How I Became More Confident At Work
Updated: Sep 29, 2020
When I started my first real office job, I felt like I wasn’t as qualified as everyone else. Maybe it was the fact that I was so much younger and inexperienced than the other workers. I was only 22-years-old and this was my first salaried position. Or maybe it was because I didn’t come from a background of privilege. Before landing the job, I had only been working at a Starbucks part-time. I could barely afford my meager monthly rent and I had thousands in student loan debt. I was worried about whether I could afford to get to and from the office for the first few weeks. I also wasn’t sure if I had enough work-appropriate clothes. These insecurities weighed heavily on my mind.
I felt inferior.
Because of my insecurities, I struggled to build relationships with my bosses and my coworkers, I delivered my presentations with a nervous stutter, and I always thought my work was never good enough. I realized that I couldn’t go on like this, being so unconfident and unsure of myself. So, I decided to make some changes to become more confident at work.
To tackle my insecurities with public speaking, I decided that I would prepare what I would say and practice it before every meeting and presentation. If I knew what I was going to say beforehand, I could save myself from the embarrassment of drawing mental “blanks.” I could predict questions that might come up and have answers ready. I also found that when I was prepared, I felt calmer because I knew what my main points were and how I was going to deliver them. If you’re one of those people who are just naturally great at conveying your thoughts and ideas in front of an audience, consider yourself lucky.
If you’re like me and need a little extra help with presenting, preparation is key.
Staying Positive and Believing in Myself
Thinking positively is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. We’re so naturally inclined to say bad things about ourselves and compare ourselves to others. My thoughts usually went something like, “I’m so bad at this job,” “I hope they don’t fire me,” or “I’ll never be as good as this person at this task.” I realized that the negative thoughts needed to stop. By thinking and saying these things, I started to believe them. Instead, I decided that I should congratulate and compliment myself. I started saying things like, “I’m getting better at this job every day,” “I am so grateful to have this job," and “I’ll work hard to become as good as this person at this task.” I had to believe that I could do it and I found that I actually could!
Another way that I tried to be positive was to focus on the good aspects of my job. Maybe I liked what was available in the cafeteria that day or I finally finished a project that I had been struggling to complete. By focusing on the positives, I found that I enjoyed my work life that much more and was more inclined to happiness and overall confidence.
Getting Outside of My Comfort Zone
I realized that I wouldn’t become more confident by only doing the things that I was comfortable with. I wouldn’t see any upward movement in my career either by just coasting through work. I decided to reach out to my boss and ask her if there were any more complicated tasks that I could complete. When I was given these "harder" tasks, I found that they weren’t as difficult as I thought and it gave me something to do besides the usual routine. Another way that I tried getting out of my comfort zone was by volunteering to present first during meetings instead of dreading when my turn came around. I also brainstormed ways that I could make work more efficient for myself and those around me and presented the idea to my boss.
Not only did she acknowledge my effort and implement the change, but I felt good at having contributed to my office in a meaningful way.
Of course, while I'm at work, I'm meant to be, well, working. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy myself. Decorating my workspace drastically changed my mood. I tacked up pictures of my family and friends and summer vacations. Whenever I felt discouraged or gave in to my negativity, I found that the pictures of those happy moments would really lighten my mood. The decorated space also helped me to feel more like I belonged here. I also like to have fun at work by checking in with my coworkers throughout the day. It's fun sharing funny memes or stories with them whenever I get the chance. Having meaningful relationships with your coworkers can honestly determine how your work life will be. Having fun at work makes you feel more at ease in the space and in turn, more confident!
I still have a long way to go before I’m completely confident in myself at work. I’m hoping that more self-assuredness will come naturally with age. But for now, these are just a few ways that I’m working on being more confident at work.