The subject of women’s confidence at work has been a hotly debated subject since the gender confidence gap was highlighted by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in their book The Confidence Code in 2015.
It revealed evidence that women appeared to have less confidence in their abilities at work than men and are more cautious than men at taking risks.
Since then, other experts have argued that the issue is more about the behaviours and culture at work than women’s confidence.
Whichever theory you agree with (or both). From my work with hundreds of clients I know there are certain situations and mindsets that affect women’s career confidence.
I’ve called them confidence traps as they’re easy to fall into and not as simple to climb out of.
Trap 1: Trying To Be Perfect
It had been thought that perfectionism drives excellent results and so can be helpful in your career. Recent studies have shown though that perfectionist workers don’t produce a higher standard of work. In fact, their need to achieve very high standards causes them to procrastinate and take much longer to deliver than their colleagues.
If you fall into the trap of pushing yourself to achieve unrealistic goals and find the stress and pressure it causes are affecting you. Then challenge yourself to keep to the 80:20 rule, with 80% done being good enough. Notice the uncomfortable feelings that come up for you but, don’t try to perfect your work.
Trap 2: Comparititis
This is the disease of comparing yourself to others. It’s okay to look at others and see the things they are particularly good at as long as you don’t use it to define you. Perhaps you have a colleague who talks such a good game that everyone thinks they are fantastic. Or a boss who knows exactly how to manage a client whereas you are tongue-tied. Even a peer whom others pay real attention to when they talk in meetings and you get talked over instead.
Be curious about how they are achieving this. What skills could you learn from them? Would you still be authentic if you were like them?
Comparing yourself to others is not comparing apples with apples, you only see the window dressing of their life and compare it to all of yours. Instead, focus on being the best version of yourself.
Trap 3: Believing Hard Work Wins
In today’s workplace culture it’s not enough to sit at your desk work hard and deliver really well. You will be seen as reliable but, to have your potential recognised you need to work on your visibility.
By visibility, I mean speaking up with your ideas and opinions, taking on new responsibilities, sharing your successes and marketing yourself. People are so busy with their own work that your achievements may go unnoticed and you can do that in a way that’s not boastful or bragging.
Trap 4: Believing Your Inner Critic
Your inner critic is that negative voice that pops up at just the wrong time to tell you “you are not good enough” or “why would they listen to you” or “you can’t do that”.
You can’t stop the voice but you can choose not to believe it. Because all that voice is, is a thought in your head like any other. It comes with an uncomfortable feeling which makes you think it’s real but if you challenge it. You’ll find it’s just a FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real
Do these traps resonate with you?
If yes, then do let me know how you deal with them.
If no, what are your particular confidence traps?
I’d love to have a chat with you about your confidence challenges and you can book a free call with me at www.speakwithjo.com