A study by the University of Melbourne showed that there’s a correlation between advancement at work and self-confidence levels, even self-confidence levels dating back as early as primary school. And confident workers tend to be happy workers that are motivated to achieve higher performance.
When you feel self-confident, you don’t feel the need to bring anyone down; just the opposite in fact. Therefore, you’re more likely to be working in a mutually supportive, inspiring environment.
Maximum self-confidence matters.
And yet the levels of self-confidence in the workplace are shockingly low–and we’re often our own worst enemy here. Here are seven ways we tend to sabotage our already fragile self-confidence without even realizing it.
1. You fail to shut down the nuclear reactor.
Self-confidence plummets when we “go nuclear” with our fears and doubts and overreact to the actions of others. Self-confidence problems are often triggered by our perception of what others’ conduct says about us.
But there’s a good chance their actions don’t say anything about you, they’re just actions. Be mindful in these instances and stop assuming the worst. Even if it’s patently obvious their behaviors were intended to strike a blow to you, remember that no one defines you but yourself. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
2. You fail to mind the inner-monologue.
Our internal dialogue can either help or hurt us–don’t let yours spiral downward into self-negativity. Recognize when this is happening and call it to a halt. In that moment, consider your self-talk as if you were an outsider. Change the tone like you would for a friend that needs support (or that you want to borrow money from).
3. You’re under-prepared.
Preparation breeds poise. As authors Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval wrote in Grit to Great, “When confidence becomes a muscle memory, panic is replaced by peak performance.”
Go so far as to engage in mental rehearsal. Sports psychologists have made an entire industry out of helping athletes to visualize their success.
And knowing you gave it everything you’ve got is mission critical. When you don’t it means a crisis of conviction, which is on the path to a crisis of confidence.
4.You forget that there are always drops, it’s how you pick up.
Human nature dictates the occasional crisis of confidence–for everyone. Yes, even The Rock. Probably. So know it when you’re in it. Know that we’ve all been there. Know that the lows are necessary to experience higher highs. Then pull yourself out by pushing yourself up–into a more positive-minded direction. Draw on your memories of resilience to recover quickly and with authority.
5. You constantly seek approval instead of authenticity.
When we seek approval we’re seeking external validation, which is an empty victory at best, and elusive and confidence eroding at worst.
Fall in love with your internal qualities, not external accomplishments. Internal validation is what counts and is as certain as your commitment to remain true to yourself, your values, and your beliefs. Self-confidence comes from self-congruency.
6. You “validate parking” (getting too comfortable with the status quo)
Playing it safe all the time (parking) and not venturing out to try new things can give you the most temporary and false kind of confidence–one born out of simply avoiding failure. Become uncomfortable with long periods when you’re not taking on new challenges. Successful new experiences breed self-confidence (even more than wearing your new Uggs). Draw on unswerving faith in your ability to figure things out along the way.
7. You engage in beat-down behaviors.
Self-deprecation is one thing, self-defamation is another. Don’t lower others expectations of you by doing it for them. Talking your self down (or excessively up) both smack of insecurity.
Avoid making sweeping, negative generalizations about yourself from one isolated incident. Accept your imperfections and focus on potential, not limitations. Don’t feel compelled to mask your mistakes, view them as hard-earned progress towards an even better you. And resist the natural temptation to compare yourself to others–compare only to who you were yesterday.
You also must be cognizant to avoid beating down others in an attempt to preserve your own self-confidence. Start by taking responsibility for your actions. The question isn’t “who’s to blame” but “what’s to be done?”
The bottom line is that you’d never want to make someone else that’s extraordinary feel ordinary–why should it be any different for you?
So stop undermining yourself.