I think a huge part of improving yourself as both a person and in the workplace is to be confident. Confidence, however, isn't easy. Trust me, I know. But I've also learned that a huge part of developing confidence is having the right mindset. Much like writing, in order to obtain the skill of writing you have to jump into it and in time the skill develops. The same goes for confidence.
A great example of this is an experience I had at my previous job. I walked into that job not knowing what to expect (it was my first job) and I had zero confidence in my skills. For months I was clueless and depended on the help of my coworkers - and I hated that. I've never liked receiving help and I've always been the type of person who likes to figure things out on my own. I'm a “one-man-band” you could say - though, you shouldn't, since it's not right to always only work alone.
There was one day I was working at the front desk and I was (as always) uncomfortable in my knowledge. I got a call from one of our clients and the conversation went something like this…
I answered the phone, “Burbank Music Academy”.
“Hello, my children are students there and we've been enrolled with lessons for quite a while now but at this point we are going to have to drop our lessons.”
“Okay, can I have your name please?”
She told me her name and I kept her on the phone as I struggled to figure out how to drop her kids from the schedule. I explained that I was new to the job and still unsure how to do it. Once I thought I had figured it out I apologized and told her it was taken care of.
The conversation ended there.
I went home from work that day feeling embarrassed but I genuinely believed I took care of the situation - just not ideally. The next week I decided that no matter how uncomfortable and embarrassed I was, I was going to walk in and fake my confidence if I have to.
One thing I realized is that if I were the client, someone in my position looks to me with authority simply because I'm the one behind the desk. They have no idea if I make a mistake, in fact, they don't need to know at all. I kept this information in mind even though I was still feeling otherwise.
The phone rang, I answered. It was the same lady from the week before. “Hello, I spoke to a young girl last week and I asked her to drop my kids from their lessons but she said she was new and she didn't sound like she knew what she was talking about. I received a reminder email for my kids’ lessons so I don't think she took care of it. I don't want to keep getting charged so could you please handle this?”
Inside, I was devastated. I was completely humiliated and my gut reaction would've been to just hang up and panic. Not only did I feel ashamed about my mistake, I felt terrible that I was unable to help this poor lady. But, instead of reacting this way I decided to speak with confidence and I remembered that she didn't need to know the details.
“Oh no! I'm so sorry for this inconvenience. You said that you wanted your kids dropped, correct? I'll go ahead and take care of that right away. We won't charge you for additional lessons if you weren't planning on attending them.”
The lady had absolutely no idea that it was me she talked to the week prior. Once I spoke with confidence her tone of voice brightened up and I could hear relief. She continued to ask me further questions and at the end of the conversation she said, “Thank you so much. You were extremely helpful to me, what is your name?”
That was one of my proudest moments at my first job. I took a while for me to become fully confident because it's a skill that required time to develop, but it was essential for me to learn that lesson.
Maybe “fake it until you make it” is the way to go.