6 confidence-building activities at work (with benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 September 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.

Confidence is a valuable attribute in many workplaces and can be essential for advancement to leadership positions. Developing confidence can take some time, although it's usually worth the effort. If you want to improve your confidence at work, knowing some practical activities and practices can help you to do so. In this article, we explain what confidence means at work, list six confidence-building activities to consider and discuss the advantages of improving your confidence.

What does confidence mean at work?

Confidence can be a subjective attribute for many people and often correlates to how comfortable or experienced they are in a particular position. For instance, you may find that you're much more confident among friends you've known for a long time but less so when starting a new job. This is because familiarity and knowledge are vital contributors to confidence. Confidence can also elicit responses and reactions from those around you, which can affect your confidence in some ways.

In the workplace context, confidence can mean knowing the value of your contributions to the organisation, being able to interact competently with other employees and a belief in your own competence. Confidence can also contribute to your ability to be assertive, decisive and persuasive.

Related: What is self-confidence and why is it important to have?

6 confidence-building activities

Confidence-building activities are some habits and practices you can adopt to increase your confidence levels. These can be useful whether you've just started a new job or if you've been with an organisation for some time. Here's a list of six activities to consider for boosting your confidence:

1. Develop your skills

A very productive way of increasing your confidence is to improve your skills. Try to identify skills which could improve your performance at work and seek opportunities to acquire them. These could include industry-specific knowledge, new hard skills and transferrable soft skills. Training courses, books, online tutorials and simple practice can all help you develop new competencies. When you start to demonstrate these at work and positively impact your performance, you and your colleagues are going to notice the difference, and this can boost your confidence.

A key part of this is finding gaps which you've previously ignored. It's normal to occasionally discover that you lack a particular ability or knowledge and plan to acquire it later but forget due to distractions. Some people may even attempt to disguise any such deficiencies, which can negatively impact confidence. Be honest with yourself about these and actively seek opportunities to overcome them.

Related: How to mindfully improve your personal development

2. Help others

Helping your colleagues at work can greatly increase your confidence and boost your reputation in the workplace. This is possible both passively and actively. Doing so passively means waiting until someone asks you for assistance. Doing so actively means offering assistance to your colleagues when the opportunity arises. Actively offering to help others is usually better, as it allows you to communicate your abilities rather than waiting for someone else to assume what you're able to do. Helping others can be particularly impactful when it involves newer employees who may still be getting used to the work.

When you interact with these people and others, you can add an offer to help at the end of an exchange to let them know you're always available. If you see someone struggling with a particular task, you can approach them and ask if they'd like some assistance. It's crucial that you only offer help when you're able to do so, as trying to figure out how to help after an offer can make matters worse. Help could even mean offering advice or guidance, and doing so regularly can make others more likely to contact you for this purpose.

Related: Benefits of being a supportive colleague (with examples)

3. Smile often

A key contributor to your confidence sees positive reactions from those around you. If their responses to interactions with you are favourable, then this can boost your self-esteem and confidence. A simple way of getting positive reactions is to smile often when interacting with your colleagues. Doing so shows that you're relaxed and happy to see them and may cause them to feel more relaxed and open around you.

Even if you're briefly exchanging a greeting in passing, try to smile at them while doing so. Once this becomes habitual, you may find that people are smiling at you more often, which can be a great confidence boost.

Related: Nonverbal communication skills: definition and examples

4. Practise making eye contact

Together with smiling, eye contact is a key aspect of body language, which can boost and demonstrate confidence. It's also something that can take time to develop and turn into a habit, and there are a few things you can do to accomplish this. One way is to do it when you're alone at home whenever you look in a mirror. For instance, if you brush your teeth every morning in front of a mirror, try to make a habit of looking yourself in the eyes. This may feel awkward initially, but it's good practice for making it habitual.

The next step is to look at someone while you're interacting with them. When they're speaking, making eye contact shows that you're attentive. When you're speaking, making eye contact shows that you value their attention. In both cases, it shows confidence. Just like smiling, making regular and sustained eye contact can elicit more positive responses from those around you, which boosts confidence.

Related: What is body language? A complete professional guide

5. Give compliments

Since confidence is closely related to how you interact with those around you, actively doing positive things can help demonstrate and build confidence. One aspect of confidence is feeling secure in your own abilities and attributes, which means you don't feel threatened by those of others. An easy way of showing this is being liberal with your compliments to colleagues. When you notice something positive about someone else, mention it to them if appropriate. This could be a skill they demonstrate, a task they performed well or even something simple like wearing a nice wristwatch.

It's crucial that you only give compliments which are appropriate to both the workplace and your familiarity with the person. Certain compliments about a person's physical appearance are sometimes susceptible to misunderstanding, so avoiding these can be a prudent choice. It can also be a good idea to avoid focussing too much on a compliment, as the attention can be uncomfortable for some people. Instead, simply mention it casually before proceeding with the conversation. Giving compliments can also make others more likely to compliment you, which is typically good for confidence too.

Related: Showing respect in the workplace: a step-by-step guide

6. Improve your physical health

Engaging in activities which improve your physical health can indirectly improve your confidence. These activities can achieve this by helping you get the figure you want, boosting your mood and giving you time to focus on yourself. There are numerous options available, depending on your preferences. You could practise yoga, learn meditation, go to the gym, start cycling to work, go jogging or take martial arts classes. You can do these activities alone or with other people.

Related: What's wellbeing in the workplace? (Definition and factors)

Benefits of actively building confidence

Here are some of the key benefits of these confidence-building practices:

  • Leadership: If you're interested in progressing your career and attaining leadership positions, demonstrating confidence can be a key attribute. Actively practising confidence-boosting activities can therefore be a form of preparation for leadership.

  • Positive work environment: If you're able to develop and demonstrate confidence, you're likely to have a positive impact on your work environment. This is because you're both having more positive interactions with others and because colleagues are more likely to give you positive responses.

  • Self-awareness: Many of the activities and experiences necessary for building confidence also boost your self-awareness. This is because confidence entails understanding your value, skills and ability to help others.

  • Lower anxiety: Feeling confident is a good way of combatting any feelings of anxiety or worrying. Confidence entails certainty about your abilities and capacity for controlling your environment, which may directly combat many of the causes of anxiety.

  • Persuasiveness: If you're confident, then you're often going to be more assertive and persuasive when interacting with others. Possessing this ability has many benefits, such as allowing you to better negotiate salaries or pay rises, performance in work interviews and getting promotions.

Related:

  • How To Build Confidence at Work


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