Career Advice
May 25, 2022

The Secret Guide To Building Confidence At Work

The Secret Guide To Building Confidence At Work

The Secret Guide To Building Confidence At Work

Credit: Freepik

Confidence is an emotion that needs support from time to time. Confidence can be built over time and unfortunately, it could break easily too. It is one of the many characteristics that hiring managers look for when finding a suitable candidate. If you are not confident with your ability, how could a hiring manager be confident to hire you?.

In this blog, our mentor- Gloria Wang, a career and confidence coach and a Service Designer based in Australia will share the tips and tricks on how to build your confidence at work.

Building Confidence at Work

The workplace could be a daunting at times. Your boss might give you a feedback that make you question about your talent. Your colleagues might complain about you are not being cooperative enough, toxic environment and so on. All these scare the confidence away. 😮💨

The definition of confidence

According to Gloria, confidence is being certain enough to say something or act on something. It is in a scenario in which your certainty outweighs your fear. This is depending on the skill or domain. It is a muscle that we can exercise continually.

What Confident is not:

  • Something you are inherently born with.
  • A trait that spans the whole person. (This is context- dependent).
  • Something that can be given to us. The power lies within ourselves to build it through consistent practice.

Causes that breaks self-confidence at work

Credit: Freepik

  • Taking criticism too personally
  • Not enough encouragement from your boss or colleague 
  • Poor self-belief
  • Lack of self-love
  • Lack of support from the team

And many more…

How to build confidence at work: The process to get back that confidence

  • Phase 1: Fear
    The realization that we are afraid of something. For example, we are afraid to stutter while giving a presentation, fear that our design suggestion gets rejection, fear of embarrassment, etc.

  • Phase 2: Courage
    It is through fear that we find courage. We know that we need to do something to break free from fear. Thus, an action has to be made. You need the courage to build your confidence at work. It does not have to be a big step, start small and develop from there. Set a goal and commit.

    For example, if you are afraid that you will stutter in your presentation, practice a few times before the actual presentation. Record your body language, the way you present yourself.

    If you are worried about your design proposal, take initiative to seek feedback from design mentors or your colleague at work. Reflect on their feedback and make improvements from there.

  • Phase 3: Competence
    Practice always makes perfect or close enough. This is the phase where you gain your confidence. You receive good feedback on your presentation or only minor amendments needed in your design proposal. You feel relieved and good about yourself.

    The feedback or validation that you receive makes you feel confident again.

Confidence is built with enough competence and knowledge. Along the way, you need self-compassion and radical acceptance. According to Skyland Trail, radical acceptance is:

“When you stop fighting reality, stop responding with impulsive or destructive behaviors when things aren’t going the way you want them to, and let go of bitterness that may be keeping you trapped in a cycle of suffering.”

Tips from Gloria on how to build confidence at work
Reframing Thoughts

  • The Pine Tree Metaphor
    When you look at a small pine tree, you do not criticize or demand the pine tree to grow that instant. Pine trees need time to grow and so are you! Give yourself time to develop in your career one step at a time.

  • Find calm underneath the fear
    It is possible to find calm when you are in the midst of a chaotic situation. Take a break, seek support, or plan a me-time for you to calm down and think things over.

  • On perfectionism and not-good-enoughness
    Gloria shares her favorite quote from Ira Glass:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
  • Remember that failure does not exist, only feedback.
  • Do not fight. Focus on the care and joy.

Spiritual practices or healing

  • Heart Meditation
  • Breath Meditation
  • Hypnotherapy

Practical Daily Habits

  • The Pearl Habit exercise

    For example:

    After/When: I feel anxious about a new client
    I will: Tell myself to, “Show up and Serve”

Other recommended resources

  1. The Tiny Habit book
  1. Stanford Behavior Design Lab

Read this article on Building Career Pathways that Gives You Confidence

Explore more topics on the ADPList website such as dealing with imposter syndrome, improving design skills, being the only designer, and more career advice tips.

Gloria WangADPList Mentor) 
Career & Confidence Coach, Service Designer
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Editor and Writer:
Farah Radzi
Content Marketer and Writer at ADPList
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