6 easy steps to building confidence at the workplace

6 min read
Shweta Saxena

If you think that building confidence at the workplace is inherent, it’s not your fault. We are conditioned to believe that a handful of people possess this gift naturally. However, the reality is that it can be challenging for even the most assured professional when you think about:

  • Competition at the workplace
  • Changing technology
  • Ever-evolving work dynamics

Additionally, recent studies confirm that the workforce confidence in India has declined in recent years — especially among women and young professionals.

So, how do you build confidence when feelings of intimidation arise? You battle those fears by taking steps in a direction that allows you to:

  • Take risks
  • Accept feedback
  • Improve your work
  • Stay ahead of the game

In this article, we’ll discuss the six steps to building confidence at the workplace and in personal relationships.

The science behind building confidence

Man expressing himself with open hand gestures
Photo: Headway on Unsplash

Can positive thinking really change your outlook on workplace confidence? Science shows that it can.

Many self-help books refer to the Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) as an effective resource in building confidence.

The CBT is a form of psychological treatment that helps people change their thinking patterns.

It helps people govern their thoughts on:

  • Emotions
  • Behavior
  • Actions
  • Results

Does this mean we can change outcomes in the workforce if we change our thoughts? The short answer is yes. Let’s take a look at how that’s possible in the next section.

Related: Cultivating growth mindset at work and in life

How your mindset affects workplace results

Ernest Holmes, an American writer and philosopher who wrote a book about the Science of Mind, wrote:

“Change your thinking, change your life.”

Negative thoughts lead to undesired outcomes. This, in turn, sets the stage for the next set of unfavorable events.

For example, the way you interpret an event like bad feedback could affect your outlook on everything else in the workplace. It may make you feel bad about yourself and lead to unsupportive or aggressive behavior towards your boss — often resulting in a bad reputation.

A bad reputation could adversely impact your promotion and lower your confidence even more, which generates a vicious circle.

The good news is that we can break this vicious cycle by changing how we interpret things.

A positive outlook on feedback could result in improved areas of opportunity for yourself and leave a good impression on your boss. It can even help boost your confidence and open gates to new opportunities.

Related: Work life balance: tips for bosses and workers

Six steps to building confidence at the workplace

Before discussing steps that’ll change your thought process and boost confidence, it’s imperative to understand that things will not happen overnight.

Changing your mindset is a gradual process.

It’s a shift that will require perseverance and commitment, but you can achieve this through conscious efforts.

1. Identifying negative thoughts

Awareness is the first step to building confidence. It is essential to recognize and classify your thoughts as negative and positive.

A simple introspection may give you a pattern of thoughts you’re most likely to have. Maybe you call yourself a failure or question your abilities from time to time. Take note of these thoughts and work to identify them. 

2. Find positives in negatives

Our actions are the result of our thoughts and feelings. Once you have identified the negative thought, it's imperative to flip it into a positive one.

In situations where you receive negative feedback, try spinning a positive outlook. Remind yourself of the areas where you succeeded in the rest of your work. This will allow you recognize the positive aspect of the same story.

Your negative thoughts only defend you and your ego.

They prevent you from seeing the feedback as a way to improve yourself.

Instead, find a silver lining and use that to build your confidence. It’s not too difficult once you try. Every event has some element of positivity and your task is to simply find it.

3. Replace negative thoughts

The most important words you hear are the words you tell yourself.

While you’re building confidence, it’s important to notice how you think about yourself. Replace your negative discouraging thoughts with positive and uplifting ones.

Instead of telling yourself I’m a failure, try replacing with more affirming words like:

I may fail sometimes, but in the end I will win.

You can also replace phrases like I can’t do it with something like:

It might be difficult, but I’ll do it with a little more effort.

Reframing your inner dialogue is a good practice for building confidence in the long run.

4. Practice new thoughts

Speaking of practice, it’s important to build your confidence muscles through daily repetition.

Try writing positive thoughts on paper every day to help you imbibe new beliefs.

You may even take a print and hang it in your room.

The more you see it, the deeper it goes into your subconscious.

Remember, focusing on good things (no matter how small they may seem) can help you get through challenging situations.

5. Upskill

Knowledge, skill, and preparation are critical to staying confident in the workplace.

A 2020 PWC Australia study reports that upskilling reaps benefits far beyond skills — leading to confidence and productivity gains.

The more informed we are in our careers, the more assertive and assured we appear to employers. It leaves a lot less room for any doubts about our capabilities.

Related: 12 AWS developer certifications to consider

6. Monitor yourself

Lastly, the most important part of this process is monitoring your behavior, feelings, and actions over time.

Negative emotions can creep in very quietly without being noticed.

Keeping a written record can help you track the events or instances that triggered those negative emotions. Many people prefer writing a diary at the end of the day, but you can do it occasionally or whenever you feel low.

Final takeaways

Building confidence is particularly essential for those who feel unseen at the workplace. Understanding the science behind confidence and taking actionable steps to get there will be key in your workplace development.

There isn’t one correct way of building confidence, but a small change in the way of thinking can change your life for the better.

No matter which method or technique you use, the starting point remains the same. The point is to incorporate confidence-building habits into your lifestyle and practice them in both your professional and personal life.