Are you truly unlocking your full potential at work? This question remains elusive for many, especially considering a staggering 79% of women, in contrast to 62% of men, regularly grapple with a lack of confidence in their professional lives. This revelation, brought to light by My Confidence Matters, an organization dedicated to empowering businesswomen, exposes a pervasive issue cutting across industries, irrespective of business size or job title.
Notably, this confidence deficit not only hinders women from realizing their career aspirations, with confidence cited as a pivotal barrier to climbing the corporate ladder, but it also renders the workplace uninspiring and mundane. Compounding this issue is the persisting gender pay gap, standing at 8.3% among full-time employees, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Research findings, coupled with the lived experiences of many, unveil a disconcerting reality: women are less likely to be promoted than their male counterparts, despite often receiving higher performance ratings. Moreover, women tend to undervalue their own performance compared to equally performing men. In the face of these challenges, the question arises: How can individuals, particularly women, overcome these confidence barriers and unleash their full potential at work?
A study by Ultimate Resilience suggests that a subtle yet powerful solution lies in adopting a ‘power pose.’ A clinical psychologist and co-founder of Ultimate Resilience explain that standing in a strong, upright posture, legs slightly apart, and arms open – commonly seen as a masculine stance – can elevate testosterone levels, leading to a boost in confidence. Over a decade of research attests that our posture significantly influences our perceived confidence, with those adopting power poses before challenging meetings demonstrating increased coping effectiveness.
The age-old adage “less is more” finds resonance in the workplace, especially for those battling nervousness during meetings. A chartered psychologist advocates for disciplined communication, advising individuals to avoid contributing just for the sake of it. Instead, waiting for the opportune moment to speak and delivering high-impact responses is encouraged. The importance of tone, pace, volume, and body language should not be underestimated, with the psychologist highlighting that a calm, low voice in a firm, questioning tone exudes confidence.
Strategic language choices can further enhance confidence in the workplace. A behavioural psychology expert suggests making declarative statements instead of inundating conversations with questions. Addressing decision-makers as peers, not final authorities, can shift the dynamics positively.
A pervasive habit that women, in particular, should confront is unnecessary apologizing. The psychologist warns against this behavior, asserting that it can cast doubt on expertise, knowledge, capability, and confidence. Apologizing without a proper basis may dilute the impact of genuine apologies in the future.
An intriguing tactic to boost confidence involves creating an alter ego, a strategy famously employed by a well-known artist. The psychologist recommends borrowing techniques, style, and language from those admired and molding them into a personal, authentic style. This approach allows individuals to tap into qualities they find compelling or admirable in others.
Music, as research suggests, can serve as a powerful confidence booster. Energetic tunes were found to make people feel powerful and dominant. Additionally, wearing the right colors can convey confidence, with specific colors associated with strength, passion, professionalism, and a clean and efficient persona.
Beyond the workplace, starting the day right can set a positive tone. Maintaining a good sleep routine, expressing gratitude during the commute, and arriving at work mindfully can contribute to a calm mind and reduce stress levels, fostering a sense of control over daily tasks.
In conclusion, as workplaces grapple with issues of confidence and gender disparity, individuals can employ these strategies to navigate the professional landscape more assertively. Overcoming confidence barriers is not only essential for personal growth but also contributes to a more inclusive and dynamic work environment. As we strive for gender equality, it is crucial to address these challenges collectively and foster an atmosphere where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential.