Confidence at work

Children seem to be fearless in their pursuit and oblivious to potential risks.  Yet as we grow we start being fearful of so many things, for example the fear of failing, letting people down, being compared unfavourably with our peers, making fools of ourselves if we speak up or stand out in anyway etc.

How did this happen?

Confidence is about what you say to yourself in connection with your abilities to do something.  If you tell yourself you can’t do it you won’t.  To quote Henry Ford “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Where do our thoughts come from?

Negative self-talk comes from thoughts and beliefs we hold about ourselves, which we think are true. These accumulate over time and tend to stem from childhood and hurtful things that people have said to us at some point during our lives.  You would be amazed at the number of adults who are held back by things said to or about them, which they still recall today and are not true.


The GOOD news is that these beliefs are not facts and can be changed by developing a positive relationship with yourself.  Recall a time when you felt really confident.  What was going on?  What were you doing, saying and hearing?  It’s such a great feeling, isn’t it?  If you have been confident once you can be confident again.  If a friend asked you what they could do to feel more confident, what advice would you give them?  You already hold the answers but it’s quite likely no one has asked the question until now.  This is important because:

  • Confident people take action to achieve the things they want and tackle challenges rather than ignoring them.  That’s why successful people are confident people.
  • Confident people acknowledge their emotions and physical reactions for example, sweating palms, dry mouth, wobbly voice etc., yet remain in control by staying focused on the action they are about to take.  They do this by shifting their focus from themselves to other people, for example they would say what do these people need to hear from me? And they would channel all their efforts into giving a first rate presentation.
  • Confident people smile, they are at ease with themselves and make other people feel valued and important.
  • Confident people don’t put off doing new things until they feel more confident because to feel confident you need to take action FIRST and stretch your ‘comfort zone.’  That’s why people who have been unemployed for a while can rapidly lose their self-confidence.

     Tips for building your confidence at work

  • Give yourself time and space to grow into your role. If you’re unsure about something go and find out the answer.
  • If something goes wrong and it will, put it right if you can and make a note of what you learned for next time and keep going.  This will help you to develop resilience.
  • If you’ve been asked to do something new and you think it’s going to turn out badly imagine the worst case scenario, add lots of detail if you wish and draw up a plan for dealing with the worst case scenario. Now, think of the BEST case scenario and what this would do for your career, for example it could be an opportunity to develop new skills.  Focus on a positive outcome rather than a bad one knowing you have a plan for dealing with that if it happens.

Tips for people managers

  • Give constructive feedback so your employees know what they could do to improve their performance.
  • Help your employees to identify their core strengths and get them to use these when taking on new tasks; this way they will develop new skills. Leading to a win-win situation.  Your employees will feel more confident and do a better job and this will improve productivity.
  • Act as a role model and inspire your employees to follow your lead.