Are you in a business meeting and want to pitch an idea, but feel like you’re too new to the business world or too young to add value right now? You choose not to say anything and then you regret it.
How do you handle this situation in the future? How can you gain confidence at work?
Learning to add your insights and value to the work environment is a process. You learn the nuances of every situation you find yourself in. Remember that your schooling allowed you to learn the material within your major. It doesn’t fully prepare you for situations like this at work. You may never have been in these situations before and will be constantly learning how to handle and approach them.
It will take time, but you’ll be able to recognize the patterns of your company’s culture—how meetings are organized, when to speak up, when to keep quiet, and how to approach your boss, mentor, or senior manager. It will be easier.
In the meantime, here are some suggestions to help you gain confidence at work and make the transition smoother for you:
Gain emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence (or EQ) is becoming increasingly important for professionals everywhere. Why? Understanding the emotional side of life is just as important as the technical/task side of life.
This is EQ as defined by Daniel Goleman, one of the leaders in this field, on his blog:
“Emotional intelligence (EI) includes self-control (self-awareness and self-regulation) plus social intelligence (empathy and social skill). Both are important. Competencies that distinguish top performers from average are based on these fundamentals, such as self-regulation is the foundation of discipline to achieve goals, to be adaptable, and to remain calm and clear under pressure. These leadership skills are learned. — and learnable.
In other words, you must be able to understand yourself emotionally in order to understand and work well with others. Once you do this, you will begin to thrive in your work with others.
To be truly successful in a work environment, you must take your EQ and use it to create strong, compatible, and trusting working relationships. Those relationships will be with your manager, coworkers, and colleagues across the organization. This is essential to building your “currency” among your colleagues.
As you are seen as a reliable and effective colleague, you will get more and more opportunities to shine. One of the most important relationships you can develop is with your immediate supervisor and mentor. Yes, find yourself a mentor either inside or outside the organization. Finding both is actually ideal. An internal mentor will help you navigate your company’s culture. The outside mentor will be objective and will not influence the company or their position in the company.
This is an area that, as a young professional, I wish I had stuck with and never let go. Professional mentors are invaluable. Again, it will take time to build strong partnerships. Be patient and authentic. it will pay off in more ways than you can imagine years from now.
Take a risk
Don’t go on a political rant or go to the CEO’s office to raise a concern. The risk I suggest early in your career is the risk of trying new projects or tasks. Be intentional about the projects you would like to work on. If you see an opportunity to expand your reach, do it, even if you feel uncomfortable; Anxiety is a sign that you will learn and grow from the experience.
Be brave enough, especially after you get a feel for how your organization is doing, to ask to acknowledge what you see as a problem and fix it. Take the initiative and walk. And when you fail (because we all do at some point), then what? Learn from it and move on. Don’t get bitter, don’t sulk or feed your wounds, and never blame someone else for your mistakes. Your “currency” within the organization will be lost.
However, if you are brave enough to try something new and it doesn’t go as planned, but you keep your head up and learn from the mistake, your stature in the organization will rise. Your colleagues will take notice and some may even compliment you on your initiative.
As you develop your EQ, use it to build relationships, and become more intentional in your work activities and direction, your confidence as a young professional will increase.
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This article was originally published on an earlier date.
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