5 Ways to be More Confident at Work
It’s no secret that more confident people get noticed more. If you stand out from the crowd, you’re more likely to get that promotion, and wallflowers don’t stand out.
Some people are gifted with confidence, seeming to have had it since birth, but others have to work at it. The great Muhammad Ali, who oozed supreme confidence, was an expert in confidence.
He knew he was the best before anyone else did, and that’s how he managed to become the man we remember him as today. “To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best”, he said. You don’t need to be a heavy hitter or a star athlete to have that kind of confidence, but utilizing that kind of mindset can be beneficial in any walk of life.
Here are 5 ways to improve your confidence at work and bring out your inner Ali:
1. Stop Self-Deprecating
You may not be familiar with the term, but you’ve almost certainly done it at some point. Self-deprecation is the act of criticising or minimising yourself or your actions, and it’s holding you back.
Have you ever been working on something for months and then when you’ve finally presented it, made it like it was nothing? Have you ever made a joke at your own expense? Have you ever undersold yourself? If so, you’re guilty of self-deprecation.
Stop undermining yourself and shooting your own pitches down before you’ve even put them out there, and definitely stop saying sorry when it’s not necessary.
This doesn’t mean not apologising when you’ve done something wrong, but not peppering your sentences with it out of politeness, such as ‘sorry, can I just ask you something?’ Don’t be sorry, be confident! It will make people respect you more.
We self-deprecate as a defence mechanism against criticism, almost as if to say ‘you don’t need to give me any negative feedback, I already know how rubbish I am’.
And we do it before anyone has even said anything. Sometimes, it’s done as a way of fishing for compliments. A lot of people do it in a humorous way, but if you’re one of those people, you have to ask yourself if you’re really doing it just for laughs or if it comes from some kind of insecurity or a need for validation.
Challenge yourself to make a phone call to a colleague or your boss, making a suggestion. It could even be to meet up for a coffee, but they key is not to use any self-deprecating language, like ‘I don’t know if it’s worth mentioning’, ‘I was just thinking’, or anything else that makes you sound like you’re unsure of yourself. You’d be surprised how hard it is to stop yourself.
Once you realise how much you do it and how ingrained into your brain it is, you can start to eliminate it. Make a conscious effort to use more positive, empowering language and you’ll start to see results.
2. Include Other People
No one likes feeling left out, and when people do, it can start to cause rifts and even resentment which eventually grow into bigger problems in the workplace. In any group setting, look around and try to notice when people are being excluded from the conversation.
If someone is being ignored or interrupted, step in and ask them for their opinion or to finish what they were saying. You’ll notice that they will be more empowered, will open up, and will then start to do the same for you.
In the end, everyone will be happier. People will see you as a team player as well, and that’s always good. Nurturing your colleagues benefits you as well as them.
3. Take Credit for Your Own Work,
It’s OK to take pride in doing things yourself. You don’t need to chalk everything up to ‘the team’ all the time. You can’t expect people to give you credit if you wont give it to yourself, and when you do, people will take more notice of you.
4. Don’t Feel like an Impostor
Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you’re a fraud and that sooner or later everyone is going to find out and it will all come crashing down. While it’s usually experienced by high-achievers, it’s not limited to them. It sounds rather extreme, but it’s more prevalent than you may think.
Tom Hanks and Emma Watson have both admitted to experiencing it, and one study found that 70% of all people feel like frauds or imposters at some point in their lives.
Know that your achievements have been made of your own merit, not because of luck or coincidence or just knowing the right people. Accept that you have played a role in your success, and that you deserve it.
Stop comparing yourself to other people. Fake it ’til you make it, and realise that most people around you are doing the same thing. Don’t hold your peers or superiors up on pedestals, thinking of them as experts or geniuses.
Most of them are just trying to figure things out as they go along, just like you are.
5. Change your Body Language
In a TED Talk by social psychologist Amy Cuddy, ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are‘, she spoke about how altering our body language can not only change how much power and dominance we have, but also the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, namely testosterone and cortisol, to improve how we feel.
Some examples of powerful body language include taking a wide stance, standing up straight, lifting the chin and outstretching the arms. In response to this, other people in the office are likely use less powerful poses, making themselves smaller, rather than mirroring or challenging you.
Our non-verbal language has been proven to change how other people see and respond to us, but it also changes how we feel about ourselves, and that’s the key.
Cuddy says, ‘if you pretend to feel powerful, you’re more likely to actually feel powerful’, and it’s true because it makes those brain chemicals kick in. Don’t be afraid to take up space. Try using a few power poses in the office and see if it makes you feel more confident.