How to regain lost confidence in the workplace
It may sound counterintuitive, but studies have consistently shown that a woman's confidence goes down as her work experience goes up. Yes, as well as having to contend with the gender pay gap, and a lack of visible female role models, women are also experiencing a crisis of confidence within the workplace.
Lost confidence in the workplace
The phenomenon of the gender confidence gap has been well quantified and documented.
A study conducted at Cornell University, cited in a 2014 article from The Atlantic - concluded that men tend to overestimate their performance and ability, while women underestimate both. However, in reality, their actual performance, when weighed up, didn't differ in quality or quantity.
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Further, in 2011, the Institute of Leadership and Management, based in the UK, surveyed managers about how confident they feel in their job roles. Half of the female respondents said that they had experienced self-doubt in regards to their performance, and careers writ large, compared to less than a third of their male counterparts.
While it seems self-explanatory - and perhaps even patronising - to state that bridging the gender confidence gap begins with fostering confidence within women, it's undoubtedly one of the most tangible steps we can take as we continue to exist in systemic structures that privilege and reward men over women.
Four Nine spoke to Melissa Britton - a positive psychology practitioner - about some tangible ways in which we can foster confidence in the workplace amongst women.
Reframe the situation
Melissa explained that the "way in which we interpret events and our beliefs around why it happened ultimately determines how we react to the situation."
"While as humans it is in our nature to focus on the bad things, we can take negative situations and reframe how we feel about it," she continued. "For example, if you’re criticised at work, you could reframe the event as a learning experience to enable you to do your job better in the future."
Remind yourself that you have the tools to bounce back
As Melissa says, "it is unrealistic to go through life and not experience setbacks that knock our confidence."
"When something negative occurs in the workplace, and you are in the right space to do so, I encourage you to think back on past negative events and how you got through these. You have bounced back before, and you can do it again."
Bask in your own success
"A great confidence boost is to reminisce about past successes you have had in the workplace in the past, Melissa told us. One of the ways she encourages her clients to do this is by displaying a reminder of successes on their desks.
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Speaking about her own practices, Melissa continued: "In my past role I had a display of the 'thank you' cards I had received. Personally, I also found that this motivated me on really tough days as well, because it was a reminder of the difference I was making through my work."
Savour the moment
When something positive happens in the workplace, Melissa encourages us to savour the feeling in order to build your confidence levels. "There are many different ways of savouring," she explains, and they include, "sharing your good news with others, outwardly expressing your happiness, and reminiscing about past successes."
"When a negative event occurs in the workplace, we can often experience feelings of anxiety and stress," Melissa states. "During such occasions, I would encourage you to take a step back and complete a minute of mindfulness meditation. There are many apps you can use on your phone to complete guided meditations if you are new to mindfulness."
If you have completed mindfulness in the past, and feel unable to leave your desk, she recommends placing a small sticker at the bottom of your monitor, and focusing on it, and your breathing for one minute. This should give you a short break from experiencing symptoms of stress.
Make a different kind of to-do list
"Many people have a to-do list, which in the workplace can take a long time to complete due to other distractions. And this can leave us feeling deflated, and questioning if we are able to do our own job.
"But, if we took the time to acknowledge everything we do through the day, we would often find that we completed a lot of valuable work. On these days, I encourage you to reflect on your working day, and make a new list outlining your accomplishments for the day."
Share the love
Melissa states that a lovely way to improve the wellbeing of a team is to show that they are all individually valued. You can do this by creating a 'gratitude wall' where people can leave comments of appreciation each time they were supported by another team member.
"This benefits both the team member expressing gratitude, and the person receiving the feedback," she explains. "The person expressing gratitude is able to reminisce about a time that they were supported by their colleague. This may boost their mood and confidence knowing that if they have difficulties in the future, they have someone to turn to, whilst the other is made to feel valued."