How to be more confident

Close up of two hands shaking


Confidence is one of the big barriers to career success, whether it is returning to work after a break, setting up a business or asking for a pay rise.

So what can be done to build it up, particularly in circumstances – whether a workplace culture or home environment – that might undermine it?

Gill Hasson has spent years working in personal development and has specialised in the areas of confidence and self-esteem, communication skills, assertiveness and resilience.

Her new book, Confidence Pocketbook, provides a practical set of tools for every situation, from body image and body language to speaking in public and making small talk.

But can you learn confidence? Hasson’s argument is that learning to be confident in one situation can have a chain effect, boosting your self esteem generally and making you more able to handle the next situation.

She says self-confidence is not about what you can or can’t do, but about what you think you can or can’t do. It goes hand in hand with self-esteem, which she says is a belief about your value as a person.

Her book begins with some general tips on building confidence through, for instance, avoiding comparisons with others, surrounding yourself with positive people, doing more of what you enjoy, particularly creative things, knowing what your core values are, not overthinking things, assessing your strengths and weaknesses and setting yourself realistic goals.

She then lists tips for particular situations, whether personal, social or work-based.

On changing your job or career, she advises being clear on what your core values are and what is important to you in the work you do, whether that is helping others, prestige, status, creativity or something else. Once you have done this, Hasson advises talking to people who are in the line of work you’re interested in as well as people who have successfully changed career direction – or reading about them.

For those returning to work after an extended break, whatever the reason – redundancy, maternity leave, caring, illness or parenting – she advises focusing on your strengths in your cv and just giving a simple reason for the gap in your career. Support is vital for writing the cv, even if it is only through Googling how to write your cv, she adds. The next step is to build confidence through a gradual return, for instance, starting on fewer hours and increasing them, temping, getting a reduced hours job or volunteering. Brushing up knowledge and skills, or learning new ones, can also boost your feeling that you are back in the game.

Other scenarios in the book include:

  • networking with confidence – Hasson advises doing your homework, setting a goal for each networking event, networking one person at a time and following up
  • asking for what you want, including flexible working or more pay – Hasson says it is vital to be clear about what you want, to anticipate the other person’s response, to have a back-up plan and to build your confidence by identifying things you are only slightly uncomfortable with and starting with those
  • preparing for a job interview. Again it’s important to prepare by reading the organisation’s website and social media, learning about what they do, reading your application and thinking through answers to key questions such as why do you want this job. Hasson adds that body language matters as does dressing for how you want to feel. She says practising with a friend beforehand can help as can listening to music which fits how you want to come across
  • Dealing with bullies. Hasson suggests getting support from specialist bodies, thinking seriously about leaving the bullying situation whether a job or a relationship – that puts you in the positive position of being in control, identifying your values and minimising your chances of being bullied in the future through learning to be more assertive.

Hasson says: “Confidence is a positive dynamic: learn to be more confident in one situation and you’ll find it boosts your confidence and self-esteem in other situations, at work, in public, with family and friends and in social situations. Confidence is life’s enabler; life really does improve as your self-confidence and self-esteem grow.”

*Confidence Pocketbook is published by Capstone, price £8.99.

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