When it comes to confidence, we’re sure you’ll have heard the phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. It’s an expression that can be discouraging. But if this article teaches you one thing, it will be that in order to be truly confident, it really does help to change your behaviours first.
Having confidence is a very personal thing, and it can feel different from person to person. In general, to be confident is to truly believe in your own knowledge and abilities. It means feeling assured that you are clever enough and skilled enough to be able to achieve the things you want to achieve.
When we think about what it means to be confident at work, we might think of a few different things. In order to feel fully confident at work, you need to not only feel confident that you can fulfil your job description, but also feel confident that you fit within the team and are appreciated and valued by your colleagues. Having confidence in the workplace is also about trusting your thought processes and decisions and backing yourself. It’s about not being intimidated into backing down about what you think is right, just because someone else disagrees.
Unsurprisingly, then, it takes most of us a long time to get to a place where we feel confident in all these ways. While some people are naturally quite confident and don’t feel that they are easily intimidated, we can’t help what our natural disposition is. What we can do, however, is work on our resilience in order to help us feel more confident in the long-term.
Confidence is a state of mind, but that doesn’t mean we can achieve a feeling of confidence purely by thinking. There are some thinking exercises that can help us to develop feelings of confidence. For example, we can visualise what we want to achieve and how we want to feel. We can say things to ourselves like ‘I am feeling confident,’ ‘I know I am good enough’ or ‘I am not afraid,’. The act of regularly manifesting these positive affirmations can be really valuable for our wellbeing. This is because the act of telling ourselves positive, confident things will eventually start to convince our brains to begin to believe that they are true.
However, when we are stuck in a rut and not feeling confident at all, it can be very hard to convincingly tell ourselves positive affirmations like the ones mentioned above. This is what we mean when we say that most of us can’t achieve a feeling of long-term confidence purely by thinking. There are physical actions we need to take that will help us much more. Here is our short list of behaviours you can start adopting today that will improve your confidence.
Remember what we said right at the beginning? The phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ is annoyingly helpful when we’re trying to work on our confidence. One way we can emulate confidence before we actually feel it is to dress like the person we want to be. Dressing professionally will cause other people to see you differently. A person in jeans doesn’t scream ‘manager material’, but someone dressed a little more formally might do. Plus, if you feel like you look the money, this will naturally increase your levels of confidence. We all feel great when we look great, so take pride in your appearance at work and dress for the job you want, rather than the job you currently have.
Another part of faking it ‘til you make it” involves seeing what other, more confident, people are doing, and copying it. We’re not talking about word-for-word copying or dressing identically though. Watch how confident people act in meetings, group tasks and when giving presentations. If you behave as though you are a confident person, not only will this give a clear impression to others that you are a capable, self-assured and a mature individual, but your own brain will also start to believe that your performative confidence is genuine. And what happens when our brains believe things to be true? We believe them to be true!
If your feelings of under-confidence are coming from a sense that you aren’t qualified for your job role, or that there are areas where your skills lack, the best thing to do to improve how you feel is simply to work on those under-developed skills. Feeling as though you have the capabilities to do the things asked of you at work will help your confidence to blossom. Feeling like a valuable member of the team is a great confidence builder because you’ll start to believe that the team wouldn’t be as strong without you in it.
Confident people don’t always feel comfortable in every single situation. Everyone has scenarios where they feel more comfortable than others, such as sat at their desk, rather than stood in front of a group and giving a presentation. Having confidence doesn’t mean all those icky anxious feelings will go away forever. What will happen, however, is that you will enable yourself to control them and prioritise your goals over your anxieties. And of course, there will be some things you never feel comfortable doing, but you will get used to them in time and they will feel a bit easier.
What you can do to keep those icky anxious feelings at bay is practise doing those things that make you feel uncomfortable and get used to putting yourself in those uncomfortable situations. Eventually, things that once seemed out of the question for you will feel run of the mill. This will give you confidence because you can look back on where you were and where you are now, and see how much you have achieved.
If we tell ourselves negative things about who we are and what we are capable of, our brains will start to believe those things.
Eliminate negative language, but don’t stop talking altogether! The trick is to replace those negative phrases with positive ones. If you aren’t a very confident member of your workforce, it’s time to start speaking up more and voicing your opinion. Confidence can be quiet, but in a workplace context, it is of more valuable to you to use your voice and get your opinions and ideas heard. It will help you get recognised for the work you are doing in your current role, and also work to your advantage when applying for future jobs.
So now you know what you need to do to improve your confidence at work, it’s time to put the theory into practise.
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