Everyone has days where they’d rather be under the duvet watching Netflix than in the office. Whether you’ve been in your job for a while, or you’re starting a new job, work can be daunting!
Want to know how to be more confident at work? It is actually possible to develop your confidence in the workplace, using a handful of tactics you might not have thought of. So here are five surprising ways to have more self-esteem in your job or apprenticeship, backed up by cold hard science.
1. Ask questions
This is one of the keys to building confidence at work. You might think asking questions will make your colleagues or boss think you don’t know what you’re doing – but it’s actually the opposite.
Being curious (not just about your own role, but your company and industry) demonstrates your commitment to the job. There’s no bigger boost to your confidence than having all the information you need – knowledge is power! What’s more, research has found that people who are inquisitive are thought to be more intelligent and engaged.
2. Get out of your comfort zone
While it may sound counter-intuitive, trying new things and taking risks can actually grow your self-esteem at work. Research from Yale University even shows that the uncertainty involved getting out of your comfort zone tells the brain to kickstart learning.
Take the initiative at work by asking if you can lead your next team meeting or develop a new skill like learning to code, manage a new project. Your boss will take notice! You can step outside your comfort zone in your personal life too – try an open mic night, or get a new hobby – and this will help you feel more confident when you’re back at work. You can even do this in small ways, like shaking up your daily routine, or striking up a conversation with someone you disagree with.
3. Fake it ‘till you make it
You might have heard of faking it ‘till you make it, the idea that you basically act like the most confident person in the room, and eventually you will know your job inside out. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting that you tell fibs about your abilities or pretend to be someone you’re not. The key to how to be more confident at work is that you look and act the part. Some practical ways you can do that are to dress professionally, communicate your points clearly and assertively, and smile often.
And if you’re still sceptical about whether this tactic is effective at growing confidence in the workplace, there’s actually some science behind the whole ‘fake it ‘till you make it thing’. According to what researchers term the ‘status-enhancement theory’, acting dominant and confident makes others believe you are competent. This in turn makes you trust yourself more.
4. Strike a pose
Believe it or not, just standing like Superman or Wonder Woman like make you feel like a superhero. In a now famous TED talk, the social psychologist Amy Cuddy explained how adopting powerful poses – like standing with your hands on your hip and your chest lifted – can actually affect your body chemistry. She carried out a study which concluded that people who held these ‘power poses’ experienced a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, and an increase in testosterone, which is the hormone related to dominance and confidence. “Our bodies change our minds,” said Cuddy.
But if you’re not in the mood to stand like Superman, make sure you have good body language and posture at work. Because as well as affecting how we feel about ourselves, body language affects how others see us, too.
5. Listen to some tunes
Do you listen to your favourite tracks to get in the zone? Playing music you love at work, or when you’re preparing for an interview or presentation, can make you feel happy, relaxed and even focussed. But research has also shown it could have a positive effect on your confidence too.
An investigation by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University discovered that listening to “high-power” playlists made people feel more empowered. Researchers classified high-power songs as those with heavier bass.
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