Talking Points

A confident young professional woman dressed in smart clothes in an office work environment.

Career tips: How to build confidence at work

Have you ever sat in a work meeting, stifling your thoughts and ideas out of fear? You’re far from alone.

Whether fresh out of university or early in your professional journey, that nagging sense of needing more knowledge or authority to make a valuable contribution is a familiar hurdle to overcome.

The initial stages of a career often come with a confidence struggle that can hinder the pursuit of ambitious career goals.

However, you’ll be glad to learn that confidence at work is a skill that can be developed.

Join us as we explore the topic of workplace confidence and explain how to build it — equipping you with the tools you need to stride boldly toward your dream career.

Why is confidence important in the workplace?

Let’s start by looking at why confidence is beneficial in the workplace.

Self-confidence liberates your mind from worries, enabling you to concentrate on tasks and enjoy a more productive working day.

You’ll also be more inclined to contribute in meetings, participate in group activities, deliver impactful presentations, and assert yourself when aspects of work aren’t meeting your expectations.

These positive actions can boost your happiness in the work environment (and beyond) and foster a carefree, confident attitude that extends to your interactions with colleagues and management.

A confident approach also leads to professional growth and advancement. For instance, while not contributing in meetings may go unnoticed, your active engagement and valuable input are memorable.

When stepping up, sharing your insights, and contributing meaningfully, you place yourself on your manager’s radar for future opportunities and responsibilities.

What causes low confidence at work?

Low confidence at work can have various causes, but inexperience outweighs most, affecting young professionals across all sectors.

Another significant factor is a perceived need for more expertise. It impacts professionals in new roles, particularly those receiving inadequate employer support and training.

In the contemporary work landscape, imposter syndrome casts a long shadow, too.

While 54% of men claim immunity, the reality is that almost half of men and a striking 72% of women grapple with imposter syndrome at work, with symptoms typically starting at around age 23.

Imposter syndrome has a significant impact on a person’s presence. Individuals under its sway often struggle to believe in themselves, leading to a reluctance to share ideas, speak up, or seek assistance to attain their career goals.

How to improve confidence at work

A happy, confident young professional Indian man in smart attire, looking straight at the camera.

Gaining confidence at work isn’t as difficult as you might think. Employ these tactics and reap the workplace benefits self-assurance can deliver.

Gain more knowledge

You can successfully boost your confidence at work by continuously expanding your skillset. The more you know, the more self-reliant you will become.

Maximise the potential of internal training opportunities, address knowledge gaps with your manager, and contemplate enrolling in courses to enrich your capabilities for present and future roles.

Staying informed of the latest developments is also crucial to self-assurance in rapidly evolving industries. Adapting seamlessly to the dynamic landscape will give your employers confidence in you, too.

Be inspired

Harness the power of observation within your workplace or industry, narrowing your focus on confident individuals.

Select one or more colleagues to watch and let their examples guide your confidence journey.

In meetings, keenly observe their interactions and communication style. Pay attention to how they convey ideas, give direction, and receive feedback.

Notice their clothes, too — whether they use them to bolster their self-assurance or reflect their inner confidence, consider integrating elements into your office wardrobe.

By adopting strategies employed by your confident counterparts, you’ll experience a transformation. Not only will you feel a positive shift within yourself, but you’ll also see a change in how others perceive and interact with you.

If your employer offers a mentorship scheme, we recommend signing up. A mentor will aid you in bettering yourself professionally, which will boost your confidence and lead to further workplace success.

Dress for success

You may be familiar with the adage, “Dress for the role you aspire to, not the one you currently hold”. This simple motto holds remarkable potential for advancing your career if it aligns with the norms of your industry.

What you wear for work can substantially influence the perceptions of those around you, including colleagues and managers. Embracing the concept of power dressing communicates a sense of authority and influence that’s impossible to ignore.

Your choice of clothing impacts your self-perception, too. Dressing in a way that makes you feel good instils a heightened sense of confidence and self-assuredness.

If you have sensory needs, ensure your work clothes are suitable so you’re not distracted by a label or scratchy fabric while working.

Step outside your comfort zone

Change doesn’t happen within a comfort zone, so you must boldly venture beyond these boundaries and propel yourself forward to foster workplace confidence.

Start this journey by setting a small challenge with minimal risk, like voicing a neutral opinion in a team meeting. As you overcome more minor challenges, gradually work up to bigger ones.

With every triumph, you’ll feel a surge of pride that will inspire you to keep pushing yourself.

Reflect on past successes

On days when your self-confidence is low, boost yourself by revisiting past accomplishments at work.

Recall the satisfaction of meeting a demanding deadline, the enjoyment of receiving exceptional feedback from your supervisor, or the elation of clinching new business during a pivotal meeting.

Remembering these victories can reignite your self-belief and push you to overcome hurdles with renewed determination.

Learn from mistakes

We’re all human, and mistakes do sometimes happen. If your confidence wavers, your instinctual response to errors might involve excessive dwelling and self-criticism.

To break free from this cycle, start by acknowledging the mistake. Dedicate time to correcting it (when possible), investigate its causes, and devise pre-emptive measures to prevent it from happening again. Could the implementation of a policy assist others in sidestepping similar pitfalls?

Share your insights with the relevant individuals at your workplace — your honesty and determination won’t go unnoticed. This transparent gesture will boost your confidence around making mistakes while assuring others that you’ve exceeded expectations to avoid future mishaps.

Find the right employer

The key to unlocking confidence in the workplace can be as simple as finding the right employer.

A study by Indeed unveiled that 97% of workers believe feeling valued by their employer boosts their confidence.

A job where you receive no feedback on your work or support to better yourself in your role will lead to you losing any confidence you started with.

In contrast, a working environment where you’re recognised, appreciated, rewarded, and surrounded by a strong team will have you oozing confidence from your pores.

If you don’t feel valued in your current role, look for a new opportunity. During interviews, closely observe how you’re treated, as it can offer valuable insight into the senior team’s attitudes.

This strategic approach can guide you toward an employer who treats you well and fuels your self-assurance.

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