Confidence is a lot like the lip balm in your tote bag: You know it’s somewhere inside, but sometimes it’s tough to find it. That’s especially true at work, where asserting yourself can lead to amazing opportunities… but first, you’ve got to actually speak up when you’ve got a great idea. We asked Newsette readers for their trickiest work questions about confidence…then asked the experts at Managed by Q how to give them the tools to shine.

I just got hired for a new job, which is a few steps above my previous position in terms of seniority, and I am feeling seriously out of my league. I know they wouldn’t have hired me if they didn’t believe I was capable, but I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing!

The good news is, the learning curve is real and exists for everyone. Your colleagues understand  you need time to ramp up, adjust, and begin to contribute. Depending on the nature of your work and your role, it could take someone six months or more. 

Many managers create 30, 60, and 90-day plans for new employees. If your manager does this, focus on hitting those milestones and completing those projects as a tangible progress towards getting up to speed. If your manager hasn’t done this, create goals for yourself! (This book is a helpful resource if you don’t know where to start.)  And try to approach your new position in terms of your strengths and areas of growth, rather than panicking when you don’t know something. 

If you’re still feeling unsettled, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues questions! Tap into the resources around you, don’t be afraid to see your colleagues as resources and allies (and ask them real questions!), and look for events that relate to your job. You’re in a great phase of growth, and it’s okay to admit–and embrace–what you don’t know! 

I’m in my first job,  and I’m the youngest in my office by ten years!The age difference makes me feel insecure and doubt my place here, and sometimes I can’t relate to their talking topics since I’m at a different place in life. How do I become part of my office culture?

Here’s the thing: age is a characteristic, but it’s not the defining quality among you and your co-workers. One advantage you have as a recent graduate is understanding a younger customer demographic. Depending on what your company does, your insight into how the business will need to adapt for a new generation could be invaluable. This is an opportunity to share your knowledge when it’s relevant. And remember, the people you work with were all new once If you find it difficult to make conversation or relate to them, ask about their careers. What did they study in college?  Where was their first job? What was the office culture like at those other companies? What helped them find their career trajectory? 

Convos like these open the door to advice, provide a better understanding of the people around you, and remind you that everyone has to start somewhere.

I work in a collaborative environment and want to share my ideas, but I’m naturally really shy. When others share ideas that are similar to the ones I had (but didn’t voice), I’m frustrated I didn’t speak up! I’m worried that my shyness is holding me back from growing and advancing in my company. 

Meetings are often dominated by the most senior person or the loudest voice in the room, so if you’re shy, they can be particularly debilitating. 

Start fighting those feelings with some light preparation. Write out brief talking points, questions, or reactions you have to the meeting agenda. (That lets you process some of your thoughts in advance.) Bring your  notes to the meeting so when it’s your turn to speak, you won’t have to think everything out on the fly. 

You can also set a personal goal of speaking once per meeting. This can be as minor as helping to troubleshoot a conference call issue or agreeing with someone else’s point. Over time, this will make you feel more comfortable speaking up!

If you’re finding that the meetings you’re in are unproductive and very difficult to interact in, you’re not alone. In fact, Managed by Q created an entire guide on how to run a more effective, communicative meeting that helps everyone find their voice.

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