Confidence in the workplace, like in life, is a skill that grows with experience, preparedness, knowledge and practise. It is not necessarily innate to everyone – hence I call it a skill. Confidence, like other skills, can be cultivated and nourished over time.
I believe that confidence is akin to experience in life in some ways, in that they can be catalysts for each other – as your life experience grows, so does your confidence. This is because the more you encounter new circumstances and situations, the more you become accustomed to them and the more you are able to face new situations – and that is, in many ways, confidence.
Similarly at work, the more you find yourself in a new role with new responsibilities and tasks, the more experience you gain and the more tools you have under your belt to get work done. And that in itself will make you feel more confident.
However, in addition to letting nature take its course and maturing in confidence over time, confidence can be cultivated with mindfulness, intention and practice, and that is true for the workplace as well.
If you do find yourself in a position with a new set of challenges and want to start cultivating your confidence quicker, there are action steps you can take to immediately put that pep in your step. These actions are:
- Planning ahead: Plan your week every Friday afternoon and plan each day that morning or in the afternoon before. That way you’ll have more focus on what you need to achieve throughout the day and will be able to tackle your tasks
head on. Preparation always increases confidence and when it comes to the workplace (for a regular day), planning is preparation.
- Be Mindful of your body Language: Adjusting your posture and body language can have an immediate effect on how confident you feel and how confident your co-workers will perceive you to be. In addition to dressing in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, when you’re in meetings, try to sit up with your back straight and not cross your arms across your chest or midriff. Smile at your colleagues and don’t walk with a hunched back.
- Ask Questions: This may seem a peculiar action item to have in such a list, but it’s true. Asking questions in the workplace, and feeling comfortable asking questions in the workplace is a sign of confidence. It shows that you’re not afraid to reveal that you don’t know everything and that you’re willing to be vulnerable about it. It also shows that you’re keen to learn from all kinds of people without being concerned about their education or background.
- Accept feedback regarding your work: As extensions from being comfortable asking questions, get comfortable with feedback and constructive criticism. Give the person handing you the feedback the benefit of the doubt and assume that their intentions are genuine and professional. Ask questions about the feedback and tips on how to improve. It’s not a bad idea to pursue feedback either, especially when you’ve completed a new task. This again shows your colleagues that you’re keen on learning and believe you’re capable and on your way to constantly improving.
- Give gracious feedback to others: Giving feedback to a co-worker is where you get to see them in a vulnerable state. Don’t abuse the privilege. When someone asks you to look over his or her work or when it is part of your role, be kind and know that a lot of effort has gone into what you’re critiquing. Similarly, have the best interest of your co-worker at heart and give them constructive feedback and action points that they can actually apply to improve. Giving useful and kind feedback is a sign of confidence because it shows that you have your co-worker’s best interest at heart and that if your co-worker’s work is outstanding (be sure to vocalise this) you are not fazed or threatened – on the contrary, you’re encouraging and pleased. Criticising your colleague’s work the minute you lay eyes on it is a sign of weakness, especially if you’re worried that they may be more talented than you.
These are some actions and behaviours you can adopt at the workplace to make you feel, and seem more confident!