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By Melodie Veldhuizen

In any workplace there is ongoing competition and everybody tries to be the best and make the big time. This makes it difficult at times to maintain a positive self-image in the workplace, but it is possible to fill your unique position with self-confidence.

How can one maintain a positive self-image in the workplace?

  • Stop negative internal monologues

Internal monologues are that little voice in your head that comments on you and your life consciously and subconsciously. It is the result of your opinion of yourself, and also other people’s opinions, expectations and standards, and is often negative, unfortunately. Thoughts such as that you are lazy, incompetent or not intelligent enough run through your head all the time. Replace them with positive thoughts, for instance: “I can do it and I am good enough”.

  • Cut out perfectionism

Perfectionism is defined as high personal standards and exagerated critical self-evaluation. It can be counterproductive because you are so scared that you (according to your own standards) will not be able to finish a task that you don’t start on it in time, or you are so eager to do it perfectly that you spend more time on it than is allowed for the project. In both cases you do not finish in time, which causes problems for you and harms your self-image. Rather stick to the principle that your best is good enough.

  • Be proud of yourself

Be satisfied knowing that you can perform a task well and when you complete it, believe and and accept that you have finished it to the best of your ability and be proud of it. Don’t wait for others to praise or encourage you. Regularly reflect on your good qualities or something positive you have recently done, such as helping a colleague solve a problem, finishing a task in less than the expected time and doing it well, encouraging an upset colleague. Give yourself a tap on the shoulder. Write it down and read it the next time your self-confidence hits rock bottom.

  • Invest in your own competence

The more competent you are and the better your skills are in your work environment, the better you can perform, with positive results for your self-image. Improve your skills and knowledge through further study and courses, or even through self-study.

  • Do what is right

Always do what your heart and mind say is the right thing in spite of colleagues’ expected negative reactions. When, for instance, it looks as if figures are being doctored, point it out, or reach out to a colleague who is being ostracised by others. You will feel good about yourself and command the respect of people (even if not all of them).

  • Approach mistakes and failures in a positive way

All of us make mistakes now and then. Instead of moping about it when you have made a mistake and allowing it to hurt your self-image, lift your head, aplogise and carry on with your day’s work. Identify something positive in the situation. Have you learned anything from the situation, even if it is only to be more careful in future?

  • Be nice with colleagues and clients

Friedliness and thoughtfulness always bear fruit. Even when people are negative it will boost your self-image to know that you did not repay evil with evil. Do not allow other people’s negative behaviour to hurt your self-image.

  • Embark on something new

Learning something new (whether work-related or not) is good for one’s self-image. Therefore, when you feel you’re in a rut and bored with the tasks you have to perform every day, ask your manager if there isn’t something else you can do. Or help a colleague with her work – in that way you will also learn something new. Perhaps you can take a course that has nothing to do with your work but that may come in handy some day.

  • Do not compare yourself with your colleagues

Comparison with other people, whether in the work situation or in your personal life, can harm your self-image. There will always be somebody who has a higher position than yours, earns a bigger salary, or gets more compliments from the manager. Be satisfied with and proud of your unique self – with your appearance and with what you have already accomplished. Focus on yourself and if you feel that you have to change or improve, do it by seeing how you can improve yourself (and not by being like or better than others).

  • Spend time with positive people

It is difficult to maintain a positive self-image in the presence of people who constantly criticise you, are jealous of you, blowing their own trumpet. Look for the company of colleagues who give you recognition for what you are, inspire, motivate and compliment you for what you have accomplished and who maintain the same standards as you.



Chiswick Consulting. http://www.chiswickconsulting.com/how-important-is-self-esteem-in-the-workplace/

Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2020/07/24/ways-to-boost-your-self-confidence-at-work/#11d40645431c

Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/siimonreynolds/2014/07/20/the-strong-link-between-your-self-image-and-business-success/#5a687ef66226

Northcentral University. https://www.ncu.edu/blog/how-does-self-image-impact-employee-performance

The Positivity Blog. https://www.positivityblog.com/improve-self-esteem

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