Increase your self-confidence in the workplace

Have you lost confidence in your ability to do your job?

Perhaps your employer’s expectations are too high or maybe you are your own worst critic.

Maybe your work environment changed and you have a new team, new boss or a new role.

Or you may have been asked to “step-up” or take on more responsibility with fewer resources.

These, and other factors, can impact our self-confidence and often leave us feeling unprepared, unqualified or unable to do our jobs. Unfortunately, most of us feel like this at some point in our career.

While we can’t control every aspect of our work environment, we can work to increase our self-confidence for a more positive work experience. Incorporating the following five steps will help you face workplace challenges feeling prepared, qualified and capable.

Reduce negative thoughts or “self-talk”

You know that little voice that keeps saying, “Are you sure about that decision?” or “You can’t do that,” or “You’re not smart enough for this”? Surprise! We all have that voice in our heads. The important thing is what we choose to do with it. We run into trouble when we let that negative, self-depreciating voice start driving our decision making and choices. What can you do when negative thoughts emerge?

  • First, just notice. What is your little voice saying and what’s behind the message?
  • Second, make a choice about the self-talk you will allow to continue and explore your options.
  • Third, replace the negative thoughts with more positive ones. When the negative thoughts come back, notice for a bit, make a choice and then move forward with self-talk that best serves you.

No situation has meaning until you add your interpretation of the situation with your thoughts. By adding more positive thoughts, your interpretation of the situation becomes more optimistic and eventually, you will become more confident.

Enhance self-awareness

Know yourself and what you are capable of accomplishing. An easy and fun tool for discovering strengths is Tom Rath’s book Strengthsfinder 2.0. It includes a survey that identifies your top five strengths as well as strategies for growing those strengths. It can also be helpful to take a few minutes and think about what self-confidence means to you.

  • Finish these three sentences: “To me, self-confidence means…”, “I feel confident when…”, and “I celebrate my self-confidence by…”.
  • Then create and write down your intention about confidence. For example, an intention about confidence might be: “I have all the skills and tools I need to thrive in whatever circumstances are thrown at me.” Use your intention statement as a filter for making choices about how you respond to stresses, problems, and difficult people in the workplace. Use it also to filter your choices about opportunity, abundance and inspiring colleagues! Self-confidence puts you in the driver’s seat to make decisions about how you will respond to situations or circumstances.

Remember that everyone’s self-confidence is tested and put under pressure at some point. It is possible to feel anxiety, stress, and fear AND make a choice about your thoughts and behavior that supports your intention about confidence.

Protect your energy 

Let go of fixing every problem and helping every person. What happens if you view your associates, clients/customers, employees as capable and resourceful people who can fix their own problems? You are able to direct your energy toward the areas in which you will have the greatest impact.

Set realistic goals and celebrate wins

Set measurable goals to monitor your progress. Write them down. Be specific, be realistic, identify a date for completion and include the benefit to you of completing the goal.

When you meet your goals (or meet milestones on the way), celebrate! Acknowledging progress and success is a great confidence booster. Keep a journal of your successes and look back at it when your confidence takes a hit. Remind yourself of all you are capable of and look back at your intentions and your goals to move forward.


Breathing is a great tool to relax the body and to push the pause button.

Webster’s dictionary defines confidence as: 1) FAITH, TRUST; 2) a feeling or consciousness of one’s power or of reliance on one’s circumstances; 3) the quality or state of being certain. Often the most observable difference between someone with high confidence and someone with low confidence is how they respond to a situation.

Often all you need to get out of reaction mode and into choice mode is to pause: take a breath, check in with your intentions and make a choice about your next step confidently. You will find when you behave from a place of choice rather than a quick reaction, your self-confidence is higher.


I encourage you to see how positive thinking, increasing self-awareness, protecting your energy, achieving goals, celebrating wins and remembering to breathe can transform negatives into career opportunities. I am confident that incorporating these five steps will increase your self-confidence in current situations and throughout your career.

Linda O’Neill is the vice president of strategic services at Vigilant, a company dedicated to helping companies in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and California solve their most complex employment issues. Linda is a certified executive coach and organizational development expert who works with Vigilant members companies to create high functioning organizations, at the individual, team and systemic levels. Linda is graduate of the University of Oregon, BS in journalism and public relations.