Competition in modern business is fierce. The strong survive and in many circumstances strong means confident. Confident enough to speak up when you have an opinion, confident enough to walk away from situations that don’t match your integrity, confident enough to walk into a room full of strangers…the potential scenarios are endless. Many professionals who are capable, well-spoken, credentialed, and sufficiently intelligent don’t meet their full potential just because they lack the confidence to perform in certain settings or to do and say the things that stronger, more confident people do.

Confidence in business is all about knowing what the right thing to do is, at the right time. This knowledge is portrayed through many qualities; image, body language, attitude, and behaviour. Canada’s Etiquette Experts suggest that there are ten things you can do to increase your confidence at work, they are:

  1. Remember the Business Priority

Focusing on the “business priority” means that you understand that in any situation involving business: business meeting, business call, conversation with a business associate, business golf tournament, business award dinner, business wine and cheese, etc, business always comes first- take the attitude that even though you may be in a social environment, or doing social activities, business is still the priority. This means you consider business, your reputation, the company policies, and your business goals when making decisions about what to wear, whether to have 2 drinks or 4, whether to bring your buddy along to an event, whether to engage in conversations about personal topics etc.

  1. Adopt a Four E’s Philosophy

The Four’E’s Philosophy (by The Civility Group Inc.) is that everyone, in every situation, every time, gets exactly the same respect and consideration. For example, we don’t make decisions about who is treated respectfully or courteously on the basis of gender, generation, rank, the day of the week, etc.

  1. Ensure a Positive First Impression

First impressions carry a lot of weight so why not work hard to control those things you can and ensure a good impression? Dress appropriately, practice your posture, bring business cards, engage in business-oriented conversation, extend a firm handshake etc.

  1. Accentuate the Positive-Play up on your strengths

Everyone is good at something, find what you are good at and use it to your advantage. Certainly you should work at improving the things you are not good at, but don’t talk about them, and don’t dwell on them. If you are not confident in your appearance, do the best you can but then really play up on your superior communication skills and/or your consistent positive attitude.

  1. Master Nonverbal Communication

Be deliberate about standing up straight, control your expressions and gestures, shake hands, make eye contact, and do all of those things consistently.

  1. Avoid Words that Undermine Credibility and Confidence

Think before you speak. Try to talk less and choose positive words.

  1. Learn to say “No” Politely

There is no law that says you must say yes or no within 20 seconds of receiving a request, however, if you say “no” it is best not to just say “NO” soften the blow by adding “thank you” or put “I appreciate the offer..” in front of the word no. In addition, most people expect a short explanation, particularly if you are declining a gesture or personal nicely that stemmed from kindness.

  1. Increase your Social IQ

One of the main reasons people behave inappropriately is because they are unsure what behavior is expected of them. Brush up on your social IQ. If you are going to a formal dinner and are nervous about what fork to use, take ten minutes and snoop around online, read a book, or ask for help.

  1. Set a high personal standard and maintain it.

A common problem with interpersonal relationships generally, but especially at work where rank is sometimes an issue, is that people who are making the rules sometimes don’t bother to follow the rules. If leaders/managers want those who look to them for leadership to respect them, those same leaders/managers need to set high personal standards and work hard to maintain them. Expect as much of yourself (or more) than you expect of others. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a double-standard will build credibility.

  1. Be Polite to Yourself.

If you want other people to treat you well, you have to show them that you respect yourself and treat yourself well. Pay attention to how you look, how you feel, what boundaries you set for yourself, etc. If you can control your image, your reactions, your time (to an extent anyway) you will feel more confident and other people will notice.