Confidence is not something we're born with.
Think about it. As infants, we all had to depend on a caregiver for nurturing and growth. As we mature, we learn how to feed ourselves, put on our own clothes, and communicate with those around us. We go through school and maybe get a college degree. Then we show up in the workplace without an ounce of experience.
Somehow, in the business world, our confidence either depletes gradually as we make mistakes or grows as we accomplish tasks and excel. Often, the difference in our confidence level comes down to how we react to criticism, our ability to gain knowledge and experience, and the decisions we make throughout the day. It's possible to grow in confidence at work, but you have to be ready to apply these daily habits.
1. Trumpet your own successes
It's OK to let people know when you get a win, at least in small doses. That's not normally true with friends or spouses in daily life, because it sounds like bragging. Yet, you can build your own confidence by pointing out, in a matter-of-fact way, that you were the one who accomplished something for the company. It makes you more confident because you get into the habit of self-rewards and self-acknowledgement.
2. Tell people you will finish the task
Confidence often starts when you state your intentions. Let people know you will finish an assigned task at work--and then go ahead and finish the task. By voicing your goals to everyone, you gain confidence because you are holding yourself accountable. Speaking it out loud helps you build credibility with others in the office and gain more respect. Note that a confidence killer can also happen if you don't finish the work.
3. Turn personal attacks into a change agent
It happens to everyone. Personal attacks are meant to push you down and make you lose confidence. Don't let that happen. If you get attacked personally, dismiss any anger or resentment behind it and look for how you can change and grow. It works. If someone attacks you and says you need to speak up at meetings, accept the feedback. Speak more. The process of growing when you hear negative comments is what can build confidence.
4. Speak your mind
I'm not recommending you avoid having a filter for what you say at meetings and just chime in with whatever comes to your mind. Yet, a lack of confidence is often a bottleneck that keeps you from saying what you really think. Uncork that confidence blocker. By stating your view in a meeting, you are building confidence because at least you can see the reactions to your viewpoint and adjust as needed.
5. Train yourself
Personal training helps build confidence because it goes right to the source of the problem. You might feel ill-equipped at work and hesitant because you don't have the proper training. Fortunately, that's easy to correct. Find online courses in your field or go to a seminar and start growing in your capabilities to counteract any feelings of inadequacy.
6. Increase your knowledge
It might seem obvious, but you can also build confidence by learning more. Read more books, watch more TED talks, attend more seminars. It's easy to go overboard, and spouting your knowledge too often can be a confidence killer when people who have greater knowledge on the subject start debating with you, but knowing what to do about a complex issue or problem can help you gain confidence. Confidence grows when you act on what you know.
7. Bounce the criticism
Here's a technique to try when you face criticism that zaps your confidence. If you hear something negative that just isn't true, before dwelling on it and letting it destroy what you believe about yourself, just reject it out of hand. Try thinking of something more positive and remind yourself about the skills you do have. The reason this works is because it's the brain cycles you waste on something negative that tends to lower confidence.
People with confidence tend to smile more, but it's a learned skill. If you walk around the office and greet others, smile first and ask about their day. The change in attitude about what is going on around the office builds your own confidence because you realize you need to have a better outlook--and that's highly contagious. Confidence is reflected.
9. Walk with pep
No, really. This works. How you move around in the office can determine your mood. Shuffling down the hall to your next meeting creates a reaction with other workers. Add a little zing and energy, and you can gain more confidence when people notice you have the pep. It's also self-perpetuating (ahem). The more bounce you have in your step, the more energy you generate physically and the more you will feel like getting to that meeting a little faster next time.
10. Find people who will boost your confidence
I'm convinced the best way to build confidence is to find people who know how to encourage you and build you up. The best example of this is my wife, who always seems to have a little compliment for how I'm dressed for the day or a project I've completed after my day is over. If you tend to hang out with people who criticize you too much, that's going to kill your confidence. It might be time to find new friends.