Have you noticed how almost every social gathering you attend has someone who stands out from the rest of the group? That person is comfortable and self-assured, making each person he or she speaks to feel equally at ease. You may have sighed to yourself, wishing you were blessed with their DNA.
Here’s a secret that may make you feel better right away. Self-confidence is in your brain, not your genes. Those people you’ve admired recognized that fact and formulated a smart game plan to develop that sense of assurance, just as they would with any goal they wanted to accomplish.
You can get a head start on your own game plan and avoid the trial-and-error that comes with learning any new skill. Use these tips for the framework and you’re well on your way to having the self-confidence that others will admire.
1. Be sure to look the part
Physical appearance is always going to provide the first impression. It’s difficult to exude confidence when slumped shoulders and crossed arms indicate the opposite. People will form an opinion based on your body language before you even get to say a word.
Mom knew best when she told you to stand up straight. That simple detail shows that you’re not afraid to be yourself. Walk through a room at a moderate pace, looking ahead rather than at the floor. Allow your hands and arms to rest comfortably at your side. Excessive fidgeting is a red flag for insecurity.
To paraphrase a popular saying, confident is as confident does. Don’t wait until your brain has fully processed the message. If you act with ease and self-assurance, your inside will eventually catch up and synchronize with your outside.
Be sure to look people in the eye, offer a firm handshake and speak in a well-modulated tone. No matter how nervous you may feel, these actions will cause people to react positively, which in turn will boost your confidence.
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” ~ Lao Tzu
3. Understand that everyone is insecure
Shy, timid people often feel they’re the only ones struggling with lack of confidence. This mistaken idea that they’re “different” then feeds upon itself, making it even more difficult for them to come out of their shell.
The truth is that nearly everyone has insecurities of one form or another. Recognizing that fact goes a long way toward easing your own issues. Knowing that you’re on equal ground with others creates a feeling of freedom, allowing you to interact with them more easily.
“Smile, for everyone lacks self-confidence and more than any other one thing a smile reassures them.” ~ Andre Maurois
4. Use fear to your advantage
Don’t let fear derail your growing self-confidence. Just as an experienced athlete gets butterflies before a big game, confident people can still get a pit in their stomach when entering a party. Rather than backing out, they use it as motivation to sharpen and refine their skills.
Next time you feel anxious or scared, don’t think of it as a negative. Consider it a sign that you’re still learning and growing. As long as you’re feeling fear you’ll have an incentive to continue developing your skill.
“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.” ~ William Jennings Bryan
5. Practice really does make perfect
Remember how you thought that the self-confident people you met were born with it? That’s because they’ve practiced so often that they’ve internalized these traits, making them seem natural.
Going back to the sports metaphor, consider the concept of “muscle memory”. Athletes practice so often that their bodies automatically remember how to respond in a certain situation. You can use the same idea to train your brain to react with the appropriate signals. Take every possible opportunity to interact with others, practicing what you’ve already learned and gaining knowledge for the future.
These ideas provide a solid foundation for you to build and strengthen your sense of self-confidence. Before long, that person in the room everyone wants to know will be you!
In society generally, do you think there are more problems caused by overconfidence or underconfidence?