How high is your self-esteem?

How much do you value yourself? Do you rate yourself highly and believe you can cope with life and all it throws at you, taking pride in your achievements and learning from failure and criticism? Or do you prefer to stay in your comfort zone, keeping your head down? However you view yourself, why not make sure your self-esteem has very solid foundations and build it up to great heights?

By – Sally Longson

Our level of self-esteem can have a great effect on our lives
Look at the difference between Angela and Melissa.

A. Angela constantly worries about her ability to handle people and situations, and never really believes people when they tell her she’s done a good job, thinking, “They’re just being nice”. She is fearful of asking to leave the office early to attend something which is important to her; she offers work she’s done to her boss with a ready apology, always assuming it isn’t good enough; and she worries she will upset people if she disagrees with them.

B. Melissa has high self-esteem. She doesn’t rely heavily on the opinions of others, because she knows in her head and heart when she’s done a good job. She is good natured, easy-going and positive. She is confident in asking her boss if she can leave the office early on days when she needs to. She copes well with criticism and looks to learn from it, rather than seeing it as an attack on her personally.

Imagine how different Angela’s life would be if she had Melissa’s level of self-esteem…

A frequent complaint of PAs is that you don’t get the respect you deserve at work. This can be denting to self-esteem in itself, especially in these days when time seems too pressurised to allow for common courtesies. What would your life would be like – and your day at work – if you could boost your own self-esteem higher and be self-reliant on knowing whether you’ve done a good job or not?

Can you make a conscious decision to boost your self-esteem?

The good news is that yes, you can.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude of life.”
- William James

And here's how to boost your self-esteem, your own opinion of yourself:

Self-awareness is an important first step, but so is a commitment to make the change and the will to do something about the way in which you regard yourself.

"Change your thoughts and you change your world."
- Dr Norman Vincent Peale

Consider how you talk to yourself. If you make a mistake, do you berate yourself for hours after? If you do, then it’s time to stop wasting negative energy and time on such an activity! If you’ve made a mistake, learn from it and move on. If you tell yourself something over and over again, you’re going to believe it. It will become a habit. Make a habit of being a friend to yourself and talking up your positive qualities as often as you can. In other words, re-programme your thoughts and beliefs.

PAs are often taken for granted. So what can we do to boost our self esteem in such a position?

Writer, coach and trainer John Caunt ( is the author of a book called Boost your Self-Esteem. He advises: “in a situation where you are liable sometimes to be taken for granted, it’s a case of working on the things you can control, because the alternative is to be needy for praise, and then you become even more reliant on the few crumbs which come your way. Work on your assertiveness, so that you aren’t being taken for granted.

“A valuable point is to look at the interpretation you put on events, and to be sure you aren’t distorting or exaggerating them,” John continues. “It isn’t so much the event, as your interpretation of it, that gets out of proportion. This is particularly the case where a manager is under tremendous pressure and behaves in a way he normally wouldn’t, because of the stress he is under.”

It is vital to build up a strong sense of self-reliance. Acknowledge your own qualities; give yourself credit when you’ve done a good job. “It’s important to have your own criteria for having done a good job, and not being more reliant on others telling you,” John stresses. “Yes, of course it’s nice to feel valued, but there are circumstances – especially for PAs – where those plaudits are not necessarily appearing. You have to build up your own view as to what you regard as the important things which constitute a job well done.”

If you manage people with low self-esteem, what can you do to help them?

“It is important to be the boss you would like to have yourself,” John advises. “Don’t encourage a climate of fear and uncertainty. Encourage your colleagues and staff to be self reliant, and trust them. One of the mistakes of nice managers make is that they are overprotective for the people they manage.”

It’s also important to catch people doing things right and tell them what evidence you have of them doing something well, for example: “I heard you talk to that difficult customer on the phone and I think you handled him really well because……..” From that evidence, you can identify a particular strength they have: “You’re really good at handling difficult people.” Feedback of any nature, positive or negative, needs to be very specific and immediate, so that people can feel the benefit of it straight away. “Bawling people out when they make a mistake won’t help people’s self-esteem, but telling them where they have gone wrong and helping them to find ways to improve is far more helpful,” John comments.

You can of course help people re-vamp the way they talk about themselves in the same way that you can help yourself. When you have low self-esteem, it’s easy to think that others never seem to suffer from it - but in fact they may be struggling on just as much as you.

Build up your self-esteem in and out of the office

It’s important to build up your own team of supporters, in and out of the office. Good friends who know you well can help remind you of your own unique strengths and qualities which make you the great person you are. Remember, they choose you for their friend because they like you. So ask them what specifically attracts them to you and take note of their reply.

Make a start, now!

Give yourself a bouquet this weekend! It doesn’t have to be a bouquet of flowers. Treat yourself to something really special, to something you’d secretly love to do which is totally out of the ordinary for you. While you’re doing it, remind yourself of your particular qualities and achievements, and how much you deserve this treat. Enjoy!

Further Reading:

Share this page with your friends


Share this page with your friends.