6 Signs Your Coworkers See You as Insecure at Work

woman looking upset in a meeting

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 18, 2024 at 4:5PM UTC

Have you ever noticed how some of your colleagues seem to be naturally secure? These people exude confidence, as though nothing bothers them.

But many of us aren’t so lucky. Everyone has their insecurities—and, unfortunately, for some of us, those insecurities are on display at work. The good news? You can do something about it.

6 Signs that you come across as insecure at work.

1. You constantly second-guess your decisions.

You have trouble making up your mind. You constantly put off decisions, waiting until the very last minute to determine the best course of action. When you finally do come to closure—well, it’s not actually closure. You second guess yourself. Repeatedly.

2. You’re overly self-deprecating.

There’s no problem with a little self-deprecation from time to time. Making a joke at your own expense will help you come across as more approachable and humble, especially if you’re a manager.

But if you’re constantly putting yourself down, you may just cross the line from endearing to depressing. Nobody wants to be around someone who’s constantly engaging in negative self-talk (out load, no less), and you’ll quickly become known as an insecure Debbie Downer.

3. You’re a show-off.

On the flip side, if you’re attempting to project confidence by constantly touting your own accomplishments, this will have the same effect. People who are truly secure in their abilities don’t need to brag about them, so if you’re displaying a lack of humility in the workplace, you’ll come to be seen as an insecure braggart.

4. You’re always seeking approval.

Sure, there are many tasks that probably require approval. We’ve all dealt with layers of red tape. But if you’re constantly asking for approval for every little thing — to the point where you’re manager has told you to trust your gut — then it’s a sign that you need to stop doubting yourself.

5. You refuse to delegate or share responsibilities.

If you’re doing everything yourself (because you believe only YOU can), you’re showing that you’re a take-charge person, right? Wrong! Workers who refuse to delegate or share responsibilities with others, including direct reports and peers, may fear that they are replaceable—in fact, that’s a conclusion others around them will probably jump to.

6. You don’t speak up.

You worry that you’re opinion is the wrong one. Or you wonder if it’s your place to vocalize your ideas. These are natural anxieties, but if you let them get the better of you, to the point at which you’re not speaking up in meetings or sharing what are very likely excellent thoughts, then you’re selling yourself short and stunting your professional growth—as well as project insecurity.

How to project confidence at work.

There’s no switch you can flip to make yourself more confident. But these starting points will allow you to practice projecting confidence at work until you find yourself, at some point, actually feeling more secure in your skills.

Ask for feedback.

Asking for feedback along the way will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and determine how to best address them. You’ll have a real outside perspective on your performance, which will allow you to grow.

Ask questions.

Don’t understand something? Want to know more? Asking questions is a sign of curiosity and eagerness to learn. The reverse is letting yourself stay informed.

Identify your best qualities.

Own your best qualities! Acknowledging what you’re good at will allow you to better tap into your abilities. It helps to actually make a list. Perhaps you can make it a resolution to add one or two qualities to that list every day.

Fake it ‘til you make it.

It’s a well-known secret that people who project confidence aren’t necessarily the most confident ones in the room — they could just be trying to show that they’re secure. And you can do the same. While you won’t gain an enormous amount of confidence immediately, pretending to be more secure will enable you to grow, to the point where you may just find that your self-esteem has improved enormously.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for projecting confidence at work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

About the Career Expert:

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.

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