Confidence is a quality most of us would like to possess. But pinning down the exact je ne sais quoi that makes up confidence is surprisingly tricky.
Often, we picture a confident person as the sort of outgoing, larger-than-life personality who, surrounded by sycophants and admirers, succeeds at everything she turns her hands to. But in reality, most confident people are far less showy than this stereotype.
Indeed, those of us who would like to be more confident in the workplace should forget about courting the limelight or being more vocal. Instead, confidence is about refusing to be compromised by human insecurities.
Be Okay with Being Wrong
Yes, confidence means being brave enough to push your ideas forward. But, much more importantly, it means being brave enough to give up on them if they turn out to be ineffective in practice.
When something we advocated doesn’t work out, we often react with embarrassment or even obstinacy, but this only exaggerates the problem. And the higher we rise in the corporate ranks, the greater a problem a failure to admit we can be wrong becomes. Colleagues who are subordinate to us can become discouraged from pointing out shortcomings or suggesting alternatives. Not only can this be disastrous for the misguided work project, it is exceedingly damaging to team morale.
Own Up to Your Mistakes
No matter how good you are at your job, you will inevitably make the odd stupid mistake: clicking on a virus-laden email, say, or spilling coffee all over the office printer. Fear of judgement and/or reprimands can tempt up to try to cover up the error and deny responsibility, but such actions are cowardly.
Confidence means being willing to step up and accept accountability for your mistake, to sincerely apologize and to take steps to fix it. And once you’ve done so, confidence also means being able to move on and forgive yourself for messing up.
Acknowledge Your Weaknesses
Confident people aren’t perfect, and they know it. The difference is they are open about their weaknesses in order to manage expectations, delegate tasks appropriately, and solicit feedback on how to improve in those areas.
Defer to Peers and Subordinates
Promotions can send the best of us on a power trip, but a confident worker understands that someone below them in the corporate hierarchy can still know more than them, perform a task better than them, or have stronger insights and ideas.
Confident people use this to everyone’s advantage, by encouraging the strongest workers at any given task to take the lead, and listening to the advice and concerns of everyone. They never consider high-achieving reports as a dent to their own ego, but rather as a sign they’re doing their job as a manager.
Confident people aren’t shy about accepting praise, but they also don’t feel the need to hog the spotlight. They publicly recognize the contributions of others to their successes, and they are quick to dole out praise themselves wherever they feel it is merited.
Ask for Help
Nobody is world-class at everything. Confident people feel no shame in benefiting from the expertise of others by asking for their help with any task they may be struggling with. And they continue asking for such help regardless of how long they’ve held their job or how high their job rank is.
Being good at your job isn’t just about adequately completing your current workload, but about constantly seeking out new learning opportunities. Confident people understand that the different skill sets and perspective of their colleagues will help them with this learning process.
Shut Up and Listen
Confident people do sometimes have chatty or loud personalities, but they always have the ability to sit quietly and listen to other people.
Confidence means being unafraid of ceding the floor to other voices. This is because confident people never worry about their peers trying to outshine them. They focus on doing the best job they can, and they appreciate the input and advice of other people as part of the pathway to that.
Confident people are not pushovers – they are willing to make difficult decisions, engage in debates, and discipline people as appropriate. But throughout all these interacts, they remain professional, polite, and respectful of the other people they are interacting will.
It is insecurity that makes people bully, bitch about or judge their co-workers. Confident people keep their opinions to themselves, and refrain from discussing colleagues negatively in any public forum. They are secure enough in themselves to be unbothered by the actions and decisions of other people.