These 2 mental techniques can help you feel more confident at work, according to a careers coach

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These 2 mental techniques can help you feel more confident at work, according to a careers coach
Sarah Ellis is a careers coach, author, and podcaster.Penguin Random House / The Amazing If
  • It's common to suffer from a lack of confidence or the feeling of being an imposter at work.

  • Reframing your doubt and saying your name aloud can help, says careers coach Sarah Ellis.
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Many people suffer from a lack of confidence at work. Even those seemingly at the top of their game aren't immune to feeling like they're an imposter, or stealing a wage.

Although some manage to put their doubts aside, for others the long-term impact can be detrimental, stopping them from pursuing promotions or leaving jobs altogether.

The reason many people can suffer from a lack of confidence — even if they're deemed by others to be doing really well — is that we're rarely taught how to think about our careers in a practical way, said Sarah Ellis, a careers coach and presenter of the Squiggly Careers podcast.

When it comes to guidance about how to practice self-awareness, this is particularly the case. But it is possible to learn.

Ellis is the co-author of "You Coach You: How to Overcome Challenges and Take Control Of Your Career," which provides practical coaching advice and coping techniques.

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When helping clients cope with their "confidence gremlins," as Ellis calls them, she always recommends these two techniques.

Reframe your perspective

The psychologist Susan David first promoted the idea of "seeing your doubts as data," in a 2017 TEDTalk, which has been viewed nearly 10 million times. The perspective with which we view them can affect how we feel, suggested Ellis.

If you're reflecting back on a situation where maybe you're giving yourself a hard time, or you feel like you didn't do as good a job as you liked, try to view it from the perspective of an objective bystander.

"Sometimes just seeing your situation from the perspective of a fly on the wall can be really helpful, "Ellis said.

Distancing ourselves from a situation or our own actions can help someone see a situation more realistically and resist being too hard on themselves.

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Say your own name out loud or in your head

It sounds ridiculous, said Ellis, but sports stars or people working in high-pressure environments will often use this technique to calm their nerves.

It's one of the techniques that's also recommended by the University Of Michigan neuroscientist Ethan Kross, in his book "Chatter," which focuses on handling the internal monologue of thoughts that go on inside our head.

"Rather than thinking 'I'm not going to be good enough' or 'I'm really nervous', actually say 'Sarah, you know you can do this' or 'Sarah, you know you've got a good record' — be positive" Ellis said.

Of course, blind optimism is no antidote to the many, very real barriers that can impact people's career paths, but flipping how you approach some situations to view your own capabilities more positively can help you build mental strength and feel more confident in some situations.

In a similar way that giving yourself distance can change your perspective, saying your own name can frame how you think about it, according to Ellis. Even if you just say it in your head it can be a small way of reminding yourself what you can do, versus what you feel like you can't.

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Ellis said the best leaders now are much more prepared to be empathetic and vulnerable. They give their colleagues the ability to do so too.

"I can promise you, everybody has those doubts," she added. "We don't need to present perfection, because no one is perfect."

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