This is the key to having confidence in the workplace

It’s important to address the nuances of confidence because it’s difficult to enact. Self-assurance is a good thing, but what are the most effective ways?

Photo: Hermes Rivera

Psychologist, Janina Steinmetz often talks about the correct ways to exude confidence. In order to avoid alienating ourselves by reveling in the details of our achievements, Steinmetz believes retellings of our victories should always be countered with the trials that led us to them.

This approach has been shown to have positive effects on potential employers and first dates.


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It’s important to address the nuances of confidence because it’s such a difficult quality to enact and maintain. We all know that advertising self-assurance is by and large a good thing, but what are the most effective ways to do so?

A study revisited

A study performed back in 1982 and published in the Journal of Experimental Social psychology asked participants to evaluate the competence of sixty imaginary individuals preparing for a tennis match or a class final examination. Respondents were given just two pieces of information before deliberation: how well the imaginary individuals thought they would perform on their respective tasks, and how well they actually performed. The results showed that the optimistic predictions of the imaginary competitors had a much bigger influence on their perceived competence than their actual performances did. So even if projections of confidence were unsubstantiated, observers were likely to buy into them.

A recent study attempted to reestablish the findings from over 30 years ago with a recreation of its circumstances. The results indeed confirmed that self-promotion plays a major role in perceived aptitude but only when it’s non-comparative. So as long as your claims of ability don’t survive on the belittling on another’s abilities.  you are more likely to be possibly received.

Unfortunately,  some of us are simply incapable of fairly presenting and or perceiving our capabilities. Because assuredness is so important to professional progress, we often attempt to put on a mask to survive the daily bustle of the workforce. Thankfully Anka Wittenberg, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at SAP, assures us that expressing confidence doesn’t require a complete personality overhaul. She suggests we consider little steps to nudge us toward true confidence. Things like writing down all our attributes, visualizing our goals, and reinforcing our competencies through actions.

Work hard to back up your claims of mastery and steer clear of being too uncharitable when evaluating others.


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.