Fake It Till You Make It: 10 Tips To Become More Confident At Work
Have you ever met someone, either in a personal or professional situation, and just been amazed at the level of confidence they exude? Witnessed them speak flawlessly, ask questions without hesitation, and speak up when something isn’t right? You’ve probably walked away telling yourself they were simply born with a natural social advantage that’s otherwise unachievable. However, while research suggests that we are indeed born with an innate temperament, like any skill, confidence can be cultivated and practised. And it’s not just your social life that could benefit – science tells us that increased confidence can also hold the key to career success. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at 10 steps you can take to boost your confidence at work.
1. Ask questions
You should never be afraid to ask questions when you don’t know something, as long as you’ve gone to sensible amounts of effort to source the answer yourself. Asking questions can be a great way to practise speaking confidently, increase your knowledge, and draw attention to the fact that you’re listening to others. Asking thoughtful questions can also prevent you from struggling with a task if you don’t have all the answers – something that may dent your confidence further.
2. Be kind to yourself
All too often, we’re our own harshest critics, and when we make mistakes we’ll dwell on them far longer than we should. If you’re constantly having negative thoughts about your own skills and abilities, however, it can be hard to improve. Conversely, positive self-talk has the potential to transform our mindset for the better, and can impact how successful we are in overcoming any obstacles we face. Whatever we tell ourselves – fact or fiction – will more often than not end up coming true, so be sure to remind yourself often that you’re a well-intentioned human being who happens to make mistakes sometimes.
3. Fake it
Truly building confidence will take time and practise, but who’s to stop you pretending in the meantime? Maybe there’s someone at work whose confidence you admire. Try to emulate the way they behave in certain situations, and pay attention to little details that contribute to their overall demeanour such as body language. Even if you aren’t 100% sure of yourself, act like you know your stuff and chances are, people will think you do! If you doubt yourself, remember - your knowledge has gotten you this far already. If you tell yourself that you’re confident, in time, your brain will absorb that message and you’ll begin to feel it.
4. Set yourself challenges
Insecurity loves to feed off the habit of not trying. Pushing past the unknown and expanding your boundaries can be a great way to boost your self-confidence, and prove to yourself that you’re capable of things you didn’t think were possible. Depending on your comfort levels, this might be visiting a restaurant alone and ordering a meal. It might be attending a networking event and speaking with three strangers you admire. It could be learning a joke and telling it to your colleagues to cheer them up on a Monday morning. Start small, and build from there.
5. Pay attention to your body language
Unbelievably, research into body language has actually uncovered that sitting or standing in certain power poses is actually associated with an increase in testosterone, and a decrease in stress and anxiety – both of which can facilitate greater levels of confidence. Furthermore, it can actually influence the way that others perceive you. However, if you’re going to experiment with body language, be sure to pick gestures and poses that are subtle rather than overpowering, such as slightly increasing your level of eye contact or mastering a few confident hand gestures.
6. Listen to some music
Music can wake us up in the morning and brighten up our commute, and that’s not the limit of its transformative effects on the psyche. Researchers at the Kellogg School of Management discovered that listening to the ‘right’ music – even in the background – can help us to feel more empowered. Just like athletes enter the field listening to music that pumps them up for the challenge ahead, certain songs seem to also give the rest of us a psychological coat of armour, too. Indeed, the study concluded that those who listened to a specially designed high-power playlist were twice as likely to volunteer to go first in a debate compared to those who listened to more sedate tunes.
7. Speak with confidence
Strike ‘uhm’, ‘ah’, ‘just’ and ‘this is probably a stupid question’ from your vocabulary! Believe it or not, using certain words and phrases can seriously impact how professional and capable you sound in the workplace, and scream to others that you’re lacking in self-esteem. The next time you’re speaking with someone you’re trying to impress at work, slow down, and pay attention to your word choice. Additionally, you might try recording yourself talking about topics that trigger your insecurity at home, and listen back to see how you can speak more fluently and articulately.
8. Ask for feedback
Sometimes managers or co-workers can dent our confidence without meaning to, causing us to make false assumptions about our own performance and capability. Having an honest conversation about how you’re getting on will help you to discover what you’re doing right, and what you actually do need to improve on. This will stop you worrying about imaginary flaws, and the praise will also boost your self-esteem.
9. Work on your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence, sometimes referred to as EQ, is the ability to understand and empathise with others, defuse conflict, and overcome challenges. It’s knowing how to detect and evaluate emotions in others, and respond appropriately. Having high emotional intelligence can make you better at responding to stressful situations, coming to effective resolutions when you disagree with others, and take responsibility for your own actions – all of which will have a positive impact on your self-confidence.
10. Know your worth
If you learn to value yourself, your confidence will automatically increase. When someone compliments a piece of work you’ve done or comments that you smashed a presentation, acknowledge the compliment and graciously accept it. Let yourself internalise the positive things that other people think about you, and take credit where it’s due!
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