It is regularly reported that women lack confidence in the workplace, at alarmingly higher rates than their male counterparts. In fact, research by My Confidence Matters reported that 79% of women regularly lack confidence at work.
This is a trend that seems to exist across all levels of seniority, with 75% of women executives reporting that they have experienced imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is defined as, “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.”
Imposters suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. Imposter syndrome was first recognized in a 1978 study and remains as prominent as ever in the workplace for women!
Do you ever doubt your decisions or competence in the workplace?
Or lack the confidence to voice your opinions?
Perhaps you’ve been holding off from asking for a pay rise that you know you deserve.
I know I’ve certainly experienced these feelings at different points in my career, and so have many others! Working on your confidence at work (or generally) can be hugely beneficial for your mental health and overall performance. Here are my top five tips for building self-confidence.
Discuss Your Feelings with a Trusted Mentor
I was extremely lucky to have a fantastic mentor when I first took the role of director of a company. Being a young woman director in a male-dominated office, I certainly felt the pressure and often questioned my own ability to perform. Beginning to recognize and discuss these feelings of self-doubt was paramount in being able to overcome them.
Having a third party, a neutral mentor that had experienced similar feelings was extremely helpful in offering advice and guidance. A mentor can offer rationality in a ‘confidence crisis’ as well as perspectives and ideas that you may not have thought of to tackle workplace issues.
Celebrate Your Achievements Every Day
Naturally, we focus on problems at work – as often you are trying to find a solution to them. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in trying to tackle a workplace problem and forget about all your positive achievements. If you are feeling deflated, take the time to write down three achievements from your day or week at work.
Similarly, acknowledge that we all have strengths and weaknesses. Instead of focusing on what you believe your shortcomings are, try to focus on your strengths! If you are struggling, ask a colleague to share three positive skills they believe you have and you will often be surprised at just how valued you are.
Recognize Situations Where You Need to Build Self-Confidence and Practice
Often, there are particular situations or areas that we lack self-confidence. Reflect on your role and identify these situations and areas. Once you have recognized these, run through how you can tackle these situations with more confidence.
Can you think about them in a different way? Would additional training or practice help you? If so, discuss these options with your manager or company.
Often when we lack confidence, it is reflected in our voice and body language. This can set you into a downward spiral and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You lack confidence, you, therefore, speak quietly or act nervously, you then feel as though people do not listen to you or you performed badly, and it has a consequential knock-on effect of making you feel even less confident.
A great way to overcome this cycle is to recognize the situation before it is due to happen. Prepare your points and practice speaking out loud. Visualize the scenario and how you will perform in it. Visualization has been scientifically proven to improve performance across sports, business, and even job interviews.
Using your brain to visualize a scenario is very much like a test run for the real deal as it stimulates all the same regions of the brain as when we actually do something!
Dress to Impress
I instantly feel better when I am dressed smartly. It may sound simple but putting on your best suit or dress (or whatever you feel best in) is a great way to instantly boost your confidence. If you feel great, you are more likely to feel positive and confident.
In fact, a study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire found that your choice of outfit actually has an impact on productivity and confidence! It can be especially tempting at the moment, if you are working from home due to COVID, to stay in your PJs, but making the effort to ‘dress up’ can set you up for a day filled with the confidence of feeling great!
Finally, Be Patient.
Building your self-confidence takes time. Don’t give up. It takes time to train your brain to respond to situations differently. Try implementing these changes for at least two or three weeks. It may require perseverance to begin with, but it will quickly become your ‘norm’ if you stick at it.
Celebrate the small wins and gradually introduce new steps when you are ready! Remember that we all lack confidence sometimes and you are certainly not alone.