Everyone experiences confidence dips from time to time. What happens, though, when you live in a perpetual self-esteem slump? In that case, you may end up feeling inadequate at work—and end up reaping unwanted outcomes.

The phenomenon of low confidence on the job has become so pervasive that it has a name: imposter syndrome. A recent study on imposter syndrome from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg shows that it can affect anyone from all walks of life. More importantly, the study reveals that imposter syndrome sufferers often sabotage themselves even when they do well. Rather than owning their successes, they’re more likely to attribute them to forces out of their control.

It’s plain to see how this can cause problems in an office setting. If you’re not confident enough to accept and acknowledge your strengths, you could lose out on promotions, raises, and other opportunities. This self-sabotage can create even more problems in the future, especially if you have career ambitions of moving up the corporate ladder.

For many people, giving your confidence a nudge in the right direction can seem overwhelming. Yet fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. You can take several small steps to overcome the symptoms of imposter syndrome, and you can start by following these tips to raise your self-esteem in professional settings.

1. Master even the small aspects of your job.

It’s hard to feel confident when you don’t know what you’re doing. According to Mousumi Behari, digital transformation lead at digital consulting firm Avionos, one of the biggest causes of low confidence involves a lack of education. Behari’s suggestion? Identify and fill any personal knowledge gaps. “Being a subject matter expert at the task at hand is the quickest way to bridge that gap,” she says. “This entails gaining knowledge through research, taking courses, asking peers, etc.”

Sit down and explore your responsibilities. Pinpoint the ones that make you feel a little uncomfortable because you’re not 100% sure how to do them well. Then, seek out ways to gain more insights on specific topics. Eventually, you’ll feel more comfortable with those duties. Plus, you may even become the team’s go-to person on certain subjects. That’s a surefire way to raise your confidence as well as your value.

2. Resist the urge to deflect praise.

Do you tend to deflect kudos in favor of hiding in the background? Now is the time to step up. As Business News Daily contributor Kaylyn McKenna writes, downplaying your accomplishments only takes away your power. “Rather than trying to land a joke, such as

‘Here comes another idea from a less qualified person,’ present your idea how an admired co-worker would — without any qualifiers or self-deprecating humor,” McKenna recommends.

This strategy may feel unnatural at first but will become easier over time. Billions are lost annually due to poor customer service, so if you’re helping to keep customers, then you deserve the praise. To keep yourself on track, pay attention to the words you use when presenting ideas or receiving fist bumps. Temper the desire to push attention away from your contributions and on to other team members. It’s fine to share the spotlight when appropriate, but don’t exit the limelight altogether.

3. Seek out confident mentors.

When it comes to mentorships, you should focus on choosing mentors who represent the level of confidence you’d like to attain. Remember that a mentor can be anyone you know, including a relative, co-worker, boss, or friend. Even if your mentoring arrangement is only informal, you can learn a lot just from observing your confident mentor’s behaviors and responses.

For example, watch how your mentor reacts physically when entering a room, speaking, or even sitting. Then, mirror some or all those body language traits in your work life. Practicing being confident through mirroring is a surprisingly practical, efficient, and reliable way to start feeling more comfortable in social and corporate settings.

4. Spend time on career pathing.

Knowing where you want to go occupationally gives you a sense of direction. As a result, you may end up feeling more confident taking calculated risks that dovetail with where you want to go. Spend a weekend envisioning where you would like to be in one year, three years, and five years. Then, map out possible journeys to bring your desired career path to fruition.

If you’re having trouble working through your goals, consider using an app designed to help you manage your goal-setting. Apps can show all your short-term and long-term goals in one location, allowing you to see clearly what your next steps might be. Just make sure to revisit your career pathing plan at least every six months. Changing work circumstances, such as finding out you really enjoy sales even though you’re in finance, could drive a change in your career path.

Making work decisions is hard to do when your confidence has taken an unauthorized vacation. Fortunately, tapping into the “confident you” is easy with just a little work. Spending time focusing on your goals and following in the footsteps of your mentors will help you gain confidence and ultimately open up doors for new and exciting future opportunities. All you have to do is take the first step.


  • Brittany Hodak

    Keynote Speaker and Author

    Brittany Hodak is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, and customer experience speaker who has delivered keynotes across the globe to organizations including American Express and the United Nations. She has written hundreds of articles for Forbes, Adweek, Success, and other top publications; she has appeared on programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN; and she has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands and entertainers, including Walmart, Disney, Katy Perry, and Dolly Parton. She originated the role of Chief Experience Officer at Experience.com, and she founded and scaled an entertainment startup to eight figures before exiting. Entrepreneur magazine calls her “the expert at creating loyal fans for your brand.” Brittany’s debut book, Creating Superfans, will be in stores on January 10, 2023.