How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)

How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)

How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)


Today, we’re going to talk about how to build confidence at work and what to do if you’re feeling dumb or stupid, or you’re giving yourself some negative self-talk because maybe something didn’t work out OR you didn’t understand something the first time.

So, stay tuned.

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This is a fun topic and I’m really excited.

This topic came up because some of my clients have been feeling like they feel dumb.

I’ve had a client say to me, “I feel dumb at work because I don’t understand the first time someone explains something to me.”

What’s happening was, is she wasn’t asking the right questions, she wasn’t making an effort to understand because she was just telling herself that she felt dumb, and that was shutting everything down and she was just kinda hiding and not doing anything.

She’s like, “Ah I don’t want to admit that I didn’t understand, so I can’t really talk about it OR ask anything.”

I’m going to help you with that because I’m the exact opposite.

I used to not ask questions, which did not help me.

And now I ask all the stupid questions, and I don’t even care.

So, I’m going to help you get to that point, it’s kinda fun, really nobody really cares in the end.
How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)

Let’s get to it.


Say you get explained something once, and you don’t get it. Maybe the person is very fast.

Maybe they explain it super quickly and you’re like, “I don’t get it.”

Maybe you pause and you’re like, you pretend to get it, and you’re like, “Okay,” and then they leave and you’re like, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Then, the result is just that you don’t get it done, you hide, and you are probably going to get fired eventually, because if you’re not doing the work, then you’re probably going to prove your thought that you’re dumb ’cause you don’t get it.

What I want to offer to you is that you feel dumb or stupid is just a thought, okay?

You’re telling yourself, “I think I’m dumb ’cause I didn’t get that.”

But what I want to suggest to you is that I might need somebody to explain something five times to me, seven times to me.

A really smart person might need somebody to explain something more than one time, and that does not mean they’re dumb.

Even if you need something explained 100 times, what if you are just that somebody who needs something explained 100 times?

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You’re not dumb. You just need an explanation. Maybe they weren’t explaining it very clearly.


Maybe they’re just really good at what they’re doing and they’ve done it every day for years, and they just move through it too quickly.

Of course, you weren’t going to get it, right?

This happens a lot.

People become very familiar with their jobs, and then they just think you should get it really quickly, but if you’ve never done it before, of course, you’re not going to get it.

Give yourself some credit.

If you don’t understand it, just ask questions.

Now I know that sounds easy to do, but think of the alternative.

If you don’t ask questions, the pattern leads you to not doing the work, not getting the information you need, and then eventually, getting fired.
How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)

And it all starts because you think you’re dumb because you didn’t know the first time when they explained it.


I think we all think that someone should be able to explain something one time and then we should just get it, but the thing is, that’s not taking into consideration how somebody’s explaining it.

Maybe their instructions were not clear.

Maybe they’re not explaining it very well.

Maybe they’re moving through it at lightning speed because they’re so quick with it and they’ve done it so many times, that of course, you’re not going to be able to catch on.

Because it was too fast.

Further on, I’m going to show you some tricks to communicate with people so that you can get those questions answered and you can move forward with your work.

But keep in mind too that they want you to do the work for them.

They’re assigning it to you because they need the work done.

They want you to understand it.

It’s in their best interest for you to understand it.

You’re helping them if you tell them that you didn’t understand and that you need further clarification.

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Because if you don’t, then they’re going to come back and be like, “Why didn’t you do it?”


And then they’re going to be thinking that you’re dumb.

But only because you did first.

This is what I call thinking that you’re dumb ahead of time.

If you are thinking you’re dumb ahead of time, then the chances of them thinking you’re dumb to go way up.

If you’re like, “Oh my god, I didn’t get that, I must be dumb,” then, of course, they’re going to think that too.

But it’s only because you thought it first.

And then, of course, they’re going to start thinking it because you’re acting dumb and stupid ’cause you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t get it, I must be stupid,” right?

Do you see how that works? It’s kinda funny.

So if you simply were to say, “Yeah, I would really like it if you would go through that a bit slower, I need to take some notes. I’ve never done this before.”

OR, like this, “Thank you so much for your time. I can see you’re very proficient at this. I’m not quite there yet. Would you mind slowing down a bit and explaining that again?”
How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)

That’s one strategy you can use, just you know, be upfront about it.


Just say, “You know what, I didn’t quite get it. Can we please go through it again?”

Something that would happen to me in math class a lot was I would just pretend to get it.

They would go through it on the board, the teacher would go through it on the board and he would be like, “Does that make sense?”

And I’d be like, “Yep, yep, yep, yep.”

Totally did not make sense, but I didn’t want to be stupid in front of the class, so I would say, “Yep, yep, it makes sense.”

And then, of course, I failed the test.

In the end, it did not get me anywhere, you see?

And this is what’s happening when people don’t get something the first time, they’re afraid to say, “No, I actually didn’t get it,” because they think that means they’re dumb OR stupid.

But it doesn’t, it just means that either they didn’t explain it in a way that you understood OR you just need it explained more OR in a different way.

And that’s okay.

That doesn’t mean anything about you as a human. It just means that you didn’t get it.

I hope I’m getting this point across, ’cause it’s super close to my heart because I used to think I was dumb and stupid in math because I’m not good at math.

And that probably would still be the case.

Luckily, I do a job that doesn’t involve a lot of math.

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If you need something explained, one, two, seven, 100 times, it still doesn’t mean you’re dumb OR stupid.


It just means you need something explained more than one time.

And if you’re in a job where somebody doesn’t want to explain something more than one time, then maybe that’s not the job for you.

Maybe that’s not the coworker or the boss for you.

Maybe they don’t have the patience to work with somebody who needs something explained differently OR more than one time. That’s on them.

If they get frustrated with you because you didn’t understand, that is on them.

That is not your issue. You are responsible for yourself, and you’re responsible for making sure that you understand so that you can do your job and you can do the best job that you can, because that’s ultimately what you want.

You want to deliver results.

You want to be the best employee that you can.
How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)

And in order to be that, you need to understand what they’re actually asking of you.


I would offer you, instead of thinking, “I’m dumb or stupid for not understanding the first time,” think, “I am going to make sure that I understand exactly what’s required of me before I do anything, and that’s actually very smart.”

So, take that, you’re welcome.

I can tell you that I don’t understand a lot of things, and funny story, my teacher when I was in school would say to me, “You know, you have to learn to do these in your head, Natalie, ’cause you’re not always going to have a calculator with you.”

And the joke’s on my teachers because guess what?

I have an iPhone with me all the time, and it has a calculator on it.

Some people still believe you should be able to do arithmetic in your head.

I am not that person.

Does that mean I’m dumb?

I don’t think so.

I think I’m pretty smart.

Don’t think you’re dumb ahead of time, ’cause it really doesn’t help you, okay?

Just think of yourself as someone who needs to make sure you understand what’s asked of you.

And when you understand what’s asked of you, you will be able to do the job.

You want to do the best job you can, so you’re going to make sure that you understand what they need from you.

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The next thing I want to offer you is that we are all kind of smart sometimes, and we’re all kinda dumb sometimes.


Sometimes, a really smart person might make a really dumb mistake.

Let’s say you do a project for your boss OR you do an assignment, you go into his office, and then he says, “You know what, this needs to be changed right here, you didn’t read on blah blah blah, and this was wrong.”

So instead of thinking, “Oh my god, I’m dumb for not seeing that,” it’s fine. You just say, “Yeah, okay, I made a mistake, yeah, I’ll fix it, no worries, thanks for the feedback.

If you’re someone who’s thinking you’re dumb, you’re going to be like, “Oh my god, I’m so dumb for making that mistake.

But you are not dumb, you just made a dumb mistake and that’s fine, you can admit it.

You can be like, “Yeah, that was a dumb mistake. I’ll fix it.”

No big deal.

It’s all about how you think of yourself.

If I can teach you anything, it’s that I want to teach you we’re all kinda smart sometimes and we’re all kinda dumb sometimes.

I’m not super good at directions.

I’m not super good at math. I’m still smart. I still make a lot of money. I’m still pretty happy and I still run a successful business.

You don’t need to be good at everything.

What defines smart anyway? Is it book smart, is it you can pass a math test OR is it that you can communicate with people and you can get your dream job?

Like, what is smart?

What does it even mean?

I just want to let you know that you’re going to have your strengths and you’re going to have your weaknesses, and that doesn’t make you stupid OR dumb.
How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)

It just makes you who you are, and that’s fine.


So own it.

I own that I’m not super good at math.

I own that I’m not super good at directions.

I don’t think that makes me dumb.

And if someone else wants to say it does, I don’t have to actually believe them. I could be like, “Yeah, I don’t think it does.”

That’s what I want you to identify, that dumb is just a label, dumb is not going to serve you.

You’re not dumb because you didn’t understand something.

It’s really not a big deal.

Just ask all the dumb questions.

I don’t really care.

I’d rather ask the question and have someone say it was a stupid question than not ask it and then not have the information I need and then not be able to move forth to get the result that I need to get.

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Using flattery is something that has super worked for me when trying to get someone to explain something to me.


I worked with somebody who, for example, was very quick at their job.

It was second nature to them.

They knew exactly what to do because they’d been there for years.

I start and I don’t understand a thing, because they’re moving too quickly and they expect too much of me right off the bat.

Flattery is a great trick to use.

I would suggest to you that communication skills and learning how to ask for the information that you need instead of thinking that you’re dumb are going to be a lot more useful for you in your career.

This is what I did. I say things like this. “Hey, you look like you’re super good at this. I understand that you’re very proficient because you’ve been doing this for a long time. I just started. Would you mind slowing down for me a bit? I need to take some notes.”

OR even get your phone out and record what they’re saying.

I’ve done that before and then I go back and listen to it at my own speed.

Ask them permission and normally, they’re totally fine with it, ’cause it just means they don’t have to repeat it.

There are all these little tricks you can use to get them to slow down OR you can just record it and hopefully, that will get you more confident.

Because you’re like, “Okay, I don’t have to write down everything and absorb everything right now, ’cause you only have one human brain and it’s only capable of remembering like nine things at one time, so then you can go back and listen.”
How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)

Those tricks have been really helpful for me.


Well, because I know that if I’m trying to frantically write down everything somebody’s saying, I’m not really paying attention and it’s even more difficult for me to comprehend what they’re trying to ask me to do.

Flattery, tell them how great they are at their job, tell them how fast they’re going, tell them how you can see how they must be really, really proficient and good at this, and then ask them if you can record or take notes if you can’t record.

Hopefully, that helps.

Those are the tricks that I’ve used.

They’ve worked every time.

They don’t make me dumb.

They just make me somebody who really wants to do a good job and is very, very mindful of how I learn and what I might need in order to do that good job.

If you show them that you’re really willing to put in the work and you really want to understand and that’s how you learn best, they’re going to help you out with that.

That’s worked for me, I know that it will work for you too.
How To Build Confidence At Work (What To Do When You Feel Dumb OR Stupid At Work)

In conclusion


If you’d like some help to become a superstar performer, gain your next promotion, get a better job in 30 days, change your entire career, change your lifetime earning potential, I can help you with all of that.

If you’re struggling with low self-confidence, I can help you with that, click the button below.



If you want some more help from me, I want to invite you to a free workshop, it’s called Four Days To A Six-figure Job You Love.

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Do you know one person who could benefit from the information in this post? If so, do your friend a favor and share this info with him/her.


And remember, the current system isn’t perfect, but you can outsmart it. I’m here to prove to you that you do have what it takes.


I’ll see you next time and I can’t wait!


In Work & Life


I’ve got your back


– XO Natalie