What Is Self-Confidence? (Definition And Tips To Improve)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Self-confidence is important for success as it provides you with the belief in your skills to overcome different kinds of challenges. Developing confidence often requires ongoing reflection and practice. By taking the steps to improve self-confidence, you may also feel more comfortable facilitating meetings, networking, interviewing and performing in a leadership role. In this article, we explain what is self-confidence, why it is important and what characteristics a self-confident person has.

What is self-confidence?

The answer to the question, "What is self-confidence?" is that it is a quality that promotes and strengthens your belief in your own abilities. Self-confidence enables individuals to develop faith in their competencies and to trust their own judgments, decisions and skills. High levels of self-confidence can motivate professionals to complete challenging tasks and address complex problems. Self-confident individuals may be able to reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses and assess situations objectively to contribute solutions to problems.

Self-confidence differs from self-esteem although they are similar concepts. Self-esteem refers to an individual's ability to value themselves. Self-confidence refers to an individual's faith in their own capabilities, especially in the context of a task or challenge. For example, individuals with high self-esteem may still experience a lack of self-confidence while performing a task they are not familiar with.

Why is self-confidence important in the workplace?

There are several reasons self-confidence can benefit a professional in the workplace. When you are confident, you may be more open to taking calculated risks that may contribute to professional success. Self-confidence can also arise from having a comprehensive understanding of one's own abilities and weaknesses. This understanding is crucial for professional growth as it empowers individuals to process feedback and criticism in a healthy manner.

Self-confidence can also help you share your ideas and express yourself with freedom. It is a quality that has the potential to facilitate creativity and innovation in a professional context. In addition to these aspects, self-confident people are also a positive influence on colleagues and other individuals around them.

Characteristics of a self-confident person

A self-confident person typically depicts the following characteristics:

Believes in themselves

Confident people often take part in and contribute to group discussions. They present their thoughts and opinions confidently as they have faith in their judgement, skills and approach to professional tasks. Self-confidence also helps professionals become more decisive and assertive while making important organisational decisions.

Voices their opinions

A key characteristic of confident people is that they follow through in action, with what they believe is right. As a self-assured person, you might be open to taking feedback from peers before making your final decision. Self-confident people may also put forward their views in a composed manner. This quality gives individuals the ability to believe in their ability to make correct decisions and use their aptitude to persuade others.

Takes on new challenges

Having trust in your abilities may enable you to seek challenges to test and garner experience and knowledge. A self-confident person usually believes that they can successfully overcome difficulties they face, by applying relevant skills, knowledge or experience. Taking risks and achieving targets can further increase levels of self-confidence in individuals.

Accepts criticism positively

Success and failure are both possible in professional and personal life. A self-confident person may illustrate the capacity to accept both praise and criticism politely and constructively. They may be more inclined to listen to feedback and use it to overcome challenges.

How to be more confident in the workplace

These are 10 steps that you can follow to be more confident in the workplace:

1. Identify your weaknesses

Start by identifying and listing your weaknesses. Distinguish between the ones that are critical to your performance and the ones that are not. Go through past achievements and performance evaluations to understand how you have grown professionally over the years. This can help increase confidence. Speak to colleagues and team members to identify which aspects of your work you can improve upon. It can also be helpful to list a few of the most recent achievements to generate motivation to develop further.

2. Draft a plan to address weaknesses

Once you identify weaknesses, it is important to create a realistic plan to overcome them. You may consider taking suggestions from professionals who have addressed similar weaknesses in the past. If required, speak to an expert to learn more about how you can compensate for certain weaknesses that impede productivity. Counsellors and mentors can give you suggestions to excel professionally while considering your mental health needs, job satisfaction levels and work-life balance.

3. Prepare for meetings and group discussions

Presenting your views before a large group can sometimes be challenging, especially if you feel that you lack public speaking experience. Whether you are speaking during a group discussion or presenting during a team meeting, preparation enables you to become familiar with your key talking points. This reduces chances of faltering mid-speech and digressing into irrelevant topics and also prepares you for answering follow-up questions after the meeting or discussion.

Related: How To Succeed In A Group Discussion

4. Try new things

While it may be easy to remain within a comfort zone, challenging yourself by taking on new projects in the workplace or even outside it can help you gain new skills and improve self-confidence. For example, you can lead a new initiative, sign up for an online course or develop a new hobby outside of work. New endeavours also expand your knowledge base and aid networking by helping you connect with a wide range of professionals.

5. Participate in performance evaluations

Most companies have performance evaluation systems to assess the performance and productivity of their employees at regular intervals. During performance evaluation sessions, you can ask managers relevant questions to better understand your strengths and weaknesses from a third person's perspective. A self-assured person typically takes steps to improve themselves after receiving feedback. This also indicates to an employer that you give due importance to performance evaluation processes and constructive feedback.

Related: Performance Improvement Plan: Benefits, Process And Examples

6. Enhance your unique abilities

Review portfolios of professionals working in similar domains to understand how good you are in terms of expertise, experience and skills. Identify areas or domains where your performance has a competitive edge over that of your peers. Systematically focus on developing and expanding these unique competencies to improve your employability.

7. Set realistic expectations and goals

Achieving goals and meeting expectations can help build confidence. Once you set your goals, create a process that details how you can achieve them. Do not forget to measure your progress throughout the process. Set SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. The SMART goal framework provides a structure using which you can set and achieve goals systematically.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition And Examples

8. Believe in yourself

Negative thoughts and criticism can lead to self-doubt. Engage in self-reflection periodically to process critical feedback and negative emotions. Try to understand how an inspirational figure like a family member, acquaintance, supervisor or mentor might respond to similar circumstances. You can also read motivational books or listen to speeches of inspirational individuals to grow as a professional.

9. Build a professional network

Fostering good relations with colleagues can also help build confidence. You can offer to help a teammate with their project or have a recreational engagement with a colleague outside of work. This helps to build a strong network of professionals who can help you when you require assistance with professional tasks.

For example, you can ask a colleague or friend for help by rehearsing a presentation or report with them. If you are not comfortable practising with someone, you may videotape your presentation or stand before a mirror to analyse it yourself. If you have written material to present, you can seek the help of a colleague to gauge its readability and the quality of your articulation.

10. Care for your physical and mental health

Maintaining your physical and mental health, both within and outside of the workplace is key to being self-confident. It is difficult to feel self-assured unless you feel fit and energetic on a routine basis. Consider following a healthy diet and exercise routine to maintain health and fitness. You may also adopt precautionary measures to alleviate stress related to excessive screen usage.

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