Your professional presence is something you project to others at work, with friends and in every environment where people evaluate you. It’s important to be aware of your self-concept and how it works for or against your goals and ambitions.
Have you ever noticed…
- How many times you apologize to others? Sometimes we think we are being considerate and polite, but we don’t realize how much it can influence our professional presence in a negative way.
- Times you are self-deprecating with remarks like: “I always lose things” (with a nervous laugh), or “I used to be good at that, but I’m so out of practice” (with a roll of your eyes), or “I can never remember others’ names – I’m really bad at that.” It can backfire by appearing to others as low confidence or low self-esteem.
Raising your self-esteem is an “inside job.” Here are two ways to improve your professional presence and raise your self-esteem:
1. Develop self-awareness: Cultivate a clear sense of yourself and your worth when you fully own your talents, skills and knowledge. Notice times when you apologize and how often you say deprecating things about yourself to others.
2. Shut down that annoying noisy voice inside you that says you’re not OK: We all experience that nagging self-talk that says, “you screwed up.” “You don’t deserve this attention.” “What makes you think you can do this?” And so forth. Notice that voice when it starts up, and tell it to “shut up.” Don’t even argue with it. Use positive and affirming self-talk. A hint from neuroscience is to talk to yourself in the third person. Say, using your own name, of course: “You can crush this, Andrea!” “Andrea, get prepared for this and you’ll be great.”
Now you are ready for the “outside job.” Make sure when you speak with others; you relate your knowledge and experience with pride. Don’t worry that you are being too confident or arrogant. Stay self-aware, but not self-absorbed. Act through the confidence that you are unique, smart, and capable. This engages others from a place of both humility and confidence, rather than from low self-esteem.