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Self-Confidence Lessons for The Working Women

Does it ever feel like everyone around you is confident and sure of themselves? Whether you are just starting in your career or have been working for many years, everyone experiences self-doubt and a lack of confidence at one time or another.

While some believe that confidence is something you learn, others believe it is something you're born with. But does confidence come easier for one gender or another?

The confidence gap is a theory that women underestimate their abilities due to factors ranging from their upbringing to biology. Research showed that women were less likely to apply for jobs, negotiate for raises, and if they did negotiate, ask for less money than men. 

Whether you believe that the confidence gap is fact or fiction, one statement rings true. There are hurdles in women’s heads that discourage self-promotion, confidence and taking risks. 

In light of International Women’s Month, we’ve gathered tips from female experts in business, management and leadership to help women befriend their inner critic, overcome self-doubt, and move forward in their careers bravely. 

Practice Self-Compassion

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Perfectionism is for the birds. Speaker and consultant, Dr. Margie Warrel, writes in an article for Forbes that it is not self-esteem or optimism that helps people handle their challenges best, but self-compassion. She says that “When you embrace your humanity, own your fallibility and choose to show up fully, authentically, as the ‘flawsome’ woman that you are, you give others permission to do the same.” This idea also expands our capacity for action, connection and contribution.

When interviewed on Warrel’s podcast Live Brave, author and workplace wellbeing teacher, Michelle McQuaid, echoed this sentiment when she said that embracing our raw moments and our jagged edges makes us real, relatable and allows us to forge the most authentic connections with others.

Cultivate Self-Awareness

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Life coach Lisa Jeffs writes in her article that increasing self-awareness allows you to live a successful life and meet your full potential. Understanding how you come across is important for leadership, as you cultivate awareness of your own physical and verbal mannerisms. Jeffs says by “Being self-aware about the day to day decisions we make, we ensure that we are acting for ourselves”. By doing this we protect ourselves from self-sabotaging behaviors such as doubt and lack of confidence. 

Share Your Aspirations

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Seek our mentorship from those who project both confidence and care and can promote you and your accomplishments. Melissa Richardson, an expert in mentorship and director of The Art of Mentoring, reported that upon completion and even one-year post completion of a mentoring program, mentees report an increase in self-confidence as a key benefit of the program, whether or not it was a goal at the outset.

There are also many benefits to mentorship for women besides a boost of self-esteem. Mentorship is critical to successful careers for young professionals, as a mentor can push you to seek out advancement and help make sure you have the tools to succeed. Liz Elting, global CEO and entrepreneur wrote in an article for Forbes that “Mentorship creates the opportunities that open more doors to more women, which just keeps the ball rolling.”

Encourage Collaboration

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Executive coach, Hannah Hart, recommends in a Forbes article to be a champion and amplifier for others. Supporting women’s ability to talk about their achievements without backlash helps increase a culture of confidence and collaboration. Liz Armbruester, Senior Vice President of Global Compliance at Avalara, echoed the importance of encouraging unity when she said in an interview with Penny Bauder, “Nothing is more destructive for a team than a leader who is unwilling to collaborate.”

Be Vulnerable

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Author and researcher on vulnerability, Brené Brown, believes that the only way humans can truly connect is to embrace vulnerability. Befriending your inner critic and recognizing your weaknesses is part of being your authentic self. Brown advocates for “daring to lead” as the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage. She said that “We can’t be authentic with others unless we are honest and share all of who we are, and that includes our vulnerabilities.”

Demonstrate Grit

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Psychologist Angel Duckworth studies the power of passion and perseverance and says that “grit” is what pushes successful people to reach very long-term goals. She believes that having a growth mindset can be a vehicle for growing grit. Having a growth mindset is an idea developed at Stanford University by Carol Dweck and it is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, and that it can change with effort. Duckworth said at Ted Talks Education 2013 that “By testing our best ideas and strongest intuitions with the willingness to be wrong, we can start over again with lessons learned”. Developing a growth mindset is key for growing confidence because by doing so, you understand that your abilities can grow through hard work. 

Be a Trailblazer

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As the youngest Editor-and-Chief of Teen Vogue, Elaine Welteroth told Good Morning America that women need to push back on the messages that make them feel like they are not enough and instead believe that they are even if they are a “work in progress”. Getting past the imposter syndrome that so many women experience is about experiencing the highs and lows and still being a trailblazer for not only yourself but for future sheroes. 

We hope this list from female leaders has inspired you to take steps in your career bravely and confidently. To feel even more confident in your skin, explore our women’s work-from-home outfits that blend comfort and polish.