There is no blueprint for building your confidence at work. We can of course look to others to help build our confidence – whether that is from managers or contemporaries – but we also need to instil our own sense of confidence, and know our own self-worth.
Without this strong self-worth, we can run the risk of not going for that promotion or pay rise; not seeking new opportunities that we’re qualified for; or not speaking out at work when we see or feel something isn’t quite right.
But how do we navigate this journey towards greater confidence? While there’s no course we learn at school or induction when we first enter the working world, some of us are lucky to have strong role models in our family and friends to help guide us. There are also practical tips you can use to inspire a more confident self.
Top tips to start your journey to greater confidence at work
Bounce back from confidence knocks
Confidence is a skill that needs constant work. It’s likely that your confidence will be knocked at some point, be that from a mistake (which we all make by the way!) or by an untoward comment. When this happens, find your confidence ‘North Star’. That thing that makes you realise you are great at what you do. For me, that is physically looking back at my CV to reflect on my successes and to realise that: I’m not here by mistake, I’m here by hard work and acumen.
Find your community
Building a network in the workplace is essential. It doesn’t have to be large, in fact it could even be one or two people who you can trust and share problems or ideas with. From these small seeds, this new community can consider how to change the workplace for the better; whether that’s the little things like creating a regular coffee meet in the office or for tackling any deeper cultural issues that are impacting you day-to-day.
Boundaries at work, and communicating these, are incredibly important. These boundaries should still test your comfort zone in terms of responsibilities and ability, but they shouldn’t overreach. It’s a slippery slope to be overwhelmed and have this impact on your physical and mental health; which in turn lowers one’s confidence. Communicating these boundaries to work will also drive trust with colleagues and highlight areas where more resources are needed – helping the entire team.
Knowledge is power
Sharing sector developments, disruptive ideas and wider relevant news with work colleagues is a great way to start a conversation with colleagues, and for them to see you as a valuable asset. These don’t have to be big presentations either, they can be small moves like sharing an article in your internal workplace channel with a short paragraph as to why it’s interesting or inspired you. It is a great way to feel empowered and recognised.
Make your voice heard
It is vital that your ideas and views are heard in the workplace. Without that, colleagues won’t realise the brilliant strengths you have or views on how to do something better. Being vocal can be intimidating, particularly if you’re new to the company or in a junior position.
Speaking up in meetings can be nerve-wracking, but try bit-by-bit; taking a deep breath and challenging any public speaking fears. Preparing ideas or rehearsing what you might say before a meeting can help too. And if you don’t feel comfortable then try to make your voice heard outside of meetings first, whether that’s sharing an email or talking directly one-on-one with a colleague.
Translating that renewed sense of confidence into action
As you build up more and more confidence, don’t hesitate to flex your wings! Testing the edges of your comfort zone at work is key; whether that is asking for a little more responsibility in your role, or moving into a new position entirely to help you grow even further. It’s important that you feel valued too, as low confidence and self-esteem can hold people back in real terms.
As you progress through your career and build more confidence and trust in the sector, empowering the next generation might be something you feel passionate about. Ensuring that a truly diverse work environment is fostered, and where women feel confident to use their voices.
About the author
Rallou Chatzimichail is a Chemical Engineer, M.Eng., M.Sc., Ph.D. She is currently a Senior Fuel Cell Stack Assembly Engineer at Bramble Energy and has over seven years working in materials and clean tech sector.
Rallou is passionate about raising awareness of how we can all contribute towards minimising waste industrially, as well as domestically. Throughout her work, Rallou took opportunities to start mentoring young professionals and later became a STEM Ambassador, with the aim to demonstrate that STEM is versatile and flexible and there is always something exciting and challenging that we are called to overcome.