Self-confidence is vital to reach your full potential in the workplace and enjoying career happiness. Yet for many, lack of confidence hinders success and prevents opportunities.
Understanding what confidence is, the causes and signs of low self-confidence are the first stages of improvement. You can then build your self-confidence through simple and practical steps.
What is Self-Confidence at Work?
Confidence is when you trust and believe in your own abilities. You convey this to others through your actions and language.
Low self-esteem vs low self-confidence is often confused. The two are linked and one can influence the other. Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself overall, your self-worth or self-belief. You could have overall high self-esteem, but feel low confidence in a particular situation.
The mental health charity Mind offer suggestions for how to build high self-esteem. You can improve your self-esteem to build confidence.
What is the importance of self-confidence in the workplace? Kaplan Professional Education show that self-confidence makes you more assertive, more likely to push your boundaries, take on challenges and makes you a more effective communicator. Self-confidence is also critical when considering a career transition or as a new entrepreneur. Feeling low confidence at work can inhibit your performance and success.
What Are the Causes of Low Self- Confidence?
Most of us would like to be more confident at work. Research by My Confidence Matters has shown that over 73 percent of women feel they regularly lack confidence in the workplace.
“You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can’t have it.” – Robert Anthony
Psychology Today shows low confidence can be caused by a variety of factors. Studies have shown between 25 to 50 percent of the personality traits linked to confidence may be inherited. Life experiences such as parenting style, trauma or bullying can also affect your self-confidence.
Humiliating experiences in the workplace, such as harassment or disrespect, can affect your self-esteem at work and make you doubt your abilities.
The modern environment in which we live can have a huge impact on your self-esteem. From marketing and advertising images to the constant barrage of social media. We are bombarded with ideas of perfection and many of us feel inadequate in comparison.
Psychologies Magazine provides a self-confidence test to measure how confident you feel. Knowing your current level of confidence is the first step to acceptance and developing strategies for building confidence at work.
How to Build Self-Confidence at Work
Here are our top 5 tips for building self-confidence at work, particularly if you are going through a career change or starting your entrepreneurial journey:
1. Strengthen your skills. Build on your existing skills and develop new ones through personal development activities. Any change requires learning.
2. Focus on past strengths- focus on what you have done well in the past as evidence of your abilities. It’s good to remind yourself of your transferable skills during change.
3. Set Challenging Goals- setting yourself long and short term goal can help you to focus on a challenge rather than feeling overwhelmed. Feeling a sense of achievement as you work towards your goals will boost your confidence.
4. Ask questions- if you’re unsure of anything ask for clarification. Uncertainty and getting something wrong can impact your confidence.
5. Dress for success- it may seem clichéd, but research has shown how you dress affects how you think about yourself and the perception of others.
Sometimes there may be more deeply ingrained psychological factors impacting your feelings of low-confidence. Imposter syndrome, perfectionism and negative self-talk are three common culprits. We’ll look at these in more details and offer further confidence in the workplace tips.
Imposter Syndrome and Self-Confidence
Imposter syndrome is when you do not feel confident in your abilities. You often feel like a fraud and fear you may be found out. You attribute your success to external factors, such as luck.
Imposter syndrome can impact your work resulting in procrastination, self-sabotage and a reluctance to put yourself forward for opportunities.
Causes of imposter syndrome may have developed in childhood. Environmental factors, such as a new job or launching a new business can trigger imposter syndrome. It's estimated 70% of people experience imposter syndrome at one point in their life.
“The only way to stop feeling like an impostor is to stop thinking like an impostor”- Dr Valerie Young, imposter syndrome expert.
Dr Young suggests some practical self-confidence tips to overcome imposter syndrome including:
· Develop a health response to failure. Those without imposter syndrome are no more intelligent or capable. But they do recognise you can't be brilliant at everything and that’s ok. Experiencing failure is a learning opportunity and nothing to feel ashamed about.
· Fake it, ‘til you make it! If you act confident, you will eventually start to feel confident. Don’t wait until you feel fully confident, put yourself out there and learn as you go.
· Ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness to need help. Asking for help is a great way to build relationships, develop new skills and see things from a different, non-imposter syndrome, perspective
Perfectionism and Self-Confidence
Perfectionism can be a positive trait, setting healthy personal standards that are adaptable and where failure is acceptable. Unhealthy (maladaptive) perfectionism is when you have intense self-depreciation for not meeting your own unrealistic and inflexible standards.
Research shows imposter syndrome often goes hand in hand with unhealthy perfectionism, and more so if you suffer from low self-esteem. Perfectionism can lead to anxiety, depression, stress and burnout.
GoodTherapy.org offer effective confidence-building exercises to overcome perfectionism:
· Challenge “all or nothing” thoughts. Everyone has flaws, and one mistake does not ruin the good progress you’ve made towards your goal.
· Journal positive affirmations. Write down positive affirmations, particularly about areas in which you feel the most pressure to be a perfectionist. Place them somewhere you see them often.
· Try a new hobby. Learning something new often means making mistakes. Try to enjoy the learning process rather than focussing on the end goal.
· Take baby steps. Break your goals down into baby steps and reward yourself for the small successes along the way.
Tuning out your inner critic for increased self-confidence
We often have nagging thoughts about being not good enough, casting doubts on our goals and accomplishments.
Negative self-talk criticises, belittles and judges us. Your inner critic can sabotage your success at work. It can prevent you from living the life you want to live and from being the person you aspire to be.
Often based on early life experiences, your inner critic can cause a great deal of harm to your psychological wellbeing. If your inner critic were an actual person you would avoid them like the plague!
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Positive Psychology suggests using Acceptance Commitment Therapy to quieten your inner critic and increase confidence at work:
· Identify- identify your inner critic so you know when its negative self-talk.
· Label- give your inner critic an identity, even a name (mine’s called Stacy). This creates distance and allows you to be more objective.
· Observe without judgement- observe your thoughts without judgement and remember they are not reality.
· Let go- do not act on the directions of your inner critic. Instead, you could think “oh that’s just Stacy talking rubbish again” and move on.
How to coach yourself for the confidence to handle fear
Fear is often caused by low self-confidence. Fear can stop you from reaching your potential and achieving success. The good news is you can coach yourself to develop self-confidence and the attitude to handle your fears.
Fear of change- We fear change because we do not know the outcome. This Wall Street International article suggests 7 strategies for overcoming your fear of change.
Fear of rejection-Humans are biologically wired to want to belong to a social group. Fear of rejection plays on our deepest fears of not belonging. An unpleasant experience we want to avoid. Confidence can help us to accept the fear of rejection. This article from Entrepreneur.com offer 4 strategies for reframing and overcoming your fear of rejection.
Need for approval- The need to seek approval from others is also a by-product of low-confidence. Rather than looking internally for content and self-esteem, you may seek external approval and validation. Psychology Today provides further insight and solutions to this behaviour by posing questions to discover your own values, principles and goals.
“If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.” – Author Unknown
How to feel sustainably self-confident
Sometimes you need to find a short burst of confidence to get you through a presentation or a job interview. But it's important to feel sustainably confident in the long term.
· Keep a confidence journal - record previous occasions when you felt confident, your successes and a time when you made great progress towards challenging goals. Remind yourself of your abilities and offer a fact-based counter-argument to your inner critic.
· Replay your best moments- take time to remember your successes and when you felt confident. Remember what you did and how good it felt.
· Be clear on your goals and your vision for the future. If you feel your confidence start to falter, remember what you are working towards. During a career change or when starting your own business you can feel a loss of confidence, focussing on why you made the bold move can help you to maintain the confidence to succeed.
Strengthening Your Money Mindset
Money mindset is the, often subconscious, beliefs you hold about money. Money mindset determines your approach to earning, saving, spending and sharing your money.
Your money mindset can be either one of scarcity or abundance. In a scarcity mindset, you fear money is limited. You may feel you do not have enough money and have little control. With an abundance mindset, you feel comfortable and confident there will always be enough money. You believe in your ability to make and manage money effectively.
Money mindset is important during a career transition or at the start of an entrepreneurial journey. When your income may reduce or become uncertain, an abundance money mindset will maintain your confidence in being able to manage such change and your ability to succeed financially.
Financial Gym suggests 4 ways to strengthen your abundance of money mindset:
Take an inventory- realise what you already have and practice gratitude
Stop Comparing- comparison leads to negatively. Instead, use others as inspiration
Focus on Growth- a scarcity mindset is a fixed mindset. Focus on problem solving and growth
Use affirmations- retrain your brain and change your money story
Low-self-confidence can negatively impact your work life, reducing your performance and opportunities. Fortunately, there are simple and practical ways you can self-coach to improve different aspects of low-confidence. A career happiness coach can help take your improvement to the next level.
At Zest Ambition we will positively challenge some thoughts you may have about yourself. Thoughts that get in your own way and that you may have accepted and never questioned before. This is how we progressively start unlocking your potential.