Confidence at Work

Confidence at WorkIt's impossible to feel confident all the time. Even the greatest sports figures suffer from bouts of low self-confidence. It's like mood - no one is in a good or bad mood all the time. It shifts from day to day. The best we can do is work at it continuously, not aiming to feel confident all the time, just trying to feel confident more often than not.

Many things in life cause our confidence to go up or down. Whenever there is a significant organizational change, for example, many employees feel a loss of confidence. The strength of their negative reaction is often a reflection of how threatened they feel and how strongly it might be affecting their confidence. 

Here are some factors that could be affecting your confidence:

  • I may be taking myself too seriously.
  • I have some strong self-limiting beliefs.
  • My role might not be needed in future.
  • The new direction doesn't play to my strengths.
  • I'm not sure I can meet the new demands placed on me.
  • I just don't see the benefits of recent changes.
  • New senior people have come in who have no allegiance to me.
  • New technology is making me feel out of step.
  • We're supposed to be more innovative, but I'm not very creative.
  • Younger people with new skills are being promoted past me.
  • Many of my peer group are gone and I miss their support.
  • My boss, who was my greatest sponsor, has left.
  • We've recently been acquired and I'm feeling stifled.
  • Do you feel like an impostor? Not really deserve to be where you are? 
  • I feel oppressed by my ''shoulds'' and ''musts''

Steps for Improving Your Confidence

The first step is to move from GLOBAl judgements to more specific ones so that you stop saying that you lack confidence in general and, instead, identify the specific areas where you most lack confidence.

Pick 1 to 3 areas to work on. The most important step is to reframe how you see the situation. For instance, if you're a bit of a perfectionist, maybe your standards are too high. Maybe no one could achieve anything sufficiently well to meet your expectations. Would it help to convince yourself that you can be confident if you are good enough, which is compatible with making some mistakes? Nobody's perfect.

Next, try to break down what you need to do into small steps for better learning and to achieve a sense of making progress. Recognize that it'll take hard work over an extended period of time to get good at anything new. Make sure that you get comfortable with taking risks and making a few mistakes. You won't get to first base if you expect yourself to excel immediately.

Get regular feedback from a supportive partner or friend who'll encourage you to keep trying. Try to avoid too much introspection. Thinking about possible failure is a great way to undermine your confidence and keep you in your rut.

Make sure you don't compare yourself exclusively to people who are real stars or experts, but rather to people like yourself who, like you, may be OK at some things but not so hot at other things. Try to like yourself as you are by making a list of all the good things you have done or achieved, making sure that you don't too quickly leap into negative self-talk, running yourself down before you've taken enough time to list all of your good qualities.

Obsolescence Concerns

If you feel your skills are becoming outdated do a thorough assessment of your strengths and, more importantly, identify some internal customers with needs you can fill, making sure you are in a slot where there supply is lower than demand and where you can make a solid contribution. Another option, is to develop some new skills. The worst option is to remain stuck where you are just hoping that you can get by without being noticed. Your confidence will still suffer because you won't be able to rid yourself of the feeling of being left behind. Beware of taking a blame-oriented approach, criticizing changes that you resent because they leave you behind. This will only call attention to your obsolescence.

Relationship Issues

It is easy to get comfortable relating to a small circle of colleagues and to feel lost when they depart. it's imperative to build new relationships even though people might seem like strangers. Pick a few to start and show interest in them, find out there interests and look for common ground. Maintain contact. This is especially important to do with new bosses. A common mistake with a new boss is to isolate oneself. Keep in mind that a new boss is vulnerable too and looking for signs of rejection or approval. Avoiding a new boss will just make things worse for you.

Musts and Shoulds

We tend to beat ourselves by saying that I "must" be able to do this or I "should" be better at this. Yes, wanting to improve yourself is fine, but make sure you aren't setting yourself perfectionistic standards or comparing yourself only to role models who are too exceptional.

How are your self-limiting beliefs undermining your confidence and keeping you tied to your comfort zone?

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