Self-confidence - if only we could create and bottle it we would make our fortune! The reality is that many women who have taken a career break suffer from a lack of professional confidence. And it’s really not surprising - it’s natural for confidence to fade when we take a long break from an activity that formed a large part of our identity.
The good news is that your professional confidence quickly comes back after a successful return to work. However if you’re struggling with your self-confidence at the moment, take heart from the fact that neuroscience and psychology show that our actions can change our thought patterns to build self-belief. So ‘faking it until you make it’ can often lead to a real increase in confidence.
Top tips for appearing more confident than you really are
- Dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself (read What to Wear to Interviews).
- Walk into the room positively, make eye contact and smile to help build rapport and convey confidence.
- Avoid fidgeting with pens or rings - gently closing your hands can help with this.
- If you're standing, stand up straight with your feet apart. If you're sitting, adopt a wider posture with your feet on the floor.
- Avoid crossing your arms as this can make you seem defensive.
- Speak more slowly and deliberately.
- In interviews, don’t be afraid to take your time when answering a question.
- In a networking situation, instead of being preoccupied by what you want to get across, concentrate on listening to what the person you’re talking to is saying and show interest in them. For more tips read Are you missing the point of networking at an event?
And if your confidence needs a quick boost - here's what to do:
The Power Pose
- For a quick boost of confidence before a stressful event try Amy Cuddy’s two-minute ‘Power Pose’. In her 2012 TED Talk, Cuddy asserted that adopting a dynamic physical stance can make can make us feel more confident. And we can personally attest that the Power Pose works!