The Gender Pay gap, the #MeToo movement – the headlines are dominated by women’s voices against inequality in the workplace. The glass ceiling may not be smashed but it’s cracking. Despite this, there’s one issue that can stop women from reaching their full potential, and that’s confidence. 73% of women claim they lack confidence at work and while studies reveal male colleagues overestimate their performance, women do the opposite.
Common worries range from not being good enough, appearing unattractive to being disliked by colleagues. Low confidence may prevent you from applying for a job, asking for a pay rise or speaking up in a meeting.
We spoke to Karen Kwong, a business and wellbeing coach. She says “Healthy confidence is key to your professional career. It’s not enough to just blag an interview; once you’re in, you have to actually do the job – and believe that you’re good enough to do it.”If you’re struggling with confidence, don’t panic it is fixable. Read on to find out how to say farewell to self-doubt and be the girl boss you were born to be.
Believe your deserve it
‘Imposter syndrome’ or the belief that you do not deserve the opportunities afforded to you, is common among women. In fact 70% of successful people are said to have suffered from this including Meryl Streep and Maya Angelou. We all have momentary insecure moments but being kind to yourself and ditching negative self-talk will make a huge difference. Remember how hard you’ve worked and this is exactly what got you to this moment in your career, whether it’s a promotion, an opportunity or an interview,
Karen says: “You are equally as well-educated and trained as your male counterparts, so don’t let this cloud your judgement and affect your confidence. You have just as much right to be there as men.”
Know your strengths
Focus on your strengths; how you have you used them previously and how can you use them again. These could be skills such as (using Excel, creative writing, public speaking etc.) or personality traits that make you stand out. Are you empathetic, organised or a natural leader? Karen tells us, the best way to do this is to think of an experience (work or personal) where you’ve used these skills to achieve set goals. Build out three of these into stories, which can be used in interviews.
“These [stories] also act as reminders if and when you lose confidence in your abilities. It will remind you that you have achieved and done well in the past.”
Accept not everything will be right for you
Losing out on a promotion, feeling like you’re in the wrong career or being rejected from a job can be demoralising. However, how many times in your life has something fallen apart for something better to come together? Whether it’s your first heartbreak that lead to your move to the city or an extra year at university that meant you met a friend for life. Maybe there is a better career move awaiting you. Forcing yourself into the wrong role will only leave you feeling anxious and destroy your confidence.
Karen explains: “Sometimes, it can be the right decision for you, because you don’t want to work in a place where you culturally don’t fit in, it just wasn’t meant to be – that doesn’t mean your skills won’t be valued elsewhere.”
Learn from rejection
It may be that a job or promotion is not wrong for you but you are just not ready. Maybe you performed fantastically but there was just someone a little better. Don’t let rejection demotivate you, your time wasn’t wasted as practice and perseverance will get you to where you want to go. Famous companions in rejection include J.K Rowling, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna – imagine if they had given up?Karen stresses you should “review the feedback and learn from your mistakes (if there were any) but always keep going.”
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘dress for the job you want’ and while looking sharp is important, it is more crucial to behave like a professional. For Karen this means thinking about how you would like to be perceived acting accordingly: “if you go in to an interview or job giggling or talking as if you don’t require respect, then people will treat you that way. However if you go in professionally, behave like a professional and treat others with thought, care and respect, this will be returned to you.”
Find a mentor
Whether this is a manager, a friend in your industry, a business coach or simply someone killing it on Instagram, find someone you can look to for guidance. Be curious and ask questions no matter how ‘silly’ as this is the only way to learn and grow.