My list of 10 ways to exude confidence at work is inspired by a recent Forbes.com article, How To Be More Confident At Work, which caught my attention for a couple of important reasons. Truth is, looking and feeling confident in your 9-5 isn’t just about wearing the right clothes. It’s about your attitude.
Build confidence by having healthy self-esteem. Many of my clients work to enhance theirs by focusing on these 10 ways to exude confidence, whether for work or social reasons. The level of confidence you project communicates volumes about your personal brand, especially when as it pertains to your career.
Since attaining personal brand strategist certification by Reach, founded by William Arruda, his quotes in the article speak to me. I hope you’ll read the article.
Here are my 10 ways to exude confidence at work:
1. Stay focused on you
Typically, you want to “dress to impress,” right? That’s at least the conventional wisdom. But that means focusing on everyone else’s reactions of you. When you stay focused on you – what you want to achieve by making a change in your appearance – you will be thinking about the desired outcomes you seek, and not whether this person or that person likes or approves of what you’re wearing, or that you’re entirely fitting into a culture.
2. Identify your strengths and capitalize on them
When it comes to your image, make the most of the internal strengths of your personality and of your strong physical external attributes. Together, these inner-outer strengths can be highlighted to tell a great, authentic story about who you are.
3. Identify weaknesses, and work on them
Similar to strengths, give attention to overcoming weaknesses. If you need to develop certain personality traits, or if you have neglected your personal style for some time, you can work having a breakout experience. It’s amazing what a new hairstyle can communicate about you. Yet, it’s important that the right hairstyle not only works for your facial shape, but conveys the right messages, besides saying, “See everyone, I changed my hairstyle.” Let it mean something.
4. Believe in yourself
Even if your self-esteem is waning, find a flicker of light in all that darkness and hold onto it for all it’s worth. If you don’t believe in yourself no one else will. You can dress in the best that money has to offer, and you still won’t be believable. Believing in yourself affects your image because it helps you walk taller, make stronger eye contact, give a proper handshake, and simply own your personal space. Believing in yourself is the root of having presence.
5. Monitor your successes
Clients constantly report to me their successes based on the improvements to their appearance and image. “Five people complimented me on the first day of the conference, including a key person I was eager to meet who talked about how great I looked before I could introduce myself.” “I know that I was the best dressed at that party. I loved it, and so did my husband!” “My wardrobe has me looking great and sending the kind of consistent message I want to send.”
6. Know that your confidence may be threatened at times
Success and change threaten some people, even when they like and need it. Men at the office tend to dress for one another. It’s a form of tribal behavior. Know that people may target and tease you for making improvements. “Are you having a mid life crisis?” The answer may be an emphatic, “NO!” But you need to stay the course and remain unshaken because of others’ lack of self-confidence when they direct it toward you. Taking a leading role has its challenges.
7. Seek encouragement from others
The key people in your life, your spouse or partner, family members, close friends, long time colleagues all want to see you be successful. Let them give you encouragement. Talk with your executive coach or image consultant for professional encouragement, too. Success comes from having a team around you that supports your dreams. You don’t have to do it alone.
8. Challenge yourself
Leaders and innovators don’t accept the status quo. Why would you take the lowest common denominator approach to your image? It actually looks like you have less self-esteem, and therefore confidence. In converse extreme cases, as we see with Silicon Valley leaders, paying no attention to your image suggests a level of arrogance, that may not really exist within. But externally, this ignorance creates a perception problem. Challenge yourself to look better.
9. Be a role model of positive attitude
A good appearance and image can be transformational to you, but can also help you be a role model. When you look good, you exude a positive attitude and show leader-like qualities. Within your role at your company or within your workgroup, and based on your career goals, wearing certain kinds of clothing styles and colors will instantly help you project these inner qualities so others can get a whole new impression of you and be inspired by you.
10. Carefully consider how you react to your boss’ and colleagues’ reactions
As you roll out an updated, modern, and more sophisticated appearance, personal style, and image, you should plan on getting the attention of your boss [or your board, if you’re the CEO] and your colleagues. Heads will turn. You didn’t go into updating your image for people to ignore you! The key is to think through how you want to handle it when it happens. Remember the earlier point about others potentially teasing you. Quite honestly, teasing can be a compliment, especially among men, because they’re still coming around to being comfortable with making genuine compliments. Men are so competitive. And so are women, for that matter. So have a plan, and don’t panic. Sweating or clamming up is not one of the 10 ways to exude confidence.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps high-profile individuals revitalize, manage, and be secure in their personal visual brand. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.