Feeling confident at work can be hard, but we’re working on it

Building your confidence is crucial to pursuing your goals and feeling good about yourself. We asked The Juggle community what makes them feel confident at work. Here’s what they had to say.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Even though it’s 2018, being a woman in the workplace can still suck sometimes. Try to contain your shock.

Almost 40 percent of women report experiencing sexual harassment at work, and the proportion of Fortune 500 companies led by women is at an all-time HIGH of just 6.2 percent. Women often struggle with confidence at work, and sadly, the “confidence gap” between women and men sets women back even further. Research has shown that simply acting confident can be more important than actually being good at something in the eyes of your peers.

Because of these challenges, building your confidence is crucial to pursuing your goals and feeling good about yourself. Also science says, if you’re female, you’re probably better at stuff than you think.

We asked The Juggle community what makes them feel confident at work. Here’s what they had to say.

When you know your shit

I feel confident when I can teach others something and they get it! I also feel confident when I have good ideas in meetings, or when I can manage the emotions of a room.

— Rachel, 30, finally a real MD, Philadelphia, PA

When I propose ideas that are upheld by leadership at my company. When I lead projects to successful completion. When I negotiate my pay and earn what I asked for. When I put lessons learned into practice.

— Kacie, 26, Beyonce Enthusiast, Austin, TX

When I am answering questions about my area of research and work that the general population doesn’t know. I can sit across from a board and throw out incredibly accurate and up-to-date statistics. It gives me the confidence to know that people rely on me for the dissemination of important information.

— Prisoner Advocate, Ypsilanti, MI

When I can speak the language of an expert in another field — when I’m just as knowledgeable as they are, even outside of my own chosen profession.

— SP, Brooklyn
Presenting quantitative information. Stats can’t be questioned!

— Julia, 29, San Francisco, CA

When you've practiced — a lot

I think when I’ve done a particular task or given a particular presentation before and either know it went well or know what I need to do to make it better. Having experience and previous validation helps me feel confident the second go-round.

— Katie, Philadelphia/New York

My second or third time through a major task. By that point I’ve worked out most of the kinks and can just rock and roll.

— Anonymous

When you receive positive reinforcement (yes, please!)

Photo by Mark Adriane on Unsplash
When I receive direct positive feedback from higher ups. Unfortunately I still have that desire to please and to be recognised — not necessarily publicly — but just recognised.

— Anonymous
When I receive positive feedback from a client thanking me for my work.

— Boring corporate lawyer

When you help others out

When I’m mentoring newer colleagues on challenges I’ve worked through before. When I preempted the questions I knew I’d get from clients so I was prepared with ready answers. When I’m contributing to internal initiatives to help the firm work better/smarter and be less shitty.

— Jennifer, Austin, TX
When I am mentoring staff, especially the next generation of leadership for the organization.  I realize then how much I know!

— Marilyn O, 67, moving toward retirement, Ann Arbor, MI

When you’re all in

When I am busy. I know it sounds crazy, but when I am busy and back to back, I feel on top of my shit. I don’t have time to overthink anything, just be a badass boss moving through. I think when we overthink, we start to question ourselves. If we just DID instead of think about it, I find the confidence comes in the doing.

— Caroline S., Executive recruiter but really an actress, Los Angeles
In meetings, when I have been listening well to the conversation and ask an insightful question.

— Jennifer L., Atlanta, GA
When I am doing work that matters; it’s hard for me to feel confident if the work I am doing is insignificant.

— Christian, Kiel, Germany

When your concerns are validated

Ironically, it’s when I learn that others have the same reservations and insecurities that I do. I look at my coworkers that I respect deeply and say, “Well if she can feel like that sometimes but still be such a badass, then surely I can, too!” I have found it deeply empowering to share and listen to my supportive female colleagues about our challenges and hang-ups. The more we share them, the less power they have over us.

— Danielle Oaks, Boston, MA

What do you think? (Leave comments here.)