Building your confidence at work

DSC Associate Trainer and author, Chrissie Wright, shares her top tips for feeling more confident at work.

The thing about confidence is that it is a quality we often perceive and admire in others but feel we don’t possess enough of in ourselves – and – why does confidence even matter to us? Well, we all know that to move on in our lives, a strong sense of confidence and self-esteem allows us to go out in the world and reach for our goals; it helps to have that inspiring feeling of ‘can do’; the motivation to get up and have a go, despite the odds against us, despite our fears. Unfortunately, confidence cannot be packaged or bottled; it is that intangible quality that we know in our bodies when we feel it: positive energy, physical strength, hope and optimism are just some of the feelings we may experience. And of course, we know the opposite physical manifestations when we don’t feel confident; lacking in energy and so on. 

We all have good days and bad days and even those who appear to be most confident will confess to down days, failures and setbacks – all part of being human. The good news is that we can practise and develop our confidence and bear in mind that too much confidence or over-confidence will not serve us well, especially in the workplace: it can mean that we do not have a realistic grasp of our levels of ability, may appear arrogant and not concerned with the needs of others and therefore not good at building relationships.  

The following key steps will help to develop and grow the right level of confidence in the workplace and all aspects of life: 

1. Build self-esteem

Get to know yourself – what is important to you – what makes you happy and what do you value in life. Set yourself challenging but realistic goals that serve your values, circumstances and aspirations. Challenge unkind thoughts about yourself and identify and celebrate past successes. Be sure to measure your own success against your own goals and avoid comparing yourself to others. Don’t be afraid to try out and learn new things.  

2. Take some risks

It could be said that the most important aspect of confidence is your preparedness to have a go – to allow yourself to leave your comfort zone – even though your brain may be telling you to hold back and stay safe because our survival instinct tells us to go towards comfort, away from pain. But each time you see yourself take a risk and move through an obstacle or setback, you build confidence in your ability to do so, and this helps you overcome the fear of failure. By taking risks, you give yourself the opportunity to learn, to grow, to test your limits, and to see what you are capable of. 

 3. Change  your thinking to manage your feelings

The good news is that confidence is mainly a feeling, and we can change the way we feel by managing our thinking. Is your glass half empty or half full?  Try to see the positive and turn thoughts like, ‘can’t’, ‘I know it won’t work’, ‘tried this before’, ‘I’m not good enough for this’ to ‘I’m not afraid to have a go’, ‘I know I have had past successes’, ‘whatever the outcome, this is a chance to learn’ ‘I know I can do this’. 

It’s not always easy to do but we have this amazing power to change how we feel. 

4. Develop relationships with colleagues

Taking time to be with colleagues means building supportive networks and creating new possibilities. Good relationships rely on good communication, whether face-to-face, on the telephone or email. Being open, honest and professional helps establish trust and rapport. Build confidence by developing assertive skills to be able to be open and honest in the most constructive way. Be a good listener as well as a good communicator. 

5. Accept support and be supportive

Offering up your time, experience and expertise proves your value and can help build positive relationships. So be proactive, help others and if there’s an opportunity to assist with something – take it. As well as offering up your own expertise, don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. Generally, people are happy to offer support and like to feel helpful so take advantage of their skills and knowledge. Get feedback from colleagues and friends – sometimes others see potential in us that we don’t see in ourselves.  

6. Be kind to yourself

You are human – pause and pay attention to your feelings. Develop your resilience by dealing with setbacks and paying attention to your well-being. Take time out to look after yourself, doing the things you enjoy and connecting with friends and family as well as focusing on work. 

Our confidence journey continues throughout life and the more you can bring the real you to work with energy and commitment, the more confident you will be. Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong. 

About Chrissie Wright

Chrissie is a master trainer and coach with over 30 years of experience in management development and communication skills.

As Head of Communication Skills at The Industrial Society for 20 years, Chrissie managed the team responsible for delivering training, education and advisory services for high profile clients in the commercial, industrial, financial, public and voluntary sectors. Chrissie then spent several years with Capita Learning and Development as Manager of the Communication Skills team. She went on to join DSC as Training Manager, where she remained until becoming an independent training consultant.

Chrissie wrote the Speed Read Confidence at Work which looks at the tools at your disposal in order to be more personally effective and to reinforce your self-esteem at the same time. Take a look here.