Tips on how to be more confident in the workplace

Confident elegant lady in eyeglasses hosting webinar

“You just need to be more confident.”

Have you ever had this ‘feedback’ at work? Personally, this kind of inane advice makes my blood boil. If only I’d thought of that! Wait a moment, I’ll just flick my confidence switch to ‘on’…

You’ll notice these same people rarely have much to say about how to improve your confidence, so what can you do?

I like Lewis Howes’ Confidence Equation:

Congruence + Competence + Connection = Confidence

What does this mean? Essentially, that confidence isn’t a ‘thing’ in its own right; it’s made up of several elements combined. As I looked at ways to develop each one, I learned that I (and indeed my clients) already had much of what was needed. This often happens: we don’t give ourselves credit for how much we are capable of. In other words, you don’t need to be adding NEW skills, but merely leveraging what already exists.

This feels more achievable! So how should you implement it at work?

Congruence

When we are out of alignment and behaving in ways that don’t fit with our values or authentic selves, our confidence takes a hit; we show up as someone else, as though hiding behind a mask. It’s not uncommon to feel the need to do this at work in order to belong to the team, to handle the politics or to disguise parts of ourselves/lives that we perceive make us look weak in front of co-workers. The workplace can feel like the school playground as we try to fit in and not catch the eye of the bully!

When we don’t behave in line with who we are, it can be unsettling and impact us outside of work as well, hence it is important to our wellbeing to do something about it.

How to implement this at work:

  • Write a statement about who you are and how you want to show up at work.
  • Think about how you want others to feel or what you want them to say after they have had an interaction with you and articulate how you need to behave to achieve this.
  • Consider what you are/are not prepared to tolerate from and for yourself. Be sure to write down what those boundaries are and how you will respond if they are breached.
  • Keep this ‘Character Commitment’ to hand so you can reinforce it with yourself regularly, especially when others test your resolve!

One of the positive impacts of the pandemic was employers’ increased appreciation that their employees are whole people with lives outside of work. From clerk to CEO, everyone was dealing with domestic issues such as forced confinement, illness, home schooling, loneliness, mental health challenges, etc. It was a great leveller in this regard. If your employer is still behaving as though you need to leave your home life at the office entrance, my advice is to start looking for a new employer.

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Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

Competence

We build capability without noticing. Yes, there are courses, workshops and qualifications we undertake during our professional lives, but it is the skills that just ‘happen’ that we should take time to think about. As an HR professional I’m loathed to call them ‘soft’ skills because 90% are anything but soft! Our interactions with colleagues can be some of the toughest we encounter and require us to draw upon our experience in ways rarely taught on a formal course.

How to implement this at work:

  • Conduct a ‘Skills Audit’. Do this by writing down all the courses, qualifications and workshops you have completed during your career and outside of work. Make some bullet points about the key things you learnt.
  • Compile an ‘Experience Record’. Call to mind significant experiences/situations you’ve had in your life – the ones that really stand out. Make notes of the attributes those occasions required and how you drew upon them.

Reminding yourself of your competence is key to growing confidence – look at all areas of your life to see how significant events enhance your ability to deal with challenging situations.

Connection

If there was ever a time we truly appreciated the importance of others, it was during the pandemic. The denial of human contact – at home and at work – made us realise that we are, in essence, pack animals. However, there will have been people you didn’t miss, such as that bullying boss or a curmudgeonly colleague.

The connections we form dramatically influence how we feel, both positively and negatively. You might not be able to avoid your line manager or move desks at work, but it’s possible to limit the negative impact of others by changing your mindset.

How to implement this at work:

  • Write a list of the key people who influence you at work and note how they make you feel and how you behave around them. What time do you spend with them? How do they influence your thoughts and decisions?
  • Place each person on a continuum with ‘joyful’ at one end and ‘toxic’ at the other. Base your rating on how you most frequently feel after interacting with them.
  • For each person, make a conscious decision to do one of the following:
    1. Do nothing. Remember that taking no action is a choice in itself.
    2. Increase/decrease contact; whether that’s the physical time you spend with them or how much they impact your thoughts – you get to decide.
    3. Talk to them. Tell them about the impact they have on you and how you would like it to continue (if positive) or change (if negative). Communicate clearly and calmly – what they choose to do then is their responsibility, not yours.

Remember, it is within your gift to choose how someone influences you – don’t sacrifice your mental health by letting negative people rent free space in your head.

Confidence is not a gift bestowed upon you by others; it is a gift you can give to yourself. Take simple steps and remember you have all the tools already to hand.

De-Twat Your Life is out on ebook and paperback now (June 2022), available online and in all good bookshops, as well as at www.carolynhobdey.com

About the author

Carolyn Hobdey is The Midlife Mistress: every woman’s best friend at a time when she wants to take back control of her life. She believes that a woman’s pleasures should not be ‘guilty’.

She is author of ‘All The Twats I Met Along The Way’ and its recently-released sequel, ‘De-Twat Your Life!’ as well as the self-help book, ‘Redefining SELFISH. No Guilt. No Regrets’. She is one of the international co-authors of ‘The Everyday Girls Guide to Living in Truth, Self-Love, and Acceptance’, which became an Amazon Bestseller in numerous countries. Carolyn has weekly radio slots on WCRfm for ‘Menopause Monday’ and ‘Humpday with Hobdey’.

Carolyn Hobdey

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