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5 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Confidence at Work

5 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Confidence at Work
Credit: g-stockstudio/Shutterstock

Feeling confident is like an investment: Once you believe in what you're doing, others will too, and they'll trust that the decisions you're making are the right ones.

For some people, though, that's easier said than done. But aside from believing in your skills and abilities, there are other ways to boost your confidence. Here are five simple ways to be more confident at work.

It's easy to underestimate the effect of clothing; you shower and get dressed every day, but you may not realize that your wardrobe could be influencing your confidence and mind-set.

One study found that wearing formal attire changes people's thought processes. "Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world," Abraham Rutchick, one of the authors of the study and a professor of psychology at California State University, Northridge, told The Atlantic. The findings suggest that wearing a suit may affect cognitive processes that encourage "abstract processing more readily than concrete processing," the authors said.

In short, dress to impress: Revamp and rework outfits you already have, purchase the better-quality dress or suit, and make sure you feel like the best version of yourself in your new threads.

Criticism can be tough if you focus on the negatives and get caught up in your missteps rather than focusing on your accomplishments over your entire career. In addition, people who become most defensive are more likely to have lower self-esteem, Casey Mulqueen, director of research and product development at TRACOM Group workplace performance consultants, told USA Today.

However, the reverse can also be true, as correlation doesn't equate to causation, Mulqueen added. "Does the criticism cause low self-esteem, or are people with low self-esteem more likely to be criticized? Both can be true," she said.

So, what can you do to remain positive? Filter criticism and remind yourself that it can help you improve your skills, work and relationships over time, Nicole Lindsay, career development expert, wrote in an article on The Muse. Thank the person for their feedback and seek solutions to address it, Lindsay added. [See Related Story: Simple Scientific Ways to Be More Productive]

Figuring out if your co-workers like you can be stressful and bring about insecurities and, in turn, lower confidence.

To avoid possible awkwardness, bring up light, interesting subjects and get a conversation going. This can be beneficial for productivity and stress release, Austin Paley, corporate marketing communications manager at web design agency Blue Fountain Media,told Business News Daily.

Even just getting to know the people on your immediate team can improve your mood and assist in efficient goal achievement, he said.

Paley suggested leading the team you're working with through team-building exercises when you have downtime, whether it is playing a cooperative game, going out for food or just doing something you all love.

You already know that music can affect your mood, but did you know that certain kinds of music can influence your self-esteem? A study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University found that different types of songs can affect your confidence.

In the study, researchers played different songs for people and then had them rank to what degree each song made them feel powerful, dominant and determined. Then, they split these songs into two playlists: one "high-power" (the three highest-ranked songs) and one "low-power" (three songs that were similar in style, but ranked lower). The researchers played one playlist for one group of people and the other for another group, while participants completed different tasks. Those listening to the high-power playlist completed the tasks more successfully, and were more likely to volunteer to go first in a debate, compared with those listening to the low-power playlist.

The songs found to be the most empowering were "We Will Rock You," by Queen, "Get Ready for This" by 2 Unlimited, and "In Da Club" by 50 Cent. The researchers attributed this to the songs' heavier bass levels. The next time you're getting ready for a job interview or a big presentation, just queue up Spotify.

Your posture is important for more than just your physical health; it can also affect your confidence, research shows.

According to a study from The Ohio State University, sitting up straight can give you more confidence in your own thoughts.

Researchers observed a group of 71 college students, asking them to complete different tasks while being directed to either sit up straight or sit slouched forward. While in their instructed poses, the students were asked to list either three positive or three negative personal traits of theirs, and to take a survey in which they rated themselves on how well they would do as a future employee. Researchers reported that students who sat upright were more likely to rate themselves higher for positive traits and lower for negative traits, compared with students who were slouching.

"People assume their confidence is coming from their own thoughts; they don't realize their posture is affecting how much they believe in what they're thinking," said Richard Petty, a psychology professor at Ohio State University and co-author of the study.

Everyone experiences periods of insecurity and anxiety, but allowing it to run your life will only hurt you in the workplace. Be confident in who you are and your ability to accomplish goals. 

Additional reporting by Brittney Helmrich.

Shannon Gausepohl

Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field. Shannon is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.