How to Regain Your Confidence at Work

Torn paper with the words I cant

Displaying confidence at work is critical. Lacking self-assurance can hurt your career prospects and impact how your manager, creative colleagues and clients perceive you. Here’s how to bounce back from some common confidence killers.

According to Robert Half’s new Confidence Matters survey, 89 percent of U.S. professionals polled were confident enough in their job performance to believe they deserved a salary increase. However, only 54 percent of those people said they actually planned to ask for a raise. This disparity seems to indicate that many employees aren’t as confident as they think.

Have some recent mistakes or setbacks sunk your self-assurance? Lost that can-do outlook? Here are some common confidence killers and tips on how you can rebound from them:

Confidence killer: Getting an unwelcome surprise during a performance review

How to bounce back: Receiving an average (or poor) performance review can no doubt dampen your confidence at work. But no one’s perfect; getting less-than-great feedback is going to happen from time to time. Do your best to look at the review as an opportunity to improve your performance. Focus on identifying specific action steps you can take and talk to your manager about the best tools for your professional development. When you take matters into your own hands, you’ll feel more in control, which can boost your confidence level.

Confidence killer: Assuming you can’t handle a challenging project

How to bounce back: Cut the naysaying. If you go into a creative project thinking, “I can’t do this,” you’ve sabotaged yourself before you’ve even started. Take a step back and give yourself a pep talk rooted in fact. Think of times when you’ve successfully managed monster projects or risen to the occasion. It may sound silly, but a little positive self-talk can give your spirits a significant lift. As noted speaker and author Brené Brown says, “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”

Confidence killer: Being turned down for a raise

How to bounce back: Remember that salary increases are based on a wide array of factors — many of which are beyond your control. Maybe the budget’s just not there at the moment. If that is what you’re told, consider asking your manager if he or she would be willing to offer other perks or benefits, such as extra vacation days or telecommuting options. If those points can’t be negotiated at this time, ask to revisit the matter in a few months.

And if you feel you were denied a raise because you didn’t make a compelling argument, consider it a lesson learned. The next time around, go in prepared with a list of your accomplishments and how they impacted the bottom line. You also might mention the average starting salary for your position in your geographic area. Citing concrete figures (as well as displaying a confident but not cocky attitude) will improve your chances of a successful salary negotiation.

Confidence killer: Dwelling on your mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. From monumental blunders to minor mishaps, to err is human. If you commit a cringe-inducing error, take corrective action quickly. You need to be accountable and possibly apologize. What you don’t need to do is marinate in the embarrassment. While you want to learn from the mistake, you’re not helping yourself (or anyone else) if you obsessively analyze the goof or begin second-guessing your overall competence. Once you’ve reflected on the situation, figured out where things went wrong and adjusted your work processes or behavior to avoid similar issues in the future, it’s time to let it go.

To thrive as a creative professional today, you need strong technical abilities and people skills, but also resiliency and confidence. Remember: For others to believe in you, you have to first believe in yourself.

What tips do you have for maintaining confidence at work?

Related post: No, No, No: How to Deal with Rejection