve seen advertised, can contribute to your own self belief towards whatever it is you are finding hard to do.
  • Regulating your emotional and physiological state – being able to manage your emotions when facing a new challenge is also key. Controlling your nerves or anxiety in a positive way, through breathing techniques and posture. Noticing what is going on and having strategies to cope mean you are more able to approach stepping out of your comfort zone positively.
  • Mastery – doing it, remembering it and doing it again. The more times you give a presentation or speak up in a  meeting, the easier it becomes – sure maybe nerves or anxiety still kick in but you know you can manage them. Achievement journals can be useful here as it si so easy to forget the things we have done well, and instead focus on the things that haven’t gone well. Mastery is the cornerstone of our belief in what is possible.

Other ingredients of career confidence

There are other important components of career confidence including hope – being clear about your career vision, goals and pathway to achieve it; resilience – the belief that you can survive whatever is thrown at you; and optimism – a positive outlook and an ability to focus on the positive aspects of life. We will exploring these areas in future How to be more confident blogs.

Developing a Confidence Plan

We know building and maintaining your career confidence takes work! There isn’t a quick fix – you have to keep working at developing self assurance and an authentic approach to life.

Some people feel they have to change to be confident – that they have to be louder, more extrovert, more life and soul of the party type confidence. BUT confidence can be also a be a quiet self belief that enables and includes.

  • Step one: Work out how you want to BE
  • Step two: Identify something you want to be more confident at, and plan the steps to achieve it, bearing in mind what you know about self efficacy
  • Step three: Start! There’s no time like the present to begin your confidence journey.

Next part of the Confidence Plan will be in a future blog. Need help with boosting your confidence sign up for my online course The Confidence Plan: How to be more confident at work, and use the code EARLYBIRD01 to get 20% off the price, or sign up for my Free 5 day Boost your Confidence challenge.

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Photo courtesy of Ansel [email protected]



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