Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Why is confidence in the workplace important and how do I improve mine?

Ask the majority of people for their advice on how to do well at work, and they’ll more than likely answer with something along the lines of “be more confident”.

Confidence is a fine line though. Be perceived as too confident by too many and you’ll be earmarked as arrogant. On the other hand, being too modest and not saying enough might result in you giving off the perception that you’re lacking in confidence.

 

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What is confidence and why is it important?

Essentially, confidence is knowing what you’re good at, the value you provide, and acting in a way that conveys that to those around you.

Its importance is justified in recent research, which shows that when people are put in situations where they are expected to not do well, their performance plunges. Quite literally, they get into a negative headspace and behave in an undesirable manner. However, when they’re expected to do well, they’re generally in a positive headspace and their performance improves considerably. Same person, different expectations.


Why do I need it in the workplace?

  • You’ll be more assertive: If your words and actions have conviction you’ll be taken more seriously, which will help you advance your job and career.
  • You’ll do more: You’ll be more likely to engage in challenging, but manageable projects. This will push the boundaries of your comfort zone, which will encourage you to aim for and achieve new goals. These are both valued of characteristics of successful workers. Most importantly, employers will learn to trust you with a project and know that you are likely going to be good at motivating others as well.
  • You’ll communicate more effectively: Confidence allows you to speak concisely and with clarity. Professionals who communicate with confidence can convey what they want to their clients and co-workers in a clear and efficient manner. Effective communication is critically important for career advancement.

Among the top traits employers look for when hiring or promoting a candidate are interpersonal skills, professionalism and enthusiasm; all by-products of confidence.

Ultimately, employers benefit from confident employees because they are more positive contributors, more productive, good motivators and make great role models. Additionally, confident employees in customer-focused or sales positions directly contribute to brand perception.


Great, what can I do to improve my confidence in the workplace?

  • Change your viewpoint: People who lack confidence tend to be concerned about the impact others have on them. Instead, they should focus on the impact they have on others. This empowerment improves your effectiveness because you’ll realise it’s what you do that matters, not what others do to you.
  • Acknowledge your achievements: When you do something well or achieve something, don’t sweep it under the carpet. Acknowledge it and give yourself praise, even if it is just a minor achievement. Make sure your boss knows about any good work you’ve done. Be mindful to be realistic about your achievements to ensure you aren’t pushing your own barrow.
  • Act confident: Ever heard of the saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’? Now, picture yourself. How do you look? What message do you communicate the moment you walk into a room? What is your posture saying? What information can prospective clients or co-workers gather about you before you even say a word? Yes, as you can tell, acting confident is incredibly important. Be aware of how you hold yourself and the signals that your body language is sending out. Think about your posture. Stand up straight, and when you move around a room, move with purpose.

With the job market more competitive than ever and fierce competition for promotions, the best way to stand out is to show your confidence in the work place. Stand tall, be proud and enjoy what you do; after all, that’s the most important thing.

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