Confidence. It can ebb and flow through all of us.
Could you be sabotaging your own confidence without even realising it?
Think of a time when you were faced with a challenge at work; walking in to a room with unfamiliar faces; sharing a piece of your creativity; or deciding to participate in a group discussion with your peers – how did you approach those situations? With confidence or limiting beliefs?
Despite the best of intentions, there are several things you may be doing subconsciously, that instantly kills your confidence in the workplace and puts your career on the back foot.
Here are four subtle ways you could be killing your career confidence:
- Hiding: The most common confidence-killer. It’s akin to retracting in to your shell. I was an expert at hiding and would often stand behind my a colleague if they were talking to someone I didn’t know, not introduce myself, wish I could sink in to the background of a meeting and not make eye contact with anyone out of fear I would be called upon. Hiding is a very loud non-verbal message to others that you don’t have confidence in that situation, which can be a career-limiting move if your boss sees it too, no matter how good you are at your job.
- Saying Sorry: One act of killing confidence I mastered early in my career was starting all my sentences with Sorry. “Sorry to disturb you, I was hoping…” or “Sorry to ask, but…”or “Sorry to bother you. Do you have a minute?” While you may think you’re being professional and courteous, the use of Sorry instead of Excuse Me or even Hello automatically places you in a position of being less-than your colleague. You’re showing them they have the power in the conversation instead of approaching it as an equal. Even if you’re talking to your boss, they don’t expect you to apologise. Unless you’ve done something wrong, ask yourself what is another way you can open the conversation without signalling defeat?
- Think But Don’t Speak: One of my favourite examples of a classic case of Think But Don’t Speak is when you catch yourself thinking, “I was going to say that.” Quite often when our confidence is lacking, we decide not to participate in a conversation or meeting because we have convinced ourselves we don’t have anything to contribute, or worse, what we do want to say is ‘silly’. Only thing is someone else, with a little more gumption, speaks up and says what was on your mind. What a surprise, you did know the answer and you could’ve participated, but decided against it. The more we actively silence ourselves, the more we limit our power and reduce our professional confidence.
- Pamper Your Prose: When you fail to get to the point in an email or any written communication, it can come across as insecure and small. Using multiple words to fill your sentence as if you’re dancing around the topic is a signal you are communicating without confidence. The killer words to look out for are, just (one I am desperately trying to eradicate from my prose), because, but, if, and the over use of and. Read your email again before sending it. Ask yourself if you can rephrase your message in a way that carries more power. You can still be polite and professional when you are direct, as well as show confidence in yourself, in the message and in your work.
If you have a tendency to pamper your prose, hide or start a conversation with Sorry, than it is more than likely you are seeking approval in other verbal and non-verbal ways without realising it, killing your confidence and showing others that you are not self-assured.
Now don’t mistake me, I am not advocating you become the centre of attention, or pretending you’re someone you’re not, but these simple acts may be barriers that keep you small and stuck in your career.
While there is so much that can be written on this topic and how to build confidence, the one small action I practiced everyday to help bust through these blocks was with this one sentence;
“I am an intelligent person with great knowledge and permission to contribute.”
Remember: change your thoughts, change your life.
Now please share with me, have you turned your confidence-killers around and reclaimed your power at work? If yes, how?
Have any of these actions sparked recognition in something you might be doing at work you didn’t realise?
Let me know in the comments below.