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Developing greater confidence at work

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in Admins,Office Management

Dana Theus is a leadership consultant and founder of InPower Women. We recently spoke to her about how administrative professionals can develop their confidence and leadership skills to drive change at work.

Why is projecting confidence at work important?

Projecting confidence is much less important than being confident. The distinction is that when you are confi­­dent, you project naturally, au­­then­­tically and easily. The more you work at projecting something you don’t feel, the more you risk coming across as inauthentic. People don’t trust those who are inauthentic, and in any kind of assistant role, trust is your most important asset. All that said, sometimes a little “faking it until you make it” can help you get started.

What advice do you have for an administrative assistant who’d like to develop and project more confidence at work?

So, here’s how you can fake it “a ­little” to begin to develop more confidence. I call this The Silence Trick.

You know that little voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough? It’s one of the biggest reasons we don’t project con­fidence.

The “trick” is to simply not give it voice. You see, when we let it speak through our voice and say things like “well, I may not be the expert, but ....” before we put an idea out there, it telegraphs to everyone around us that we’re not the expert.

The fact is that until we say that, most people aren’t really thinking much about our expertise at all. When we tell them we’re not the expert, they now have a reason to take us less seriously.

So the trick is simply not to voice those words. It can feel inauthentic, however, because often this is how we feel about ourselves. But try—for just a day—to say those words silently, in your head, before you put your idea out there.

Watch closely how other people respond. Even if you don’t feel like the expert, when you speak without apology, they take you more seriously.

What are your favorite resources for developing these skills?

First, find mentors in the office. Notice who you think does a good job negotiating the things you want to learn and then just ask them if they’ll mentor you.

They may ask what that means, and you can tell them that you simply would like them to observe you in action and periodically give you feedback on what you’re doing well and areas they see that you can improve.

Second, be self-reflective. Keep a little journal at your desk and notice when you do something really well or less well than you’d like. Jot it down and then later, over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, think back on what happened.

When things went well, notice why. What did you do that made it work?

Jot a note or draw a picture and it will help you remember to do that again in the future.

When we reflect—and share those reflections with ourselves and others we trust in a focused way—we can unlearn years of habitual response that keeps us from becoming who we are meant to be.

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{ 1 commentsῂ read them below or add one }

Lori December 11, 2012 at 9:04 am

Fake it till you make it pretty much sums it up. It’s easier said than done, but once you take that first step, the rest come pretty easy. I used to be afraid to speak up at meetings for fear of sounding stupid. My heart would pound very hard at just the thought of speaking up, but eventually I just did it and realized what I had to say wasn’t as bad as I thought (of course you can’t shut me up now!). Another starting point is as simple as your posture. If you go slinking around the office quiet as a mouse with your shoulders slumped, you’re not going to be taken seriously. Stand tall, use good posture and walk like you mean business. And for Pete’s sake remind yourself that you are in your position because you knew what you were doing or you wouldn’t have a job. Quiet the self-doubt as best you can and reflect on the things that you’ve done to contribute to your workplace. I see too many people who don’t realize how valuable they are and don’t have much self-confidence in themselves. Keep a “Job Well Done” folder and look back from time to time to reflect on the good things you’re capable of. If you don’t toot your own horn, nobody else will.


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