How to be more confident in business

Is your humility holding you back? Irish people tend to be too humble when it comes to ‘talking themselves up’. Here’s how to be a little more confident, and why you should be.

A study by LinkedIn once revealed that Irish people have a natural reluctance when it comes to talking to others about their achievements, and this characteristic could be holding them back in the workplace. 

The study found that 50% of Irish workers aren’t confident that they can adequately convey their professional accomplishments to prospective employers, with 55% of those asked admitting to feeling a fear of ‘bragging’. 

The figures are striking because while 63% of Irish workers agreed that it’s important to let senior management know about successes to secure a promotion or a raise, a significant amount of these same workers are apparently unwilling or unable to do so. 

Your online brand – be careful

One area where the Irish workforce may be letting itself down, in particular, is how they portray themselves online. 

While 42% of recruiters surveyed said they make a decision on a candidate based on their online presence alone, 64% of the Irish workers claim they don’t consider their online persona at all before starting a new role. 

how to be more confident

People in Ireland also have a real issue talking about work-related ambitions and achievements; the survey found that Irish workers are more comfortable talking about politics than promotions at work, and would prefer to share what they had for lunch online rather than tell people about a new job. 

While the survey was focused on the Irish workforce specifically, if these characteristics are indeed a national trait, they could apply to Irish SME owners too. In the world of business, it’s crucial that a business owner and his or her team can effectively convey their firm’s strengths to everyone from customers to investors. Too much humility will hold a great company back. 

Four ways to be more confident in business without appearing to ‘brag’.  


1.    Be team-centred and inclusive 

Research has shown that people respond better to inclusive language like “we” and “team” than they do to words like “me” or “I”. Sharing credit with your staff for an accomplishment, where appropriate, lessens the chances of you sounding overly self-involved or cocky. 

how to be more confident

2.    Don’t humblebrag

Using humour or self-deprecation is an excellent way to soften the edges of a boast, but a blatant “humblebrag” can be highly off-putting to the listener. A humblebrag is when someone disguises a boast as a complaint, for example, “I thought I’d have this weekend to chill, but the business is so busy I’ll probably have to work #sigh”. 

3.    Be selective and brief

Don’t cram in mentions of accomplishments where they are not relevant. Boasts are most effective where they are concise and relate directly to the matter at hand; if you’re selling yourself as a carpenter, mentioning your excellent skills as an electrician could confuse the issue. Have a few ‘elevator pitches’ ready, where you can highlight your strongest attributes clearly in just a few lines. 

4.    Choose language carefully 

The words you use when framing your achievements often dictate how the listener perceives you. A statement like ‘I am the best engineer in Ireland right now’ may well be true, but runs the risk of sounding exaggerated and maybe even a little bit crass. Be thoughtful in your use of superlatives when describing yourself or your business. 

READ: 12 great business leaders on the challenges they face and how to overcome fear. 

Article by Peter Flanagan. Images from Shutterstock.