Self-confidence was never my forté growing up. I was awkward, extremely shy, and terribly afraid of being judged or made fun of by my peers.
My career path has been an interesting one. I started out as a graphic designer for a mining (yes, I said mining) company, moved to being a graphic designer for a jewelry company, and then a project manager at several smaller advertising and marketing agencies, one of which was my own company.
I did a darn good job for each of these companies. But, I never spoke up for myself. I never called attention to the work I did. I tried to be nonchalant and play things off as if it were no big deal. My expectation was that the right people would just notice the stellar work I had done and the world would be my oyster. Wrong.
I had tiara syndrome. I waited to be noticed … but, I wasn’t.
When I started a new job about a year ago, I told myself enough was enough. I needed to work on my self-confidence. Self-confidence is something that you can always improve upon, but here is where I am currently.
I Raise My Hand
Speaking up for myself was initially a step or a few out of my comfort zone. I realized, though, that if I didn’t speak up for myself, who would? The answer is simple—no one. I engage in groups and activities at my office that are enjoyable to me, but also put me in contact with upper management. If it’s not me sitting in those meetings, it’s going to be someone else—so why not be the one getting that exposure.
But I Know My Limits
I am strategic in what I raise my hand for. My time management skills continue to be sharpened as I navigate through life. I know what I can and cannot handle; I know when to put my hand down. One person cannot do everything. It is my strong preference to let someone else take ownership over an endeavor when I know I cannot give 100% to that particular endeavor.
Ask for Feedback
It’s helpful to have my peers give me feedback on working with me – what is working well and what isn’t. I ask for feedback frequently so that I can continuously improve. Why wait until an annual or end of year review?
I Choose My Words
I no longer apologize at work. “Sorry” has been cut from my vocabulary. I’m not sorry because I was the one being interrupted during a meeting. There is no more “I hate to bring this up” because whatever I’m about to bring up is probably pertinent and should be discussed. Or else, why would I bring it up?
I Ask Questions
I ask a ton of questions. I’m curious and I like learning. There are many, many things I do not know. I will happily admit when I don’t know something. I’m a proponent of Googling words or phrases that are unfamiliar to me. I typically have a different perspective from my colleagues, so my questions sometimes raise awareness of an issue that may have otherwise grown in size had the question not been brought up.
Also, asking questions when you know the answer is a communications tactic that helps a team feel like they have arrived at a solution together. But, let’s just keep that between you and me!