Whether a bad day’s got you down, you don’t love speaking up, or you’re constantly playing the comparison game, chances are good that you could use an added dose of confidence at work.
In some cases, decision-makers in any job setting put more stock in confidence than competence when they’re making picks for a promotion or filling out a performance review. Don’t get overlooked or undervalued because you’re not projecting your best.
Try these ten bits of advice on how to effectively communicate, counter negativity, and generally how to gain confidence in the office and beyond.
1 Don’t let your case of imposter syndrome go untreated.
You know that nagging sense that you’re not as good as the people around you and you got to where you are through luck or timing? Hopefully you don’t. But if you do, it’s called imposter syndrome and it’s extremely detrimental. It’s especially common for women and minorities in largely male- and white-dominated industries, but no matter who you are, giving in to the feeling that you’re not good enough is a surefire way to hold yourself back.
To nip the terrible disease of imposter syndrome in the bud, catch yourself when you think those damaging thoughts, and counter each one with a compliment to yourself. When people give you praise, accept it politely, and don’t doubt whether you deserve it. Act confident, and be confident.
2 Act like you’re in a good mood, even if you aren’t.
Demonstrating a positive attitude—even if your pet just died—and showing resilience—even if you just got yelled at—are two ways to come across well among people you work with. And here’s a secret: projecting positivity and showing that nothing gets to you are great ways to become more positive and actually not let anything get to you.
3 Pretend you’re a movie and watch yourself act.
Pay attention to how you’re coming across in interactions with coworkers and especially bosses. Try to control your facial expressions, body language, the words you use, even your tone of voice. Some blend of polite, engaged, motivated, willing to help, and interested in the conversation should add up to a strong vibe of confidence.
If you mentally take a step back from time to time and observe your behavior, you can make adjustments to make sure you’re coming across just how you want to.
4 Think about what you say and how you say it.
Speak in a clear and level voice and choose your words deliberately. Company buzzwords are a good bet, but avoid irritating workplace no-nos. Body language is important, too: posture, polite head nods, and other ways of showing you’re engaged.
We think eliminating “like”s and “um”s goes without saying, but there, we just said it. Now you have no excuse.
5 Think assertive, not pushy.
When you’re trying to boost your confidence game, if you take it a step too far, you could wind up in cocky territory. Shades of difference are key here: when you get praise, respond with a humble “thank you; the team worked really hard,” not “I knew my ideas would pay off.” The difference between confidence and arrogance can be a fine line, but once you see someone doing the latter, you’ll know it’s not a good look.
6 Make lists obsessively.
A daily to-do list can help you keep track of what you accomplish on an everyday basis. A list of big projects (and even minor wins) can remind you of those successes—which, incidentally, will also come in handy if you need to update your résumé or apply for a new job.
7 Figure out what you’re good at.
If you identify your strengths, it’s harder to get bogged down thinking about your weaknesses. Having an extra dismal day? List the skills you know set you apart (or better yet, make the list on a day when everything’s going your way so you can return to it when things aren’t so bright). After all, even if the project you’re working on seems like it can’t be solved by those abilities, or if you’re in a really low state of mind, reminding yourself of your past accomplishments and top skills should both boost your mindset and get you on track.
8 Figure out what you’re bad at.
Yeah, we just said to focus on your strengths and not get bogged down thinking about your weaknesses. However, if you identify areas for improvement, you can be aware of potential issues and areas where you might need to ask for help. Work to get better in those areas so that you can turn them into strengths.
9 Keep a stash of confidence boosters.
Build on the strengths list from tip No. 7. Use it for a reminder of the big projects you’ve completed. Create a file (some call it a “kudos doc”) of emails, performance reviews, and emails or notes from others referring to things you achieved.
Or, create tactics to cheer yourself up, like a favorite song, animal picture, or music video of Christopher Walken dancing like a maniac (and occasionally flying). Hey, he’s not the best dancer, but you can’t deny he’s got confidence. Channel that.
10 Let the little things get to you.
The good little things, that is. If you let a passive aggressive email ruin your day, well, you clearly need to go back and read this from the beginning. But if someone passes you in the hall and says “nice presentation yesterday,” hold onto the good feeling you get from that all day. If you allow the little bits of positive feedback—whether from others or your own sense of a job well done—to grow into something big, then you’ll gain the confidence you deserve bit by bit.
And in the end, the more you act confident, the more you’ll be confident. So go out, paste on a smile, fix your posture, kill any negative thought that pops into your head, and constantly tell yourself that you’ve got this. Try it out: by the end of the day, you’ll realize that you really do.