How to Improve Confidence and Self-esteem in the Workplace

From fear of public speaking to insecurity about your abilities, confidence can be a difficult nut to crack. However, help and expert advice are at hand

Let’s face it, many people have experienced self-doubt at some point in their lives. But sadly, for some people, lack of confidence can be a regular occurrence. So much so that it may start to impact both their personal and working lives.

If such feelings sound familiar, this blog is for you. We’ve teamed up with the workplace wellbeing experts, Mind It, to shine a light on self-confidence vs. self-esteem. Stay tuned for definitions and advice on how to improve our feelings about ourselves.

What are self-confidence and self-esteem?

Self-confidence and self-esteem are two phrases that often get mixed up, in short:

  • Self-confidence is a belief in your own abilities to succeed
  • Self-esteem is how good you feel about yourself – your sense of self worth

Here’s a simple table showing how self-confidence and self-esteem often work in unison:

self confidence
Image from Self Leadership Initiative

How can I build self-confidence?

In order to build your self-confidence, Mind It suggests trying a few simple techniques…

Fake it ‘til you make it – it may sound cliché, but simply acting assured can boost genuine feelings of self-confidence. Here are some tips are simple to integrate into your day-to-day life:

  • Use power poses
  • Listen to motivational music and create a power playlist
  • Dress to impress
  • Wear a scent you love

In addition, Mind It recommends using the ‘Stretch & Rest’ model to help build self-confidence:

The ‘comfort zone’ is a familiar place where we feel safe, secure and unchallenged. Many people like to live their lives here! However, if you settle into your comfort zone it becomes easy to forget to push yourself. This can limit our progression with self-confidence and is where the ‘Stretch & Rest’ model comes in…

Stretching and then resting involves momentarily stepping out of your comfort zone to try something that challenges your self-confidence. For example, if you try public speaking once and then have a break, the next time you do it you’ll likely feel more confident. It’s all about becoming more comfortable with the activity via safe, gradual steps.

Plus, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone also helps to build your resilience! It’s win-win.

self confidence
Image from Self Leadership Initiative

Another key part of building self-confidence is managing our negative thoughts. Next time you’re experiencing feelings of self-doubt, try using THINK.

●        True – Is it factual, what evidence do you have?

●        Helpful – Is this thought leading to growth or action?

●        Inspiring – Does it lift your mood or motivate you?

●        Necessary – Is this thought important to have?

●        Kind – Would you say this thought to another?

If you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions, take a moment to step back and consider whether your negative thoughts are beneficial to the situation. Remember, be as kind to yourself as you would be to others!

How can I build self-esteem?

Firstly, it’s important to note that what helps one person to build their self-esteem may not help another. Creating feelings of self-esteem can be difficult at first, but there are plenty of resources to help you.

In his TED article, Psychologist Guy Winch shares top tips that can improve your sense of self-worth.

  1. Use positive affirmations correctly – Affirmation journals have become increasingly popular over the past few years, however it can be difficult for someone with low self-esteem to make aspirational statements about themselves. If you’re struggling, alter your affirmations to make them more accessible. Instead of saying “I’m going to get a promotion” try “I’m going to persevere until I get a promotion”.
  2. Identify your competencies and develop them – Quite simply, do more of what you’re good at. If you know you’re a good singer (and importantly, you enjoy it too), join a choir, try an online course or simply let loose while cooking your dinner!
  3. Learn to accept compliments – It can be really tricky to accept compliments when you struggle with low self-esteem. Rather than rejecting the kind words, try to reply to compliments with simple phrases such as “thank you” or “how nice of you to say that”.
  4. Eliminate self-criticism and introduce self-compassion – Sometimes, we can be our own worst critics. Being self-aware is great, but remember self-compassion too. Ask yourself, would I say these thoughts to another person? If not, then try not to think them about yourself.

How can employers help to build employees’ self-confidence in the workplace?

According to Harvard Business Review, “When employees lack self-confidence, it can be hard to get them to perform at their best”. However, there are many ways in which employers can support their teams.


  • Provide your employees with detailed, positive feedback on their strengths. Remember to praise specific accomplishments and offer guidance through more difficult tasks.
  • Build trust with your employees and show you care about their wellbeing. This takes time but can be as simple as asking about their favourite hobbies, food or tasks at work.


  • Make assumptions. Someone may appear to lack self-confidence, but this could be a coping mechanism or long-standing personality trait. It’s vital to be considerate when approaching this conversation. Move at your employees’ pace and don’t forget to ask questions.
  • Be unclear. Make sure that employees understand their tasks, deadlines and the resources available to them. Convey your expectations clearly and simply to ensure everyone is confident in their role.

Thank you to Mind It for taking part in this blog post. You can book the Mind It Self-confidence webinar here.