Getting Started Professional Development

5 Strategies for Faking It ‘Til You Make It at Work

Written by Kate Lopaze

In an ideal world, we all know what we’re doing all the time. People come to us for our calm guru-ness, grateful as we solve problems with a self-assured answer or bit of advice. In reality, we don’t know it all. But with a bit of bravado and a lot of confidence, shhh…no one else needs to know that.

Here are six things to work on to increase your workplace confidence, which can help you get that raise or lead a team to professional glory.

1. Stop fearing failure

Failing at something is not the end of the world. When I think about failing at work, it inevitably starts an imagined spiral of doom which ends with me on the unemployment line, wailing and gnashing my teeth over how things went so very wrong. But you know what? Things move forward when something (or someone) fails. It may be a stressful time, but you learn a lot about your problem-solving skills and your ability to rebound.

Once you realize that your professional life is not over if you make a mistake or don’t accomplish a particular goal, you can use that to build your confidence and see lousy outcomes as a chance to rebound into better things. (Note: I do not recommend using this method of confidence-building if you’re a heart surgeon.)

2. Realize you’re not a fraud

Are you familiar with imposter syndrome? It’s where you feel like you’re a sham and that everyone will somehow find out that you’re secretly winging it, or that you’re really a helpless kid wearing a tie and sitting in a cubicle. But you’re not winging it—the person sitting at your desk is you, with all of your experience and knowledge, whether you realize you have that arsenal or not. Own it! Your successes and your decisions belong to you, even if you feel unsure about them.

3. Don’t always wear rose-colored glasses

Optimism can be great…no one likes a Debbie Downer. However, overly optimistic thinking can actually undermine your confidence. It may give you a false sense that things will turn out well, and let you kinda go on autopilot to let things play out. The more confident approach is to be realistic about outcomes and understand what is within your power to make that happen.

4. Figure out your value

One of the best ways to be confident in your role is to recognize the strengths you bring to the table. Once you understand what you do well, you can strategize how to apply that to areas where you might be struggling a little or looking to build up experience or competence.

You don’t have to go it alone—it’s fine to ask your boss or a colleague what they think your strengths are. In fact, it shows your boss that you’re taking a proactive approach to your role and really trying to bring your best self. What you learn about yourself (or what you take from your self-evaluation) can make you feel more competent in how you approach challenges.

5. Make confidence a habit

You may roll your eyes at the idea of doing daily affirmations in your mirror every morning, but honestly—it can’t hurt to make some positive thinking part of your daily routine. When you’re walking the dog, doing yoga, or waiting in line at the smoothie place, take a minute to reflect on any challenge you’re facing and think about how you are going to overcome it. Don’t stress about the how (not yet, anyway). Think about how you have the skills to take it on, and assure yourself that you will get it done.

The confidence is there for the taking—you just need to be bold and grab it.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.