Know Your Worth: 3 Ways to Build Up Your Self-Confidence at Work

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Do you see someone who’s accomplished a lot? Who wakes up and walks bravely back into the working world no matter what challenges lie ahead?

Or do you see someone who’s not quite measuring up, who’s drowning under the weight of self-doubt?

The fact is that you’re looking at exactly the same person—you. You’re the someone who has achieved a helluva lot. But you may also be the somone struggles with knowing your worth and how to value yourself fully, especially in work settings.

So what does it mean to know your worth?

Knowing your worth is all about understanding what you bring to the table. It’s about what makes you shine—what makes you uniquely you. It’s also about being proud of what you do and not downgrading yourself for something or someone else.

In a professional setting, knowing your worth is a combination of taking what makes you special (your skills, expertise, interests, personality, and even your mistakes) and pairing it with industry, salary, and job knowledge.

If you’re unsure of where to begin with all this knowing your worth business, don’t worry. It takes a mixture of self-reflection, self-learning, and practice, practice, practice. 

So let’s get you started today—read on to discover how to understand your professional worth more fully and build up your self-confidence in the process.

Explore Where You Stand in Your Industry

As a professional, your need to figure out how you measure up in your chosen industry. This knowledge is critical as it will help you in future negotiations (salary, raise, promotion, or otherwise) and in knowing your worth.

When you look at your industry, you can’t only look at the money. Salary is just one way our jobs are categorized; there is so, so much more that makes up your work.

Instead of focusing on the dollar signs, start by looking at yourself. Make a list of what skills, experiences, and expertise you bring to the table. Describe the ways in which you’ve taken up leadership roles, no matter how small. (Remember: you never need permission to lead.)

Then, take stock of what skills, experiences, and expertise are common across your organization and in your industry more broadly. Look at what types of things come standard with your current role and what skills/experiences/expertise begin popping up in roles above yours. Search the internet to gather this data, ask your fellow colleagues for input, or chat with your boss to get their perspective.

Once you’ve got a sense of where you are professionally and what’s happening in your organization and your industry, you’ll be able to benchmark yourself against others. This isn’t about comparing yourself to others though; it’s about seeing where your strengths are relative to what’s going on around you and where you may need to fill in gaps to keep on growing.

When you engage in self-reflection and pair it with some outside research, you’ll have a better sense of what you’re bringing to the table (i.e. what makes up your self-worth) and have a better chance at advocating for what you want come negotiation time. A win-win.

Speaking of negotiations, you need to know yourself well in order to know your worth and negotiate confidently. This means knowing where you stand in your industry and in your organization, but it also means understanding yourself fully—strengths, weaknesses, mistakes, values, dreams, ambitions, and all.

When you know yourself better, you put yourself in a stronger negotiating position as you know where your hard lines are and where you can be more flexible. 

For example, if you dream of being a graphic designer who gets to create beautiful, branded documents day-in and day-out, then you may want to see how you can negotiate spending more time in this creative space while preparing to give something else up, such as a managerial-level job that might pay more but would drain your imaginative energy.

Part of what makes you, you also includes what triggers your self-doubt, perfectionism, or procrastination—all things that get in the way of your confidence.

There is no fool-proof way to get rid of self-doubt, perfectionism, or procrastination, but being aware of your unique triggers can place you in a more powerful negotiating position. 

When you feel that self-doubt, perfectionism, or procrastination creep up, you can stop for a second, recognize what’s happening, and then proceed from a more informed state-of-mind. Whatever brings down your confidence is not a strong match for a rational, present, and mindful individual

So the next time you see a negotiation on your horizon, be sure to pair your benchmarking homework with a heightened self-awareness. This will not only help you know what you really want out of a job, but also how you can push yourself into a more confident state through the simple act of acknowledging and normalizing your self-doubt triggers.

Prepare to Negotiate Confidently

Speaking of negotiations, you need to know yourself well in order to know your worth and negotiate confidently. This means knowing where you stand in your industry and in your organization, but it also means understanding yourself fully—strengths, weaknesses, mistakes, values, dreams, ambitions, and all.  

When you know yourself better, you put yourself in a stronger negotiating position as you know where your hard lines are and where you can be more flexible. 

For example, if you dream of being a graphic designer who gets to create beautiful, branded documents day-in and day-out, then you may want to see how you can negotiate spending more time in this creative space while preparing to give something else up, such as a managerial-level job that might pay more but would drain your imaginative energy.

Part of what makes you, you also includes what triggers your self-doubt, perfectionism, or procrastination—all things that get in the way of your confidence.

There is no fool-proof way to get rid of self-doubt, perfectionism, or procrastination, but being aware of your unique triggers can place you in a more powerful negotiating position. 

When you feel that self-doubt, perfectionism, or procrastination creep up, you can stop for a second, recognize what’s happening, and then proceed from a more informed state-of-mind. Whatever brings down your confidence is not a strong match for a rational, present, and mindful individual

So the next time you see a negotiation on your horizon, be sure to pair your benchmarking homework with a heightened self-awareness. This will not only help you know what you really want out of a job, but also how you can push yourself into a more confident state through the simple act of acknowledging and normalizing your self-doubt triggers.

Stop the Constant Apologizing 

In addition to preparing yourself to negotiate confidently and exploring where you stand in your industry, you also need to believe in the things you do if you really want to know and own your worth. Yet one of the key ways you give away your lack of self-belief is when you apologize.

Now, don’t get me wrong—you should 100% apologize when you’re in the wrong. As Karen Hardwick says an apology can be a “sign of strength, confidence and emotional intelligence — all attributes of leaders who know the value of connection and mindful self-awareness.”

What you need to stop doing, however, is apologizing for things that you have absolutely no control over (such as saying “sorry” when someone else bumps into you at work) or apologizing whenever you have something to contribute (such as prefacing your opinion in a meeting with “I’m sorry, but I just wanted to share my idea…”).

Being the resident apologizer doesn’t get you any points and certainly doesn’t help you step into your full worth. You are not automatically at fault simply by stating your opinion or by existing. 

Knowing your worth includes being confident in whatever you do. Just like with your self-doubt triggers, you’ll need to become conscious of when and how often you apologize in order to correct your behavior and gain more confidence. 

When you feel the need to say “I’m sorry” take a second to evaluate the situation with this simple question: “Is it really my fault?”

If the answer is “no” then proceed confidently with whatever you’re doing without an “I’m sorry”, and save your apologies for when they’ll really matter.

Embrace YOU

Knowing your worth is way more than the monetary value you bring to a job. It’s about understanding yourself, including the skills, experiences, expertise, dreams, goals, values, and actions that you offer the world. 

Embrace who you are and you’ll be well on your way to owning your worth in no time.

Onward,

JMB

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I enjoy doing a lot of things, but at the top of that list is inspiring people to take action and harness their inner CONFIDENCE!! I love assisting people with discovering and reaching their full potential and I do so through the fields of etiquette and leadership. Now, I wouldn't dare say that I’m a traditional etiquette and leadership consultant. This may be a little confusing because what could possibly exude more of a traditional feeling than being a good leader and practicing good etiquette?

But my perspective and approach to leadership is more nuanced and modern. I believe that leadership shouldn’t only coalesce among our C-suite executives. Leadership can be a vast and inclusive concept, and everyone has leadership potential in their own unique way in both professional and social settings (my book, Leader by Mistake, talks all about this). I take great pride in curating and delivering classes and content that inspire people to lead wherever they are and with the tools that that they have so that they can advance to their next level.

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