Executive Coaching | Leadership Consultant

Many individuals wish they felt more secure about their abilities on the job. In other words, they  are looking for increased self-confidence when it comes to performing the work, dealing with colleagues, and managing difficult situations. If you are one of these individuals, you are not alone. So, what can you do to feel more self-assured about your job?

First, remember that you are not your job. That is, if you make a mistake at work, this does not mean that you are stupid, worthless, or that you are in the wrong position. It is all too easy to take mistakes personally, seeing the mistake as a reflection of your true person rather than for what it is: a mistake. Even though it may not always appear so, everyone makes mistakes. The best way to deal with a mistake is to own up to it right away and present a solution. This shows that you are honest, responsible, and by presenting ways to fix the problem, your boss can send you on your way to deal with the issue. Acting honestly and straightforwardly is best for you (you will feel better about yourself) and best for the company (which again will help you feel better).

Another common issue is feeling insecure around coworkers. Many individuals feel that they do not fit in, are unsure how to handle conflict, or have an overbearing coworker or boss with which they do not know how to communicate. Any of these feelings can wear on your self-esteem. You may feel you have nothing to offer the group, whether socially or professionally, you avoid conflict, and may allow others to step on you. If socialization is a problem, it will require you to step out of your comfort zone. This does not mean you need to jump right in with a large company gathering; rather, take it slow by opening conversations with one or two coworkers. Chances are you will have something in common with your co-workers. Asking questions about the other person is always a great way to break the ice, find common interests, and demonstrate interest in the other person. However, you should avoid questions with simple yes or no answers. Dale Carnegie says that the most interesting person we know is ourself. If you can get the other person to talk about themself, they will generally like you.

When dealing with conflict resolution and difficult employees, learning some proven communication techniques may be necessary. Consider attending a course on conflict resolution and dealing with difficult people. In the meantime, remember that the overbearing person likely has a lot of insecurities as well, and these are what cause the behavior. (I often remind my children that “hurting people hurt others.”) In the midst of conflict, do your best to avoid being pulled into argumentative situations. Do not reward the other person’s behavior by getting upset or immediately backing down. If necessary, say you will continue the conversation when everyone has had a chance to cool down. Dealing with negative coworkers is never fun. It is important to remember that your self worth is not dependent on the coworker’s approval, even if that person is your boss.

It could be that you are feeling unsure about your skills. This is pretty easy fix–learn more! Many companies offer continuing education options, will pay for schooling, or offer professional development in house. Whatever your employer offers, take advantage. If your company does not have this option, find some good books on the subject. Ask your colleagues for suggestions, or if you are a member of a professional group, seek advice there as well. Many of your peers will have good suggestions on what’s worth looking into.

Finally, give yourself some challenges. One great way to build your self confidence at work is to take on a special project or extra work. If you choose something you feel passionate about or something in your specialty area, you can show yourself and your colleagues that you are able to produce results. Even if you fail, you are showing initiative and willingness by taking on special projects. Knowing that you put yourself out there, rather than sitting on the sidelines, can be a great confidence booster.

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9 Responses to “Building Your Self-Confidence at the Workplace”

  • John,
    These seem to be the key issues that can occur in most workplaces. I like how you focus on what an individual can do to alleviate these problems. Working on self first can the key to balance in these situations. You’ve listed some great ways to achieve this balance. I feel self worth can be a huge factor in interactions.

    Like your suggestions,
    Val :)
    .-= Val Wilcox´s last blog ..It’s All About The Story =-.

    • Dr. John McGinn:


      Thanks for your comments.

      I agree with you that working on self is the place to begin. If we do not like, love, and respect ourselves, it is unrealistic to think (expect) others to do it.



  • Great post. I like the idea of taking on new projects. I think self-confidence is largely in our ability to look back on our successes.

  • John,

    I find it surprising how many people tie their self images to their jobs, especially men. Not only is this a total misconception, but it can be very damaging if the job is lost.

    In order to feel at ease in the workplace, we first need to feel at ease with ourselves. You have some great tips here, that can be used both in and out of the workplace.

    • Dr. John McGinn:


      You are so right about people tying their self-image to their performance. After having worked with students for many years, I see this beginning early in the lives of kids. Parents (often unknowingly) say things like “I love you but …” and they tie it to a performance issue – i.e., cleaning there rooms, grades in school, athletics, etc. People need to know that they have value because their Creator sees them as having value – not because of anything they do or do not do.



  • Great post, John. I don’t think anyone hasn’t run into these situations at work! I have to admit that your response to Val’s comment is of supreme important. “If we do not like, love, and respect ourselves, it is unrealistic to think (expect) others to do it.” Thanks for sharing your insights.
    .-= Teresa Ivory´s last blog ..Do You Work For Free? =-.

    • Dr. John McGinn:


      Thank you for your kind words. It has been my experience that if a person is not comfortable with themselves, no one else or nothing else will make them comfortable.



  • John,
    Having worked in management for many years, I have observed many of the scenarios you discussed in your article here. And, I find your advice to be solid and sound to help individuals build their confidence and gain increased credibility in their work setting. I also agree with both you and Val, in that real success in any setting (be it the workplace or life) begins with self development. Growth begins with the individual.
    .-= Krista Abbott´s last blog ..Gulf Oil Spill Deepwater Horizon: A Child’s View =-.

    • Dr. John McGinn:


      Great points.

      Was it the late great Jim Rohn that said something like: “Work on your career and you will make a living. Work on yourself and you will make a fortune!”



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