How Does Your Confidence Affect Your Work?

confidence-beautyI want to thank a reader (Melanie sent me a lovely email) for picking me up, giving me a pat on the butt and making me smile.

My point is this…

Confidence Affects My Work

“In order to recognize our self-image, we can no longer identify with it. In other words, we have to learn how to objectify our own mental processes.”
– Matthew Flickstein, Journey to the Center

When we have confidence in who we are, we feel like we are on top of the world. The problem is these fleeting feelings are all a big chase. I know that I’m advocating solid ideas on Work Happy Now, but sometimes I do give in to self doubt. I worry that I could be giving more value. I worry that people will get bored with the content.

These are natural feelings, but sometimes they are very hard to deal with.

Our Interpretations

We create stories, ideas, and problems that can hurt our confidence. It’s up to us to pick and choose what helps us become stronger people, but we can’t let our personal interpretations dictate how we feel. We need to be able to stand back from the negative and positive and just smile. Both give us value. Both teach us.

Your problems and personal stories aren’t necessarily good or bad until you decide that they are so. Finding your own mental/emotional strength will help you take your career and life to a new level. You don’t need your boss to compliment your every move. You don’t have to let a negative comment bring you so far down that you question your choices.

You can stand back from the push and pull of petty and sweet comments. You understand that many comments can be interpreted as political, skewed, and confused. Nothing is ever as it really seems. There are always layers beneath layers.

Thank you, Melanie, for showing me my weakness in a new light. While your compliment helped me, there are times I rely on others too much. It helped me reconnect with the strength that I have inside myself that can’t be touched by the way that other people treat me on any given day. Melanie might love what I do, but I don’t rest my confidence on her. I can’t. If I expected a wonderful email every single day to keep my confidence soaring high, I would be unhappy on most days.

Emotional Strength

I’ve developed a lot of emotional strength in my fifteen year working career, but sometimes I still fall into the bad habit of taking someone’s comment too seriously. In reality, what people say doesn’t define me. Nothing defines me, not even me. (I know that sounds a little existential, but interpretation is a tricky thing.)

That is why interpreting thoughts is an art, not a science. There is no black and white, only various shades of emotions.

I’m learning to step away from my thought process and the feelings that result from my thoughts. Once you learn to stop allowing your interpretations to dictate how you feel, you will begin to improve your emotional intelligence. The last time you were in a good mood and you heard something negative, how did you react? You probably didn’t let it affect your confidence, but how about a similar comment when your confidence was on shaky ground? I bet it was more likely to send you into a tizzy, an emotional whirlwind, because you interpreted the person’s statement depending on how you felt at the time.

Perceptual Contrast

When we interpret comments and actions based on our own or someone else’s feelings, we get a distorted perspective. This ends up happening every time someone makes a comment because we are always in some kind of mood. This perceptual contrast dictates our feelings. We often fool ourselves because we believe what feels good. When we are able to recognize this, we can adjust accordingly.

If you have an argument with a co-worker about a controversial subject like abortion rights, then you must be willing to understand that the person may have a history that you don’t know about. Don’t be so stubborn that you can’t acknowledge their feelings. When you can learn to use emotional intelligence, you will win friends instead of creating enemies.

You may feel that the other person is wrong, and that’s ok, but it’s important to understand that it’s their perception of their own personal experiences that has brought them to their conclusion.

You shouldn’t get too attached to your own thoughts either. Once your ego decides to defend your feelings, it’s tough to let go and move on.

You should listen to others, but don’t let it touch your soul. The “core you” that knows what you are trying to accomplish should be strong and stay strong. It’s when you aren’t sure about what you are trying to do that negative comments tend to shake your foundation if you feel your foundation weakening then reassess. If you decide that you are on emotionally shaky ground but your idea is solid, then just continue on. If it feels more like these comments hit your “core you,” then maybe you were fooling yourself into believing a lie in the first place.

Only you know where your confidence is grounded. That’s why reflection is so important. It helps you separate the comments that really matter from the ones that can be let go so you can get back to doing work that matters to you.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that confidence affects your work? Do you feel that the “core you” should be fluid or solid?

Join over 300 people who have already subscribed to the FREE Happy at Work 10 Week eCourse. It will arrive in your inbox every Monday morning. When you need it the most.


Need help with your career? Check out Miriam’s blog Keppie Careers. One of my latest favorites is Tenacity in the job hunt – does it define you?

If you enjoyed this post you’ll probably like these too:

Image courtesy of bejealousofme


  1. I loved this post. I really do think confidence affects work in a big way. I see it a lot at my office — those with more confidence tend to get things done quicker (no second guessing) and tend to seem more fulfilled at work (they at least appear that way). Love the write up you did on this topic!

  2. Hello Karl

    I have a strong feeling that at the root of all that you wrote here is nothing more than our ego.

    Our ego wants to be right – and will often try to do so at any cost. Even if it means having quarrels with loved ones or co-workers on a regular basis.

    Our ego does not want to accept the value system of another, for that would compromise who “it” is and thus it has to make sure it is heard loud and clear that it does not agree with another, and the other cannot possibly be right.

    Our ego needs approval.

    Our ego needs to feel like it is important.

    And it is our ego that constantly makes us question ourselves.

    Our inner being has no problem with confidence, because it knows that it is the all. There is nothing it is not, or nothing that it lacks.

    But our ego lives by comparison, – how am I being? doing? performing? working? in comparison to others…

    If we can thus recognize that and learn how to disassociate from our egos more, we will find that we can be more free to express ourselves how we really want, without worrying so much what our external environment will say and thus be so much more productive in our work too.

  3. I have confidence in my wisdom, writing, coaching and speaking. I completely lack confidence in my tech skills. Probably due to no matter how much I learn it’s never enough because things change so often and there’s a zillion new things daily.

  4. Hi Karl — I liked what you said about stepping back from the ups and downs created by external events — I can definitely relate to having moments of relying on praise or recognition, and when I wouldn’t step back from that cycle I would inevitably have to deal with down periods when I wasn’t getting “enough” praise.

  5. Hi Karl,

    In my years of working, I have always noticed that those who cause the most problems are usually those who struggle with their ego. The weaker the ego, the bigger the problem.

    People who usually are cool with themselves, usually are great to work with because they do not need to prove how wonderful or intelligent they are.

  6. Hi Karl!

    This is so true! I love that you’re taking this conversation to the next level by opening up about your own experience. I too tend to take comments personally. But somehow the bad comments tend to “stick” more.

    You’ve got a great take on confidence for work. I love it! I think we do need to keep up confidence up, it’s kind of like working our muscles. 😉

  7. Hi Karl! Thanks so much for coming to Erasingthebored to visit Megan! She is truly a Joy Girl!

    I enjoyed reading your blog and how you are dealing with the confidence issue. I do think your confidence affects your work, AND your relationships. If I catch myself taking some negative comment personally, it’s my instant signal that my ego is involved. I’ve learned over the years that someone else’s opinion is simply THEIR version of reality and nothing more. I’m glad you have met the acquaintance of Byron Katie’s “work” because the truth questions are so helpful, aren’t they?

    Interesting blog – I’ll be back!

  8. Hi Positively Present, Truly confident people have a quicker time making a decision. They trust their instincts.

    Hi Evita, Ego does play a big part of our confidence. When we let go and stop being so attached to our ego we can be wiser in how we look at people’s reactions.

    Hi Tess, Great point. We lack confidence in various areas. We just have to find our strong points to accentuate.

    Hi Chris, I think we all have our moments with praise or lack of.

    Hi Nadia, They have trust in who they are and the people around them can feel that.

    Hi Nathalie, It’s so true that negative comments are harder to let go.

    Hi Suzen, “Their version of reality” Yes, I like that.

  9. Karl…cool post. What I walk away with most is that we ultimately have a choice in whether we make enemies or create friends, focus on our weakness or our strength and allow ourselves to emerge into our confidence or cower in our fear. This is up to us. Your post serves as important reminder to make this choice consciously everyday of how I want to be in this world.
    Thanks as always!

  10. Wow, what a fantastic post! I loved what you wrote here: “In reality, what people say doesn’t define me. Nothing defines me, not even me.” That is so so true, from my experiences in life. People tend to judge themselves using other people’s yardsticks, or in comparison to others. We’re all unique, though, which means we cannot be compared. Not truly, anyway.

  11. My husband and I were talking about confidence just yesterday. It is a tricky thing. And judgment, well, judgment is the root of a lot of evil.

    I’m getting frustrated by it. Hearing people talk about others without enough data. Almost like we’ve lost respect for people. We judge instead.