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Why Confidence is Important in the Workplace

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of confidence is a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. For most of us, this confidence can ebb and flow depending on what is happening in our lives, what people are telling us about our behaviour or worth and what we are telling ourselves.

If we show others that we are confident it gives them faith that we know what we are doing and are capable of achieving the job in hand. However, in my own experience the people who are most confident are not always the people who get things done and make things happen. Personally, I look for more than confidence when meet people to see if I think they can get the job done. I look for skills, I look for people who will do what they say they will. I look for people who have achieved before. I also look for people who have been through challenges and overcome them, because when the going gets tough it is the resilient people who will be able to tackle the most stressful situations, even if they don’t really want to.

However, other people do look at confidence to make a snap judgement on whether or not someone is capable. I was following a discussion on Linkedin recently about confidence and people were saying that if someone has confidence it is because they have tackled difficult situations and have faith in their own ability to achieve again in future situations.

I disagree because people’s confidence can be dented by so many outside influences, by gaslighting, bullying and distortion of what is true by people who feel insecure. If a person has this experience in their childhood they are more likely to repeat these patterns in their adult lives. Even when all the evidence is stacked up that they are capable and can achieve great things, if every single mistake is pointed out as a failure and they are told regularly that they are no good, they will believe it and they will tell themselves the same messages, reinforcing those negative thoughts. This then affects their behaviour and they will not try to achieve as much as someone who hasn’t been given these messages.

So thought patterns affect behaviour which affects the outcome.

What Can we Do About It?

So I wrote a previous blog about the power pose and how effective it can be for giving us confidence during interviews. I find it really works and used it myself a couple of years ago to help me perform well during a series of very stressful situations.

Another practical way of making ourselves happier and subsequently more confident is to focus on what makes us happy and feel good. For the past three years I have taken part in #100HappyDays which you may have seen if you follow me on Facebook. It genuinely made me feel happier and more confident because I made the effort to focus on what makes me happy and I was actively thinking about what my happy would be for that day. The first time I took part I found it really difficult and I enlisted other people to do it alongside me to make it easier. This did work, but other people said they couldn’t do it and made excuses. If I could do this whilst I was experiencing one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, then I have faith that anyone can do it if they really want to do it enough. The good thing about putting it on social media was that people noticed if I didn’t post. And of course there were the odd days where I didn’t post for one reason or another, but because I was doing it to make myself happier I let it go and didn’t beat myself up.

#100HappyDays was one thing I did. It helped but it didn’t flick a switch and make me super happy and confident. Happiness is something we have to work on. It’s a bit like personal hygiene – taking a shower won’t make us clean for the rest of our lives, it’s something we need to repeat over and over again to maintain the cleanliness.

So once #100HappyDays started to get easier I decided to try something else which is a gratitude challenge. So every day at the moment I am thinking about what I am grateful to have in my life. This was in some ways even more challenging than the happiness challenge because I struggled to use the word grateful. Grateful was a word that was thrown around at me a great deal when I was a child, with the SHOULD, MUST and with a bit of shame attached. You should be grateful because I have sacrificed this for you. However in letting this go and reframing the word and what it means for me I was able to embrace it. So these days I am grateful for my body because it has allowed me to start running (and today it hurts because I have used it!) and I am grateful for the love and support of my husband, sometimes I am grateful because I have met up with supportive people in business and other times I am grateful for the clients I am working with because I end up giving them what I need and working with them gives me so much personal development it is a privilege to be able to inspire people and help them to achieve their life goals.

I get feedback a great deal from people who think I have bags of confidence and sometimes the feedback I get surprises me. The most important tip is that if you don’t feel confident, pretend you do. It will fool most people! Eventually you will find that you’re no longer pretending and you can walk into any room in any situation. It is something I am still working on but I have come a long way. I didn’t used to be able to walk into a room and start talking to people I don’t know, but I can now. I never thought I would get on a plane on my own, but last year I stepped on a plane to Barcelona all by myself and navigated the airports and the transfers and it had been at least 10 years since I had been abroad anywhere.

Confidence is something we need to practice both at work and outside of work and one way I have found that helps me feel more confident at work is when I ask to take on projects that stretch and grow me as an individual but that also benefits the organisation I work for. Some of the extras I was involved in at work were setting up and managing a counselling service, expanding and managing a work club, and of course now I have set up and run a whole company which 10 years ago I would never have imagined being able to do let alone actually doing it.

If you want to do something enough, don’t make excuses – make it happen. If you don’t feel like you can do it alone, we are here to help so reach out and ask for help. It’s what I do best! You can contact us here.

Have you got any tips for feeling more confident? We’d love to hear them so tell us in the comments.

Picture Perfect!

Guest Blog, told to us by Gillian Cross

I have worked as a photographer for 20 years, which is the whole of my career. That has started to seem quite unusual, when so many photographers fall into the job as a second career path.

I chose my A-level subjects because I enjoyed doing them. I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do as a career at that point. Then in the summer between my Sixth Form years, I had to think hard about what Further Education I wanted to apply for. I liked watching sports and I liked taking photographs. So I decided that I’d be a sports photographer and enrolled on a B-Tec National Diploma in Photography.

I did that course for two years and learnt everything about the technical and compositional side of photography. It was film in those days and I hadn’t had any previous experience of developing and printing photos.

After the course I could’ve gone on to do an extra year completing a Higher National Diploma but I decided that wouldn’t add to my knowledge and tried to get a job. During my course I had done some work experience in a local commercial studio and also did some after college in another studio who were looking to take on another photographer’s assistant. That was a great experience – taking photos of Christmas decorations in the middle of summer! There were a few of us from college who trialed for that job and unfortunately I didn’t get it.

The main challenge back then was finding a job with a photographer. There were no ads in the job section saying “photographer wanted”. Job Seekers Allowance had just come in so you had to write down every week what you’d done to find work that week. My options were limited. So I went through the Yellow Pages and listed all of the local photographers. I sent letters out each week explaining that I’d just finished a photography course and asking if they had need of another photographer. A couple of them wrote back to say they’d put me on their records, some didn’t write back at all.

Then one day I got a call from a photographer in Ashington who was looking for someone and had just been about to place an advert in the paper. I had saved him the trouble. So I went for a trial and got the job!

College didn’t prepare me for actually photographing people in portraits or weddings so I learnt everything from him as his assistant before I had clients of my own. He also had a mini-lab where we printed people’s holiday snaps so I mostly ended up running that as well. I didn’t mind at the time as it was working with customers and in a small business you get involved in the day to day running of the business.

After two years I was unhappy and was lucky again getting the next job. We occasionally printed other photographer’s work and there was a local schools photographer who used our services. She happened to photograph the school where my mum taught. They got chatting one day and she was looking for another photographer. I went for an interview with some portrait and wedding photos that I’d taken, and got the job.

I was there for ten years and in that time I got married and had a baby. After maternity leave I went back part time for a couple of years but things had changed. I always said I would never become self employed, but someone convinced me it was the right thing to do. Working for a small business not only gave me the photographic experience but also the insight into how to run a business.

I think for creative people, they love doing what they’re good at but don’t always have the skill for running a business. I know that the area I have to work on is marketing. Actually getting the customers through the door. But self employment gives me the flexibility to be there for our son, and to pursue the art side of my career as well as continuing to take photographs which is what I love to do.

You can get in touch with Gillian and see more of her work here. Gillian Cross Photography

Career Change When Pregnant

There are many reasons why you might consider a career change when pregnant. If you’re on the outside looking in on an expectant mother thinking about changing jobs you might think it an odd idea – why complicate your life during one of the most transforming experiences through choice?

Well, there are a number of reasons for considering a career change when pregnant. Here are a few of them:

– You’re looking for a family friendly employer
– Looking for less hours
– You want a job closer to home so you spend less time commuting
– You are looking for more change
– Your job isn’t floating your boat anymore
– Your priorities or values have shifted
– You are worried about your health and safety at work
– You may have insecure work or be facing redundancy
– You may be thinking about giving up work for a few years to bring up your children

Whatever the reason for considering a career change when pregnant, it is certainly not a decision to be taken lightly if the choice is with you.

Beware that other workplaces seem to have more perks than where you work now but in reality they don’t stack up when weighed against the disadvantages. In some workplaces it may be that an employee is not entitled to certain maternity benefits until they have completed a specified period in that employment, so considering changing jobs on that basis would not be worth it due to not being entitled to those benefit on day one of employment.

The employer you are thinking of taking a job with may offer flexible working or the option to work at home. Do they also expect more hours than you are paid for though? Many teachers would relate to this, as they are seen to work term time only but are expected to be up to date with marking work and preparing lessons outside of the contact time with the students, which isn’t always factored in.

Looking for work takes up time and energy and when you are having a baby, you may not have much of either – especially if this isn’t your first baby. If you’ve been pregnant before you will know how tiring it is and if you’re working full time at the same time this can be difficult.

You need to consider your rights when applying for work. Have you asked yourself if it is fair to the new employer to take so much time off just after starting a new job? This is a moral conundrum as in law an employer has no right to ask this question, although in reality this may not always happen. I have certainly experienced situations where I have been asked my plans for having children in an interview and I know I am not alone due to my client work. From a moral perspective it is good practice to discuss this with an employer once they have offered the job. It will help you work out if practically it will work for you, and it will help the employer plan for your absence. If you are being brought in to troubleshoot a problem then it may have an impact on the business when you are off work, so it is fair to explore this with an employer.

It’s important to know your rights if things do go wrong so you can be armed with the facts.

Pregnant employees have four main rights:

– Paid time off for antenatal care
– Maternity leave
– Maternity pay or maternity allowance
– Protection against unfair treatment, discrimination and dismissal

You can find out more about your rights here.

If you want help to look for a new job, whether or not you are expecting a bundle of joy, you can contact us here.