How to Improve Self-Esteem

April 15, 2019

A woman with low self-esteem
Stephanie Dwilson

It's important to know how to improve self-esteem. The effects of low self-esteem can range from not raising your hand in a meeting, to not having the confidence to make an important executive decision based on your own experience. In an office setting, confidence is the key to positive growth. Lack of self-esteem can hurt your career. If you find that you're doubting yourself more often than not, what can you do? Here's a guide to the effects of low self-esteem and a few easy steps you can take today to start improving your self-confidence.

The Effects of Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can manifest itself in many forms. You might find yourself staying quiet in a group and doubting your decisions, even if you're the right one to make a specific call or you're the expert on a subject matter. You might not raise your hand in a meeting or you might feel hesitant about making important decisions that affect people in your team or your company. Unfortunately, lack of self-confidence is common at work. In fact, about half of employees regularly don't speak their mind at work, SHRM shares.

Low self-esteem can hurt you in the long run. You might be less likely to take calculated risks or set big goals that can lead to career advancement, NBC News shares. You may subconsciously sabotage your own chances at getting a raise or promotion. That means you won't make investments because you don't trust your judgment or you'll interact less with your managers and thus get fewer promotions and pay raises.

How to Improve Self-Esteem

The first step to overcoming low self-esteem is simply becoming mindful of your negative self-talk, Psychology Today recommends. Don't believe everything you think, and realize that your self-critical thinking might not be accurate. Next, try affirmations when you fall into negative self-thinking. Write down positive statements about yourself when you're feeling doubt. And don't fall victim to comparing yourself to others, which can hurt your self-esteem. People tend to only show their best side on social media and that's often quite inaccurate.

Exercising can also improve your mental health and help you feel more empowered and positive. In addition, think about a time when you did feel self-confident and try to recapture that moment. If you felt confident while doing a certain hobby, try to take time to begin practicing that hobby again, for example.

Remember: If anxiety or depression are affecting your self-confidence, therapy and self-help books can help. Many therapists recommend Feeling Good, a book with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. There's no shame in seeing a therapist or a doctor if you'd like to get some professional advice. Low self-esteem is sometimes the result of undiagnosed depression or anxiety.

How Companies Can Help

Companies can play a role in fostering self-confidence by creating a culture where open communication is rewarded and not penalized, SHRM notes. That means building a foundation where leaders communicate transparently and don't just mimic the company line. They should frequently interact with their employees and encourage honesty. If you're a leader, make sure employees feel safe about sharing their honest feedback, and be supportive of new ideas. Take concrete action on some suggestions, so employees know that their ideas are considered seriously.

Low self-esteem can hurt an employee's chances at career advancement. It's important to address self-esteem issues both on an individual level and through assessing the overall work environment.

Sign Up to Receive Our Newsletter & Get the Best Ergonomic Tips