October 26, 2023

A Confidence Crisis is Growing in the Workplace

By Pauline Leung, Bravely Coach

In a recent Indeed report, it was found that while nearly all workers (98%) say they perform better when they feel confident, only 49% of workers are confident they can reach their career goals. Relatedly, research from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicated that women are less likely to promote themselves than men.

Having confidence in the workplace is an essential cornerstone of professional growth and success. It involves concentrating on our strength, managing our inner voice, and actively seeking support feedback. Like any skill, confidence can and needs to be developed through conscious practice and a deliberate commitment to improvement.

4 Steps to Help You Build Confidence at Work

1. Focus on Your Strengths

Recognizing and leveraging your strengths is a profoundly transformative way to build self-confidence. As Marcus Buckingham, author of Stand Out, puts it, strengths are those activities that strengthen us, those that engage and energize us. By taking a discerning look at your strengths and actively placing yourself in situations where you can maximize their potential, you not only increase your chances of success but also fortify your belief in your own capabilities. It’s not just about recognizing your strengths; it’s about utilizing them to fuel your confidence.

Begin by creating a comprehensive list of your strengths. These can be qualities, skills, or talents that you excel in and that bring you genuine satisfaction. Then, challenge yourself to make these strengths part of your daily life, both personally and professionally. Consider these three “3 Es” as your guiding principles:

  1. Experience — Think about how you can use your strengths in fresh and innovative ways in your day-to-day work. Exploring uncharted territories within your strengths can unearth hidden talents and untapped potential.
  2. Exposure — Expand your horizons by seeking out opportunities to further develop your strengths. Engage with mentors, peers, or projects that can provide new perspectives and avenues for growth.
  3. Education — Continuous learning is the key to enhancing your strengths. Delve into books, articles, podcasts, or courses related to your strengths, gaining fresh insights and expertise to enrich your proficiency.

Empower yourself through this holistic approach to focusing on your strengths, for it is the pathway to not only discovering your full potential but also nurturing the unwavering self-assurance that success demands.

2. Manage the Voice in Your Head

As you work to build unshakable confidence, recognizing and managing your inner voice is critical, according to Ethan Kross in his book “Chatter: The Voice in Our Head.” The way you talk to yourself wields profound influence over your self-esteem and outlook, so acknowledging how you talk to yourself and transforming it into something more positive and supportive makes a big difference.

Here are some strategies to help you manage your inner voice:

  • Use distance self-talk — Address yourself by your name or as a second person to create psychological distance. This technique can help you gain a more objective perspective on your thoughts and emotions.
  • Imagine advising a friend — Consider what you would say to someone else in your situation and apply that advice to yourself. This helps you gain a more compassionate and supportive perspective.
  • Focus on the future — When facing a challenging situation, shift your attention to the future and think about how you can improve or learn from the experience. This forward-thinking approach can help you maintain a growth mindset and build confidence.
  • Practice self-distancing — Instead of getting caught up in your thoughts and emotions, observe them as an outside observer. This can help you gain a more balanced and rational perspective (e.g., What would your best friend say to you?).

3. Seek Support

Building confidence in your career is not a journey you have to take alone. In fact, it’s often the external guidance and encouragement that can make all the difference. Seek support from mentors, colleagues, or a professional coach who can provide valuable feedback and guidance.

Here are a few ideas to help you actively seek out the support you need to elevate your confidence:

  • Connect with mentors and colleagues — Identify mentors and colleagues who can offer valuable insights, guidance, and unwavering support. Their wisdom and experience can be a beacon in your professional journey, illuminating the way forward and helping you close the confidence gap.
  • Embrace feedback — Instead of fearing feedback, embrace it as a powerful opportunity for growth and self-improvement. Constructive criticism can be a stepping stone toward enhancing your skills and bolstering your confidence.
  • Partner with a Bravely coach — Consider enlisting the expertise of a Bravely coach, an individual well-versed in strategies for nurturing confidence and achieving your career aspirations. Working with a coach can provide you with tailored techniques and a structured approach to fortify your self-belief.

4. Build Small Habits

As Leo Babauta wisely stated, “Make it so easy you can’t say no.” In our journey to build confidence, it’s the small, consistent actions that prove to be our steadfast allies. James Clear, the brilliant mind behind “Atomic Habits,” underscores the significance of starting with small habits and progressively build them over time. The secret to success lies in the incremental and patient approach.

Suppose your goal is to share your views in a team meeting. You can get started by jotting down your thoughts beforehand. In the meeting, consider taking notes and writing down any questions you’d like to ask. After the meeting, consider discussing your thoughts with trusted colleagues. As you gain more confidence, you can begin asking a single question during the next meeting. With practice and persistence, you will eventually be able to share your views openly and comfortably during meetings.

Here’s the real game-changer: Remember to keep track of and celebrate your small wins. Use a journal, a spreadsheet, or an app to record your small wins regularly and review them periodically. This practice will help you acknowledge your progress and reinforces your belief in your abilities.


Building confidence is a journey. It is not a static attribute but a dynamic skill to be cultivated and honed. The steps we’ve explored — focusing on strengths, managing your inner dialogue, seeking support, and building small habits — are your roadmap to building unshakeable confidence. Remember, confidence isn’t static; it’s a dynamic skill that can be nurtured and developed. By taking these steps, and with time and practice, you can achieve the goals you set for yourself.

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