Confidence is just as much a learned skill as it is something you’re lucky to have in your personal toolbox. And often, it starts with faking it. Pretending you have confidence and acting the part can do wonders for your workplace interactions (and—your confidence!) Here’s how to get started.
Don’t take it personal.
Your job isn’t to worry about what others are thinking about you, though it does help to lead with a solid sense of empathy. But it’s a good idea to leave your ego at home. Most likely, what you may feel self-conscious about (cold feedback in a meeting? Unanswered emails? Decisions you weren’t a part of?) may have nothing to do with you.
As health coach Catherine Chen puts it: “Before jumping to conclusions, ask questions to clarify where others’ actions, inactions, or inquiries are coming from. If you really put an effort into this, you will find that it has nothing to do with you.”
Speak up until you’re heard.
That’s right – speak up and have an opinion. It doesn’t matter what your opinion is, or if people widely agree with you. What’s most important is that you simply have one. It says a lot about you: that you think for yourself, that you’re smart and…confident? After all, speaking up takes courage.
In fact, this Inc article points out the benefits of carving your own path and forming your own opinions. “Speaking your opinion openly makes you appear more confident, and that effect actually increases depending on the degree of controversy associated with that opinion. For example, if you strongly disagree with everyone else in the room, you’ll appear more confident than if you go the safe route and openly agree.”
Remember, you were hired for a reason.
There are some days you won’t be an all-star performer. Hell, there will be days when you majorly screw things up. You’re not perfect; you’re human! But remember, your company and your boss hired you for a reason, and it wasn’t because they believe you’re an idiot. They hired you because they believed you were the best person for the job. Remember that when that negative voice pops up in your head saying awful things like, “I can’t.”
Dare to dream.
What is it about women that we struggle to take that leap and imagine massive success? You know, the outlandish, crazy success we all dream of?
A speaker at Girls in Tech’s Catalyst Conference in 2016, Fran Maier, one of the core founders of Match.com, gave a solid example of this behavior: Women entrepreneurs, she said, may dream of building their companies to $1 million. Or $5 million. Maybe $10 million. Yet men, she said, have no qualms about telling investors—while looking them in the eye—that their companies will be $50 million. $100 million. Somehow men are confident about making wild assumptions and telling everyone about it in the process.
Avoid drenching your dreams in self-doubt. Lori Hoberman, chair of the Emerging Companies / Venture Capital practice, Chadbourne & Parke noted in Forbes that, “Women approach pitching in a thoughtful way, which is a good thing. But sometimes they over-think the pitch. Even worse, they can be hesitant and apologetic about asking for money.”
Support other women.
Other women can become your greatest allies, and also your strongest supporters, lifting you up. Being catty at work, putting down other women and not being inclusive will only come back to bite you. Not only is this the right thing to do, but taking the higher road masks any insecurities and anxiety you may be feeling, giving you a chance to show the world just how confidence you truly can be.