Mental Health

How to Be More Confident at Work

There are many reasons behind an individual’s success at work, but confidence undoubtedly ranks among the top reasons. If you’re someone who struggles with self-doubt, learn how to have confidence in the workplace.

By URLife Team
05 Jun 2024

One of the tricky parts of working is figuring out what you're good at and where you feel comfortable. Once you find that sweet spot, you are better positioned to act on available opportunities. 

Take Sonia, for instance. She excelled at her job as a graphic designer and felt comfortable with her daily tasks. However, when a new project came up that required project management skills, she was hesitant. She worried about her lack of experience in that area. However, by seeing the challenge as an opportunity to grow, she not only learned new skills but built her confidence.


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Boosting your self-confidence goes beyond just repeating positive affirmations or adjusting your body language. It involves facing your insecurities, dealing with self-doubt, and quieting negative self-talk. Once you tackle these challenges, you can start growing into your potential and revitalising your career.


Related story: 6 Daily Practices To Nurture Your Self-Confidence


Why Do We Feel Shy at Work?

Shyness is a mix of awkwardness, anxiety, and stress during social interactions, especially with new people. Feeling shy is a natural response to new situations. Past experiences can amplify this social anxiety. The intensity of shyness varies. 

  • For some, it’s just a brief moment of nervousness, like sweaty palms or butterflies in the stomach. For others, it can be overwhelming and persistent.
  • Being bullied during your schooling years might make you hesitant to draw attention to yourself, or a bad public speaking experience could make you uncomfortable sharing ideas in team meetings.

Shyness often begins in childhood. Studies show that children of shy or anxious parents are likely to exhibit similar traits. Genetics play a role too. A 2021 study by the University of Queensland, Australia, about 20 per cent of people are naturally predisposed to shyness. Other factors include socioeconomic status and body image.

You might not realise that shyness is what's holding you back at work. However, this lack of confidence could be the reason for your stalled career progress. Here are some scenarios that might cause workplace shyness:

  • Less experience: You feel less experienced compared to your peers.
  • New job: You just started a new job and haven’t had the chance to get to know your colleagues.
  • Intimidating teammates: Your new teammates seem intimidating, and you’re nervous about sharing your ideas.
  • Inner critic: You struggle to silence your inner critic and often ruminate instead of practising self-compassion.

If any of these situations sound familiar, take a moment to ask yourself: “Am I feeling unconfident at work?” Recognising this is the first step to overcoming shyness and building your confidence.


Related story: Easy Ways To Spread Joy At Workplace

Why is Confidence Important in The Workplace? 

A 2020 analysis of working professionals issued in the paper HRDrive shows that 98 percent of all employees performed better when they felt more confident. A 2021 study in the European Journal of Social Psychology suggests that being self-aware leads to greater satisfaction with past decisions and the confidence to make future ones. 

  • Improves performance: When you believe in your abilities, you're more likely to tackle tasks with enthusiasm and determination. This confidence translates into higher productivity and better performance, as you're less likely to second-guess your decisions and more likely to take initiative.
  • Remarkable resilience: Confidence helps you handle setbacks and challenges more effectively. Instead of being paralysed by failure or criticism, confident people view these experiences as opportunities for growth and learning. This resilience is vital for navigating the ups and downs of any career.
  • Refines leadership potential: Self-confidence is a key trait of effective leaders. It allows you to inspire and motivate others, make decisive choices, and handle the responsibilities that come with leadership roles. Even if you’re not in a leadership position, confidence can help you take on more responsibility and demonstrate your potential to those in higher positions.


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5 Simple Ways To Develop Confidence At Work

Focusing on your strengths can improve your work performance and build confidence. When you do what you’re good at, you’re more likely to produce high-quality work, feel more satisfied with your job, and receive positive feedback from colleagues and supervisors. 

Here are five proven strategies to help you develop your confidence and self-worth:

1.  Rely on Your Strength

When you lack confidence, focusing on your strengths is a much more effective way to boost your professional self-worth. By counting on what you excel at, you can show up more confidently and authentically in the workplace. Maybe you have an aptitude for keeping projects on track and meeting deadlines. Or, you might be great at bringing teams together and fostering a positive working environment. Whatever you're good at, embrace it.

  • Write down your strengths and think of specific examples where you’ve successfully used them in the past.
  • Ask colleagues or mentors to point out what they see as your strengths. Sometimes, others can see your abilities more clearly than you can.
  • Create specific, actionable goals that allow you to use your strengths regularly. For example, if you’re good at organisation, aim to streamline a process or system within your team.


2. Develop a Growth Mindset

Another key to developing confidence is having a growth mindset. And, in order to achieve that, one must step out of their comfort zone. This means constant learning and pushing oneself beyond one's limits to see the real change happening. 

  • Let's say you're hesitant about public speaking. Start by volunteering to present small updates in team meetings. Gradually take on more significant speaking roles, such as leading a workshop or giving a presentation to a larger audience. 
  •  Take on tasks or projects that you find challenging. While you may stumble occasionally, you'll also find opportunities to succeed and grow. Each success, no matter how small, will help build your confidence. Each step will help build your confidence and improve your public speaking skills.


Related story: The Power of Self Compassion At Work


3. Reflect on Everyday Activity

Few people take the time to celebrate their accomplishments, especially those who struggle with confidence. Make sure to create a practice of compiling and internalising your small wins. This simple yet impactful technique can help combat imposter syndrome, eliminate confidence killers, and improve self-worth. Highlight and acknowledge your strengths and successes to build your self-worth that will help you recognise your value in the workplace. Don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments with a mentor, coach, or supportive colleague. Sometimes, verbalising your successes can make them feel more real and impactful.


4. Avoid Negative Self-talk

Negative self-talk is something everyone experiences, so it’s helpful to have techniques ready to combat it. One effective strategy is to wear a rubber band or hair tie around your wrist and lightly snap it whenever you catch yourself thinking negatively. This gentle physical reminder can help interrupt the cycle of negative thoughts and encourage you to replace them with more positive ones. Besides, pay attention to your thoughts throughout the day. Whenever you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, acknowledge it.


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5. Dress Smartly

By paying attention to both your wardrobe and body language, you can significantly boost your confidence at work.  Wearing a comfortable, well-put-together outfit can actually boost your confidence. Choose clothes that fit well and make you feel good. When you’re comfortable and like how you look, it shows in your attitude and performance. Keep your back straight, shoulders back, and head held high. This posture can make you look and feel more confident. Maintaining eye contact during conversations shows that you are engaged and self-assured. Avoid crossing your arms or hunching over. Use open and welcoming gestures to appear more approachable and confident. Small changes in how you dress and carry yourself can make a big difference in how you feel and how others perceive you.

Building self-confidence in the workplace is a multi-faceted journey that involves embracing your strengths, adopting a growth mindset, and implementing practical strategies to combat negative self-talk. By celebrating your accomplishments, dressing in a way that makes you feel confident, and practising positive body language, you can significantly enhance your professional self-worth. Remember, confidence is not built overnight but through consistent effort and a commitment to personal growth.


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