Do you consider yourself to be pretty self-assured at work? If you’re shrugging right now, I can’t blame you.
When your professional life involves nerve-wracking tasks and trials like asking your boss for a raise, sharing your ideas in a team meeting, or speaking up about a conflict or issue that needs to be resolved, there’s no shortage of instances that can inspire doubt and send your self-esteem into a steady nosedive.
But, here’s the thing: If you want to foster a positive reputation and build a thriving career for yourself, a little bit of confidence goes a long way.
How can you give your own a boost? Here are a few things to try — whether you’re currently feeling defeated or just want to be proactive.
1. Recognize (and squelch) your negative self-talk.
We’re all familiar with that nasty little voice — you know the one. She chimes in at inopportune times to whisper snide remarks that do nothing but make you feel completely worthless.
It happens to all of us, and sometimes — rarely, but sometimes — that’s actually our conscience telling us that opportunity just isn’t a good fit.
But, most of the time? That voice is just the mean girl in the cafeteria telling you that you aren’t smart enough, popular enough, or pretty enough to pull something off. That you can’t.
I’ll be the first to admit that negative self-talk can be deafening at times — making it pretty hard to silence altogether. However, the first step involves simply recognizing when it happens so that you can nip it in the bud.
What next? I really love this tip from Seth Godin about adding “yet” onto the end of any sentences that start with the word “I can’t.”
For example, it’s not that you can’t tackle that challenging project — it’s that you can’t quite do it yet. That simple little trick transforms that negative internal chatter from unproductive put downs to something that’s actually constructive.
2. Flip the script on constructive criticism.
Speaking of being constructive, we all know that feedback can be hard to hear and respond to. It’s a brutal reminder that you aren’t flawless (spoiler alert: nobody is), and that notion can quickly undermine any confidence you’ve managed to muster.
Changing the way you think about constructive criticism will not only help you constantly improve, but it’ll also prevent that input from completely destroying your perception of yourself.
You could think this thought when presented with feedback: “This person hates my work. I really blew it, and they’re here to let me know it.”
Or, you could think this: “This person is invested enough in my growth and development that they’re willing to spend the time and energy to help me take steps forward.”
If somebody is willing to sink that much attention into what you’re doing, it must mean you bring something pretty important and valuable to the table, right? That itself is a nice confidence boost.
3. Celebrate your wins.
What does your average workday look like? Do you power through your to-do list —checking off one item after the next? That’s awesome.
But, are you ever taking any time to celebrate the things that you do complete and accomplish? Or, are you too concerned with what you have to do next?
Celebrating ourselves feels strange at best, but taking even a couple of minutes to step back and soak in all of the great work that you’ve already done serves as a solid reminder that you really do achieve some awesome things in your role — even if there are still a bunch of tasks left on your list.
4. Build a better relationship with your boss.
Wait… your boss? You definitely don’t want to run to your manager every time you need a little ego stroking, so how could they possibly be involved in this process?
Well, making the effort to forge a better bond with your boss gives you that added reassurance that you have a valuable advocate in your corner. You have someone who is aware of what you’re working on, invested in your growth, and is willing to go to bat for you when it becomes necessary.
When it comes to taking on work that’s outside of your comfort zone or handling tough conversations, ultimately nothing pumps up your confidence more than knowing that your superior has your back.
Nothing pumps up your confidence more than knowing that your superior has your back.
5. Return to something you know you’re good at.
In those moments when you’re feeling particularly low and defeated, circle back to your core strengths. What are you ridiculously, undeniably good at?
While you don’t want your whole career to be easy breezy and full of work that you could do with your eyes closed, sometimes returning to those tasks is a good touchstone to remind you that you really do have valuable skills and knowledge — not everything is new and scary to you.
So, whether you’re the master of creating a killer spreadsheet or know that you can mail merge with the best of them, take a few minutes to do something you’re awesome at when you’re feeling down.
6. Talk about your doubts and concerns.
Personally, when I’m feeling awful about myself and my own capabilities, I tend to want to keep to myself. I don’t want to be the buzzkill who drags everybody down.
But, do you know what I’ve discovered? Talking about how I’m feeling or sharing any doubts I’m currently experiencing actually helps. Not only does it allow me to get those toxic thoughts out of my brain, but it also means that the people I share them with end up rallying around me and becoming my cheerleaders.
Do you always want to burden others for the sake of an ego boost? Of course not. However, being open about those moments of self-doubt helps you step back and get some much-needed perspective.
Confidence at work can be fickle. One day you feel like you’re knocking things out of the park, and the next day you feel like you’re hardly qualified to organize your paper clips.
Looking for a way to shut out those self-deprecating thoughts and raise your self-assuredness a little? Try one (or even a few) of these tips, and you’ll walk into the office with your head held high.