By Laura C. Browne
Do you wish you could be more confident at work?
It’s important to realize that you don’t need to feel confident in order to look confident.
Even if you don’t feel confident inside, you can say and do certain things that will make you appear confident to others. When people at work see you looking and acting confident, they’ll treat you as a confident person and that will help you to feel more confident. You can build confidence from the inside or from the outside.
Here are tips you can use to feel more confident:
1. Remind Yourself How Wonderful You Are. Focus on the positive things you’ve done, and put together a “Good Job” file and keep it in your desk to look at when you’re feeling unsure of yourself and your abilities. Have a picture of something you’re proud of so you can continually remind yourself of what you can do. I was able to break a board in a self defense class, and I kept the board in my desk drawer for many years to remind myself that I’m strong and I can do more than I expect I can. When I had a bad day at work, I looked at the board and knew I could get through it.
2. Know your stuff. Be thoroughly prepared with everything you do so it will be easy to feel comfortable. For example, if you’re making a presentation to a group or giving a proposal to your boss, make sure you’ve done your research and practiced in advance. And the more important the issue, the more you need to practice.
3. Use affirmations. Most of us talk to ourselves but tend to make negative comments. Do you tell yourself, “That was stupid” or “I’m so dumb!” If so, replace those negative comments with positive ones, such as “I am confident” and “People listen to what I say.” It may seem strange the first few times you do it, but positive repetition can help you feel more confident.
4. Surround yourself with supportive people. The more time you spend with people that support you, the easier it will be for you to feel confident. If you have to work with negative people, you need to develop ways to deflect their negative words. One woman I know imagines herself behind an invisible shield that protects her from negative comments. That helps when one of her co-workers says things to put her down.
What can you do to look and sound more confident, even if you don’t feel that way?
- Stand or sit up straight and look at the other person. If you slump down in your chair and look away, it can seem like you are trying to hide. In some cultures direct eye contact is not appropriate; however, in American business culture, looking away can indicate a lack of confidence.
- Use controlled hand gestures. Pay attention to your hands and make sure you’re not using nervous gestures such as playing with your hair or picking at your nails.
- Speak up and slow down. When people are unsure, they may mumble and rush their words so they can finish faster. Confident people speak at a normal rate and volume.
- Use powerful phrases. Use statements such as “I will…” or “I can…” Don’t use powerless comments such as, “This probably isn’t a good idea but…” or “We’ve probably already tried this but…” When you use phrases like that, you are telling people not to listen to you.
Think about the confident people you know. You can observe them and copy what they do. You may even want to set up a time to talk to confident people and ask what their secrets are. Most people are happy to talk about themselves. And you may find that they feel nervous and unsure sometimes also.
When you think about confidence, just remember the advice from an old commercial tagline, “Never let them see you sweat.”
Laura C. Browne has more than 20 years experience as a corporate trainer and manager and is passionate about giving women the guidance and communication skills necessary to overcome and be successful despite workplace and gender-specific challenges. For almost ten years, women from Fortune 1000 companies have turned to Laura for career guidance and training. Laura is the author of Raise Rules for Women: How To Make More Money At Work and Why Can’t You Communicate Like Me? How Smart Women Get Results At Work (both titles available on Amazon Kindle).