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We’ve all heard the phrase “fake it, ‘til you make it” – but developing professional confidence isn’t as simple as putting on a brave face. Whether it’s asking for a pay rise or finding your voice in meetings, a lack of confidence is listed as one of the biggest factors holding people back in their careers.
However, research released last month from Crunch has found that a new source of inspiration is helping people to overcome workplace nerves. The study of UK employees found that the rise of strong and powerful female role models – particularly the growing number of political leadership figures such as Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon – is inspiring greater confidence at work. A third of women reported feeling more confident to speak their minds, while one in 10 felt more confident when haggling or negotiating a deal.
Being more confident is an incredibly broad brief to meet and it’s not surprising that a lot of people don’t know where to start. The best strategy for tackling confidence issues is just like approaching any other challenge – break it down into measurable, achievable goals and give yourself a deadline.
Worried about finding your voice in meetings? Why not set yourself a target to raise three points at your next staff meeting. When you achieve it, build on that number the following month. One of the best ways to stay on top of your development goals is if you have someone supporting you. These goals could be something you raise as a target with your line manager in development meetings, or even just a goal you set with your friends or partner.
Professional confidence isn’t always about being the loudest person at a networking event or dominating brainstorming sessions in the office. On the contrary, confident employees typically tend to listen more than they speak, because they see interactions as an opportunity to soak up new ideas.
Confidence isn’t a one-size-fits-all attribute, because everyone struggles with different confidence issues, whether it’s conquering public speaking or dealing with difficult personalities. Finding your own brand of confidence often comes down to identifying your personal roadblocks, and developing methods or tools for overcoming them.
One of the biggest traps that people lacking in confidence fall into is dwelling on the negatives. Tracking your success is a great way to restore balance in the way you think about yourself. Having a record of these workplace wins is also a great asset when you’re approaching an appraisal, or considering asking for a pay rise.
When you’ve identified the areas you’re strong at, why not look for ways to develop them even further. Can this become your specialism? Having a topic or skillset you own as your area of expertise is a great way to boost confidence and self-belief.
Ever get that feeling you’re a bit of a fraud at work and it’s just a matter of time until people twig? It’s what’s described as imposter syndrome and it’s common among high-achieving people who are convinced, despite the evidence, that they don’t deserve their success. That fear of being found out means that people are less likely to put themselves forward for new experiences and challenges. The best way to overcome this is to tackle it head on. Saying yes to new challenges might take you out of your comfort zone, but it’s the only way to keep growing and developing professionally.
A powerful role model can make a huge impact. There’s so much to be learned from strong, inspiring leaders – from their methods for handling conflict to their body language and oration skills – in a huge range of sectors and professions. If you’re keen to discover more it’s well worth checking out the speaker lineup at events like TedX and SheSays.
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