So many people get in touch with Birmingham Counselling Services because they have low self-esteem, and a high proportion of them wish they had more confidence in their skills and abilities at work. They are looking for increased self-assurance when it comes to doing their work, dealing with colleagues, and handling awkward situations. If this sounds familiar to you, you are not alone. Read on for some tips to boost your self-confidence.
First, remember that you are not defined by your job. If you make a mistake at work, (and we all make mistakes – none of us is perfect), this does not mean that you are stupid, worthless, or that you’re in the wrong position. It’s all too easy to take a mistake personally, seeing it as a reflection of your true worth rather than for what it is: a simple error. The best way to deal with a mistake is to acknowledge it straight away and if you can, offer possible solutions. This will show that you have both integrity and understanding of the issue. By suggesting ways to fix the problem, you enable your boss to send you off to deal with it. Acting honestly and straightforwardly is best for you – you’ll feel better about yourself – and best for the company, which will also help you feel better.
Another common area of insecurity at work is feeling uncomfortable when it comes to dealing with colleagues. Many people feel that they do not fit in with the group, they don’t know how to handle conflict, or they have an overbearing fellow worker or boss with whom they just don’t know how to communicate. Any of these feelings can undermine your self-esteem. You might feel you have nothing to offer the group, whether in work projects or socially, perhaps you find yourself doing everything you can to avoid conflict, and you might be allowing others to step on you. We can look at each of these issues separately:
If socialising with colleagues is a problem, you need to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone a little way. This doesn’t mean jumping right in at a large company gathering, like the Christmas party; rather, pace yourself and start small by trying conversations with one or two colleagues. The chances are you’ll find have something in common. Asking questions about the other person is always a good way to start – get people talking about themselves, their families, their pets, their interests. If you can, avoid questions with simple yes or no answers – these can be real conversation stoppers.
When dealing with conflicts at work and difficult workers, learning some proven communication techniques is a good idea. You could consider attending a course on conflict resolution and dealing with difficult staff. In the meantime, remember that the overbearing person might be trying to conceal his/her own insecurities, and these are causing the unacceptable behaviour. In the midst of conflict, do your best to avoid being pulled into an argument on the aggressor’s level. Don’t reward that colleague’s behaviour by getting obviously upset or immediately backing down. If necessary say you’ll continue the conversation when people have had a chance to cool down. Dealing with negative fellow workers is never fun. Try to remember that your self-worth is not dependent on the approval of an awkward colleague even if that colleague is your boss.
Perhaps you are feeling uncertain about your professional skills. One easy way to address this is to learn more! Many companies expect their staff to update their training on a regular basis (CPD – continuing professional development); some offer regular continuing education options, some will pay for training outside the organisation if you can identify a suitable programme, or set up professional development courses in house. Whatever your employer offers, take advantage of it if you can. What if your company does not have any of these options? If you are a member of any professional association, don’t be afraid to ask them for advice and recommendations. And you can also ask your colleagues – some of your peers might well have good suggestions on what’s worth looking into. Finally, don’t forget online trainings and books written by experts in the field.
Finally, don’t be afraid to give yourself some challenges. One very good way to build your self-confidence at work is to take on a special project or extra work. If you can, choose something you feel passionate about or something in your specialised area; you will be able to show yourself and your colleagues that you can produce results. Even if you don’t have total success, you will have shown initiative and willingness to work by taking on something extra. Knowing that you found the courage to put yourself forward, rather than simply sitting quietly at your desk doing your routine work, can be a great confidence booster. And if you make a spectacular success of this piece of work you can feel very proud of yourself in so many ways. Don’t be afraid to take the credit.
If anything in this article has hit a nerve for you, or if you would like to look at the issues in a safe place, why not consider asking for help? Why not get in touch with Birmingham Counselling Services, either via our website: www.BirminghamCounsellingServices.co.uk or by calling 0121 314 9903.