Whether you’ve got a presentation coming up, have an important meeting or have to take the lead on a new project, exuding an air of confidence in the workplace when we feel anything but, can be a hard skill master.
So what tricks can we employ to ensure we defeat our deskside demons and put our best foot forward when we step into the office? We asked Jacqueline Hurst , Clinical Hypnotherapist, Master Life Coach and Get The Gloss Expert for her top tips for boosting self-esteem and confidence from 9 to 5. From ways to increase assertiveness to methods to makeover your self-image, let this act as your new mindset mantra for making sure lack of confidence doesn’t hold you back any longer...
1. A positive mental attitude
Negativity is the arch nemesis of confidence. The first step to being more assertive lies in giving your thoughts a positive makeover - you’ll be surprised at how it filters down into your actions. “To exude confidence we have to think confidence,” advises Jacqueline. “Choosing thoughts such as ‘I’ve got this’ or ‘I am employed here because I am good’ feels good, it creates confidence. Check your thoughts.”
Think of it as a chain reaction. “The thoughts we have generate feelings, feelings generate actions and actions generate results, so it’s very important to get your thoughts right,” she explains.
2. Detach your alter ego
Confidence stems from strength in one’s actions and words, so if you feel that you need to adopt an alter ego at work and another for outside of it, think again. Being yourself and being genuine in the way you choose to express yourself will speak volumes. “Adopting different personalities is not necessary when we have the right thoughts in our minds,” says Jacqueline. “I think it’s important to be you wherever you are and in whatever situation you are in. It’s important to have your own back, to believe in yourself. It’s important to choose to like yourself and in turn, be yourself. No one else is better at being you than you.
3. Don’t compare and despair
At first glance, the grass always appears to be greener on the other side - whether it’s your friend who’s just got that promotion, the sibling who’s just got engaged or the starlet on the front cover of the latest glossy who’s been airbrushed within an inch of their lives. Everyone’s dealing with their own issues, so before you reach for the Häagen-Dazs and settle in for an evening for a good ol’ self-wallowing session, remind yourself of that very fact.
“I believe that comparison is a thief of joy and when we compare our inside to someone else’s outside we are doomed to feel miserable!” cautions Jacqueline. “Compare and despair goes the saying and it’s absolutely right. The thing is though, comparing yourself is also a choice - you can choose to start liking yourself and being loving towards yourself or you can spend your time worrying and comparing. It’s totally your choice.”
4. Presentation tip offs
Got a big presentation coming up? Although preparation will certainly go some way in making sure you feel somewhat equipped, all the studying in the world can’t ensure everything goes to plan. Try re-calibrating your outlook to put things into perspective and ensure you go into it with the most helpful mindset possible. “If you go into a presentation thinking negatively, your outcome will be negative,” says Jacqueline. “Get conscious of what you are thinking. If you think ‘I am never going to do this well’ then guess what – you won’t…if you choose to think ‘I’m going to give this my best shot’ then guess what – you will feel calmer and then that is exactly what you will do.”
“Think about things that create feelings of empowerment and confidence. The only one that matters here is you. If you have your own back, if you choose to believe in yourself, then the rest follows.”
5. Words of wisdom for confident conflict resolution
Got a tricky colleague, problematic boss or another issue that you need to resolve? Considering the amount of time that we spend at work, a negative environment can really end up taking its toll. As a first step, approach any of these problems with the same amount of empathy that you would outside of the workplace to humanise those responsible and help you approach the situation in the most pragmatic way possible.
“For any conflict I would say ‘Throw away your manual!’” advises Jacqueline. “Having a manual for others means we think that others should think, behave, act or react exactly how we would do and that in itself is painful. People are allowed to behave exactly how they want to and who are we to say they shouldn’t.”
“What we need to do is get our thoughts right and grow into emotional adulthood by not blaming anyone else for how we feel. How we feel is on us. So, if we are choosing thoughts along the lines of ‘She shouldn’t have done that,’ we are creating feelings of negativity for ourselves. If we are choosing thoughts that feel better, such as ‘Maybe she is having a hard time with this project and maybe she is struggling herself with something’ it will automatically feel better. We will want to be kinder and then our outcome becomes a lot more positive.”
6. Working well as a team
Having trouble making your opinions heard? There’s nothing more intimidating for a naturally quiet person than having to compete with a boardroom of varying opinions, voices and volumes. Time to silence your inner critic and go into any brainstorming meetings with an appreciation of what you have to offer - remember that the spotlight will be shared, not shed solely on you.
“Making your voice heard is all about whether you believe in yourself at not. You have something great to input just like anyone else. In fact, you are in that role because you have the skills so it’s a good idea to start thinking that way,” recommends Jacqueline.
“Being scared or worried about what others think if you speak up is the no.1 reason why a lot of people don’t. You cannot control how others think or what they choose to think, it’s a total waste of your time and energy so just go out there and be yourself. And by the way, and this is said with love: ‘You are not that special’ - in other words, no one is that bothered – they are too busy thinking about what they want to say!”
7. Managing a team well
Collaboration, assertiveness and a positive outlook for the project at hand are key attributes in ensuring that your team sees you as a positive, efficient and effective leader. “It’s important to know that you cannot control anyone else, what they say, do or react but you can control how you think about it. That in itself is pretty empowering,” advises Jacqueline.
8. Challenge society’s standards
Celebrate your individuality and chuck the rule book when it comes to adhering to society’s definition of what’s ‘pretty,’ ‘successful’ or ‘desirable.’ “I think we live in a society that bombards us with images of what we are meant to look like, subconsciously sending messages that we need to be better, prettier, thinner, happier etc.,” says Jacqueline. “It’s a con because ultimately they are telling us that in order to have that, we need to buy their products. It’s time for society especially women to get wise. Choosing to step away from our society and culture’s supposed ‘ideal standard,’ which is totally unrealistic, is a choice and we can always choose to say thanks but no thanks, I’m actually enough as I am.” Here, here to that.
9. Self-help motivation
A little extra help from the outside, whether it be from self-help books or a digital counterpart, could prove to be a valuable ally when it comes to providing a dose of confidence that works on both a conscious and subconscious level. “My sister once sent me a gorgeous little book many years ago called ‘When I Loved Myself Enough’ by Kim Mcmillen , £6.39 that’s a great little book you can pop into your handbag for those moments you need a boost,” recommends Jacqueline.
“There are lots of books out there but if you really want to get confident and quickly, I would recommend The Life Class . It’s an online virtual school that is dedicated to help people to manage their mind and feel great. You can take the course for yourself or if you want to, take it to then help others too and coach. It’s a great way to find confidence in a flash by managing your mind. Oh, and by the way, your life will change!!”