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Do you possess the single most important attribute of a professional?

As you move through life, you may work in a variety of positions at countless companies. You might have had your first job in high school at a restaurant or retailer and then worked your way up to an office position after college. People may attribute their success to hard work, passion and dedication, but there is actually one characteristic that stands out among the rest when it comes to advancement in the workplace.

"48% of executives said confidence conveys professionalism."

According to recent business research from ProOpinion, 48 percent of business professionals said confidence conveys professionalism. The only attribute that comes close is strong performance with 25 percent of employees and executives saying so. However, those two are closely tied together, as people who are proud of their work tend to display more self-confidence. This poise can translate into various advantages in the business world.

Confidence leads to success
As Thomas Jefferson once said, "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." If you're confident, you can accomplish nearly anything both in your personal life and at work. While in the office, you may experience benefits from appearing self-assured, which will help you succeed in the workplace.

If you stutter, appear shy, slouch or aren't dressed your best, you aren't going to be taken seriously by anyone. People will doubt your qualifications and may turn elsewhere for the information and services you could provide them. Appearing unsure of your decisions could make your associates and co-workers question your abilities and could hinder your success at work.

On the other hand, being confident works wonders in the office, Huffington Post contributor Kelli Richards explained. When you stand up straight, look put together, speak clearly and are sure of your actions, you'll appear to know what you're doing. You're more likely to gain people's trust and will be allowed to make decisions that affect or influence others. Because you won't be questioning your every move, you'll be more relaxed and able to make smarter choices.

Confident people stand out from their peers, and they're leaders instead of followers. People tend to look to them for guidance, and self-assured people are able to provide answers and advice because they are able to step back from the situation, consider all sides and determine the best possible solution. These are the people you will see rise up the ranks and hold executive positions.

Shy people can appear unsure of their decisions, which makes others doubt them.Shy people can appear unsure of their decisions, which makes others doubt them.

Become a more confident person
Unfortunately, being confident isn't as easy as it could be. If you're a naturally shy person, you may find it hard to take yourself out of your comfort zone and be extroverted. However, according to author and certified life coach Barrie Davenport, "Low self-confidence isn't a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered--just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better."

You'll be able to convince both yourself and others of your confidence by adopting the habits of naturally self-assured people.

  • Stay positive - Negativity not only brings you down, but everyone else around you too. You shouldn't talk badly about yourself, the workplace or your peers and you should stay away from pessimistic people, Forbes contributor Jaime Kulaga suggested. Being around negative people will bring down your self-confidence, and talking badly about yourself will show others that even you don't believe in yourself. If you can't trust yourself, why should anyone else? This can be detrimental to your success at work.
  • Improve non-verbal communication - In today's society, people use words in various forms to convey their thoughts. However, the written and spoken words aren't the only ways to communicate with those around you. Your body language may speak louder than your speech, Inc. magazine contributor Peter Economy explained. Stand tall, dress professionally, make eye contact and smile. Non-verbal communication is just as important as oral and written messages in making yourself appear as an expert in your field.
  • Increase your knowledge - While it's possible to fake your expertise, it's much better to know what you're talking about. Confident people don't have to stop and think about what sounds good or what will be accepted. They speak their minds without a doubt in their minds. This comes from increasing your knowledge base, according to Inc. contributor John Brandon. Expand your understanding with your industry by reading books, attending conferences and taking classes.
  • Keep going - There may be times when failure looms overhead and you begin to doubt your abilities and decisions. This can be detrimental for anyone. The fear of not succeeding can stop people in their tracks and will leave them unsure of all their work. However, you can't let the potential of failure prevent you from doing your job. Instead, learn from your mistakes and make sure you don't repeat them in future projects.

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