Confidence is an elusive feeling – looking for love, searching for work, even standing in front of the mirror can be enough to diminish your self-confidence. While we can’t promise to improve your love life or improve your body-image, we do have a few tips and suggestions on how to feel a little more confident in a professional context.
We’ll start with something that may seem obvious to some; perspective in the workplace can help redress the aura of confidence that surrounds some colleagues. Perspective tells us that one can never know enough about any given subject to own the truth, and that includes the most forthright opinion giver in the office. So, don’t try to cram your poor brain with more and more information in the hope that it will magically make you feel confident.
Instead, know that outward confidence is a combination of knowledge, empathy, respect and excellent communication (among other things). If you have all those attributes, inner confidence should follow.
Just as knowledge can’t replace confidence, confidence certainly can’t replace knowledge (see blagging); however, balancing both is an excellent idea. Understanding more details about a professionally relevant topic is an excellent way to add value to yourself and your team; being the central point of info for a topic can also a big confidence booster. Why not read up on emerging trends that might affect your team’s work.
Aim to throw your two cents into the mix on just one topic in the next big meeting. Prepare with well-researched information (including both the positives and negatives of your suggestion) that is ironclad and near indisputable; that way you’ll not have to deal with too many arguments. And if any questions come up regarding your thoughts, you’ll know more than enough to share your insight.
Test Others’ Confidence (and Learn)
If being the focal point of a meeting sends cold shivers up your spine, you can always direct the focus of the conversation towards others. OK, so this is more about avoiding the spotlight, but it’s a good way of seeing confident people in action and learning from them. Come prepared for a meeting with a few razor-sharp questions that will force the over-zealous team members to explain their suggestions in more detail. The very best communicators will likely bring in others to the conversation and become a kind of curator of opinions.
Asking questions also has the benefit of making you think about others (just like overconfident people, wallflowers are often obsessed with how they’re viewed by others). Empathetic people usually make excellent communicators, so try to think about what others do to feel confident in the workplace; you can also ask for their advice on things like giving presentations.
Flooding (or Throwing Yourself in at the Deep End)
The psychological principle of flooding involves exposing yourself to situations that cause you anxiety (if you’re scared of snakes, hold a bunch of snakes, for example). The thought is that after an amount of exposure, the body begins to cope with the situation due to fear being a time-limited response.
In the case of workplace confidence, this could mean signing yourself up as the leader for an upcoming project or hosting a presentation on the benefits of emerging technologies. By the end of the task, you’ll almost certainly feel more confident in communicating your ideas with your team.
A word of caution, though; flooding can result in worsening phobias. Use sparingly!
Do you have any tips for improving workplace confidence? Comment below and share your ideas with the UKCBC community.
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