Even more than career setbacks, the times I’ve found myself most dispirited is when I’ve encountered the quiet corrosiveness of that feeling that the people around me don’t believe in me. Lack of belief feels worse than conflict or an insult. There isn’t a quick, visceral way to respond. When you are emotionally punched, you can punch back. When others don’t have confidence in you, there isn’t an easy comeback.
I don’t think I’m alone. Women and minorities face this situation again and again in the workplace. And our identities leaves us with a truly horrible set of alternatives: is it us or is it our gender, our race, our orientation, or whatever.
But there is good news. No matter who you are there are lots of things you can do to make sure that a lack of confidence from others doesn’t affect your own self-confidence. I’ve learned a number of life hacks that have helped me.
1. Surround yourself: To persevere when others lack faith in you, the essential step is to change the people who surround you. To change the plot and change the mood, you may need to change the cast of the play. Make sure you surround yourself with your people – not just people who love you, but also people who believe in your talents and your future. Love isn’t enough. We all have relatives who are full of love, but also quick to feel sorry for you or, even worse, bring you down. Everyone needs a team behind them that overflows with love and respect.
2. Turn the switch: you can also use the disrespect of others as a crucial fuel for motivation. “I’ll show them” can be your mantra. It doesn’t have to be tinged with bitterness. After all the best revenge is a life well lived.
3. Quick wins: When I’ve struggled with my business, I’ve learned to break enormous problems into chunks. I then tackle some of the easier chunks first. Getting some quick wins builds confidence and momentum. Understanding your own psychology is key.
4. Find the feedback: Part of this understanding is a deep self-awareness that can help you differentiate between destructive and constructive criticism. If you can stay centered and focus on the problems, not the people, you can find some nuggets of feedback even in criticism that is delivered in aggressive or hurtful ways.
5. Presence: Dealing with criticism or any of the ups and downs of work life becomes a lot smoother when you stay present. I work best when I am focused not on the past or the future, but on the moment. I’ve found the tools I use to stay present reward me in my personal and professional life. Staying present also has the collateral benefit of giving me more of a presence. When you respect yourself by respecting your present moment, others will give you more respect.
Andrea Guendelman is the CEO and Co-Founder of BeVisible Latinx a career social media career network that connects Latinos and Latinas across the country with companies searching for new talent. Follow Andrea on Twitter@FutureofWomen