Article by Rebecca Hourston, Head of Women’s Leadership and Managing Director at Talking Talent
In fact, I think that many of us are suffering from a post-pandemic confidence crisis.
There’s been a lot written about the return transition, and it’s no surprise that people are feeling wobbly. Things like being squeezed into smaller, shared office spaces; travelling on public transport; juggling commitments; and overhauling daily routines are all preying on people’s minds. Not to mention the increased costs of living. These things can chip away at your self-esteem, which can in turn have a negative impact on your mood, productivity and relationships.
So what are some quick and simple ways you can boost your confidence – both in the workplace and in your personal life?
The best way to increase your confidence is to take action. Feelings of confidence are created and reinforced by your own actions and experiences. Making small changes to what you do, see, hear and think can all improve your confidence. Fake it till you make it: Smile, stand up straight. When people see and treat you as a confident person, it will help you become a confident person.
Start to see new challenges as an opportunity to build your confidence. Ask yourself: What would you do if you were not afraid? What’s the worst that can happen?
Pick one thing that scares you every day, and do it. Write it down on a bit of paper, and put it in a jar. Read all of them when the jar is full and I guarantee you’ll feel amazing.
Keep an active look-out for role models, particularly for people who you identify with, or who have followed similar paths. Remember, too, that you can have many role-models (in fact, that’s the best idea). ‘Pick-and-mix’ the qualities and characteristics you admire and want to emulate from several different people. While you might not find the ‘perfect’ role model, you can be inspired by elements from many.
Don’t be afraid to copy what you admire. Imitation, after all, is the sincerest form of flattery
Remember: You can look up to someone without putting yourself down. It’s not a hierarchy, and there’s room for both of you to be successful.
Try an affirmation: ‘I absolutely can do this.’ Repetition of positive thoughts leads to habitual positive thinking.
Keep a confidence journal: Before you go to bed, write down three things that you’re proud of from your work and life that day. Make a conscious effort to remember your positive achievements and qualities. Instead of trying to stop negative thinking abruptly, try a counter-argument: I may not be the best at…but, I am fantastic at…
To make sure you absorb positive feedback, write it down. Keep a ‘brag file’ – a document where you copy and paste any positive feedback you get from others, jot down passing comments.
If you ask ‘So what did you think of that?’ You’re asking for general thoughts, and many people are naturally disposed to find criticism. If you ask ‘What worked for you about [my presentation, my idea]?’ You’re steering them to provide much more constructive, strengths-based feedback.
Practice accepting compliments and positive feedback gracefully. Smile, and say ‘Thank you’. Think about it: If someone congratulates you on your hard work, and you say ‘It was nothing’, it may sound a lot like ‘I didn’t try that hard’ or ‘Go away’.
Rebecca Hourston is Managing Director and Head of Women’s Leadership Programmes at Talking Talent. Rebecca is one of the UK’s leading experts on women’s development, supporting parental transitions at work, and building inclusive workplaces. As a senior, qualified Executive Coach for over 17 years, she’s made a difference to thousands of people from numerous world-leading organisations.