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How to Gain Confidence in the Workplace

As a young professional in New York, chances are you already have an abundance of confidence. Landing a highly competitive entry-level job with a bank, consulting firm or startup is an accomplishment in itself, and you should rightfully be proud. However, once you arrive for work on that first day, absolute panic can set in with the realization that you now have to prove yourself to whole host of new people in a totally unfamiliar environment. Your confidence might teeter for sure. So how do you best position yourself for success and preserve the winning attitude that got you into the job in the first place? A recent client of mine – a 12-year investment banking veteran – shared the top lessons he’s learned through direct trial and error.

Gain confidence in the workplace (Photo: iStockphoto)

Be aggressive about helping your colleagues
Anytime you have downtime and before you leave the office for the day, walk the floor and ask everyone you encounter, especially your boss, how you can help. Don’t be afraid of getting slammed with an overnight project – 9 times out of 10 people will decline your offer and you can be on your way home. This simple act of kindness does wonders for how people perceive you over time and will ultimately boost your own confidence that you can add value.

Establish a real connection with someone senior in your organization
Take the time to find a mentor who truly has an interest in your professional success. You can tell pretty early on who is genuine about mentoring and who is having coffee with you just so he can list “junior resource development” on his resume. If he has trouble remembering your name the second or third time you meet, it’s time to move on to someone else. Having a mentor you trust will allow you to plan out a path to success within your company and can help eliminate self-doubt about complex situations with your team, manager or role.

Under-promise and over-deliver
I am guessing you are Type A and I am guessing you’ve over-promised and over-delivered all your life. In a competitive professional setting, you need to fight that instinct and manage expectations realistically. If you think in your head two hours of work is what you need, tell your boss you need three and then make sure you kill it. Following this approach will lend itself to generating A-level work, all the time; and once your there, you are golden.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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