Building Your Career Self-Confidence

Building Your Career Self-Confidence

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Whether you are new or a seasoned expert, you’ve likely experienced confidence-shaking moments in your career. Perhaps you put your foot in your mouth in front of the boss or maybe you’re unsure of how to initiate conversation while networking. Extroverts and introverts alike can benefit from these tips to have more confidence in professional situations.

Know Your Stuff

Some people are great at thinking on their feet and creating coherent statements from whatever thoughts flow through their minds. Most of us, however, hate being put on the spot. Our pulses race as we stutter our way through a response that may, or may not, actually answer the question asked of us.

Preparedness, on the other hand, helps us feel confident. Organize your presentation, practice what you’re going to say in a tough meeting or anticipate objections to your proposal and think of ways to overcome them. Research the competition or alternatives that a coworker or potential client may quote. If you know the facts and have answers ready in your mind, you’re far more likely to keep your nerves in check.

Take Action Against Your Fears

You’ll never overcome a fear unless you give yourself the opportunity to experience a positive result from a scary situation. As much as you want to avoid something that makes you nervous, doing so only perpetuates a potentially career-crippling fear.

For instance, if you hate public speaking, volunteer to take on a small role in that realm. Offer to introduce the main speaker at a company seminar, perhaps. Such intros are expected to be short, and the audience’s focus will be on the upcoming talk … not on you. You can experience the applause in response to your words without the stress of having to deliver an intricate speech.

No One is Perfect

In professional situations, it’s easy to feel intimidated by others who we consider to be more experienced, more educated or just plain better at their jobs. Remember: even those who seem the most polished have weaknesses that make them uncomfortable. Just like you, they aren’t perfect.

It may feel petty at first, but take some time to carefully observe the people around whom you feel inferior. Eventually, you will notice that they occasionally forget a name, arrive late for a meeting or make a mistake. These situations will help instill the belief that you are just as worthwhile as the individuals you’ve idolized. At the same time, study the things these people do to be successful. Adopt some of the mannerisms that make them seem professional, such as making steady eye contact and actively listening to others.


Find a Few Moments of Solitude

When you find yourself in a situation that requires a confidence boost, slip off to a quiet space for a few moments to gather your wits. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself of previous successes. Affirm that you CAN rise to the challenge you now face because you’ve achieved similar feats in the past. Concentrate on thoughts that convert your nervous energy into a sense of optimistic possibility.


Find a Mentor

If your company doesn’t offer a structured mentorship program, consider finding a mentor on your own. If you develop a close relationship with a coworker, ask her specific questions about how she handles difficult professional situations. Not only will you come to realize that everyone has work-related fears, but you will also learn valuable tools for solving some of your frustrations.

Developing confidence in social situations takes time, and you can learn a lot by watching the performances (and pitfalls) of others. While you are in the process of gaining a true sense of your professional worth, try this trick. Smile with poise, look people in the eye and find opportunities to share even a small bit of your knowledge during a meeting or conversation. Learn to wear a mask of confidence, and people will believe that you are confident. With practice, you may be surprised at how quickly that self-assuredness will become genuine.

Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Fischer Homes Granite Spring Model Home
Model: Chevonne Chenault