When asked whether they struggle with confidence in their current roles, over half of women asked said they do. Less than a third of men said the same.

This confidence gap goes further than how women and men feel about their ability to do their jobs.

Men negotiate salary four times as often as women and ask for thirty per cent more. Women are not banging on the door as often as men, and when they do, they are selling themselves short.

Theresa Colligan, Coach & NLP Master Practitioner, author and ex-Managing Partner at Zenith Media, calls this the gender confidence gap and she is convinced it can change.

Joining us at Ogilvy UK for a talk hosted by Women@Ogilvy on this very subject, Theresa talked us through the barriers to confidence, how to build confidence and useful techniques to encourage confidence to grow.

There are a number of things that can cause us to feel less confident. Theresa identified the three main things which affect confidence: our thinking, fear of failure, and perfectionism. These three barriers are so important as they result in inaction, which causes women to not put their hands up, not go for a promotion, and not push themselves forward.

As women, and for anyone struggling with confidence regardless of gender, the importance of coming out of your comfort zones cannot be stressed enough. Once we break out of our comfort zones, our horizons become bigger and our confidence naturally grows as a result.

Theresa shared her tips for becoming more confident in business.

7 Tips to Build Confidence in Business


It’s our thinking that is one of the biggest barriers to confidence. So looking at things from a different perspective can really help.

Focus on the positive

Strength based focus is really important for building confidence. Focusing on the negative is not good for us, our teams or our business. Rather than focusing on things that went wrong, at the end of a day Theresa suggests asking instead “how did I add value?”

Own your strengths

Know where you shine and acknowledge this – it will give you confidence

Countering limiting beliefs

Unhelpful beliefs and thoughts we hold about ourselves will hold us back. Theresa suggests taking one of these thoughts, finding counter evidence and finding a new truth within that evidence. For example, if you’re about to enter a meeting and are thinking “I’m going to come across really badly”, the truthful thought in this would be to think “I can only be me and hope that that’s enough”.

Managing your inner chimp

Don’t let your internal critic manage your life or take control.

Act as if

There’s a lot to be said for faking it until you make it. Theresa highlighted that the mind and body are one system. If we act confidently we will begin to feel more confident. Actions that can trigger confidence include smiling, listening to powerful music, rehearsing and wearing those killer heals or that sharp suit.

Circle of confidence

Ascribe confident qualities to an imaginary circle and then step into it. Once you there, experience that confidence. Use physicality to engage qualities of confidence.

Read more of Theresa's thoughts on business confidence here.