A Hollywood Producer Dishes On How To Be Confident At Work

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1Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
We've all heard the often-repeated fact that women apologize far more than men, especially when something isn't their fault. But, if you ask me — and I work predominantly with men — women need to stop apologizing unnecessarily and, at the same time, acknowledge that confidence can include wearing some of our emotions on our sleeves. Sure, our insecurities can make us appear weak. But, no matter you're in an all-male work environment or not, I always say that's it's best to fake it until you feel so sure of yourself that others start to feel the same way. That's how the saying goes, right?

Ahead, I've outlined 10 ways that you can feel more confident and assertive on the job — even if you only sort of know what you're doing.

Be Engaging
First, look your coworkers in the eyes and put your phone away. There is nothing worse than feeling like you're getting 50% of someone's attention. And, if you actually engage in conversation during meetings rather than scrolling through Twitter, you might come up with a killer idea.

Be Bold
Asking for help doesn't mean you're weak, and faking it when you're totally lost is never a good idea. Luckily, I've always had respect for someone when they were able to admit they didn't know the answer, so long as they did their due diligence. It's a huge sign of confidence, and you can't possibly know everything. I knew nothing about camera cars when I started directing driving shots on Veep; I asked the crew so many questions, and with each answer, I became more confident as a director. Your colleagues would always rather you ask questions than do something incorrectly multiple times.

Be Humorous
Nothing beats laughter when you're trying to break down walls. There's comedy in even the darkest of times, and through laughter, we connect with one another.

Be Heard, But Remember To Listen
Speak up — and that doesn't mean start yelling. Being loud does not mean you're confident; it just means you're loud. But, because both men and women have a tendency to talk over each other and interrupt, it's important to stop, listen, and wait for the to the person to finish what they're saying. Never, under any circumstances, let people talk over you — no matter their gender. If someone repeatedly interrupts you, just finish your thought while speaking at the same volume. They'll look like the real jerk if they continue to yell over you.
2Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Be Polite
Say please and thank you, but never apologize unless you've done something wrong or made a mistake. Own it and move on. Real confidence is admitting the mistake and making sure it doesn't happen again, and kindness still goes a long way.

Be A Student
Do your homework and take notes. If I have a meeting, I make sure to read up on the people attending if I don't already work closely with them. Sometimes, I find out we have mutual friends, or perhaps they did a project I love. Other times, I find out that we worked together before and it didn't end well. That's always tricky to navigate, but at least I wasn't blindsided by it.

Be Straightforward
Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Ask for what you want. Don't waste time wondering why someone didn't get the hint; instead, just tell the person. In my experience, most people want to help others. They just need to be asked something specific, and within reason. If they don't reply honestly and kindly (hello, tip number five!) then don't waste time on them.
3Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Be Thankful For The Job
If you ask me, ego is a bad word, and conceit doesn't equal confident. I'm thankful every day that I'm working. And, even if you're not about to thank your boss, be grateful for the opportunity.

Be Supportive Of Your Coworkers
Confidence does not mean you have to be competitive. As you try to get ahead and be noticed at work, remember those people around you are attempting to do the same thing, Still, that doesn't mean you can't support each other: Stay away from gossiping and trash talking your co-workers, since it'll only reflect poorly on you.

Be Optimistic
Let's face it: No one wants to be around the complainer, or the person whose glass is always half empty. If you're always bitching about your job (and your life), eventually you'll be eating alone at the lunch table. Then you definitely won't be feeling confident.

One last tip for the ladies who work with a lot of guys: Be yourself. Don't try to be one of the guys. You're not a guy. You are you. You are human, with all your quirks, whether in high heels or sneakers. Makeup or au natural, you have the ability to do this job like no one else. To truly feel confident, you must be comfortable being yourself.

NEXT: How To Be A Total Boss At, Well, Being A Boss

We're pretty sure Stephanie Laing is our spirit animal. The five-time Emmy-nominated TV producer of Veep, Eastbound & Down, and Banshee may only let herself feel fabulous for five minutes a day, but she spends her nights (once the kids are asleep, of course) curating her own blog, Put Your Pretty On.