But not all of us are born with natural confidence and even those of us who are can fail to portray ourselves in the self-assured manner we’d like at all times.
We asked confidence expert Robert Kelsey, author of new book What’s Stopping You Being More Confident? how we can both feel and project confidence:
“There are some surprising myths around confidence,” explains Robert. “For instance – talent has very little to do with it. But there are some universal things we can do to boost our confidence.”
10 tips for gaining confidence:
1. Discriminate. Confidence in what? Put an Olympic gymnast on a horse and she’ll fall off. No one is confident at everything so first decide where you want to win confidence.
2. Act. Nothing kills confidence more than doing nothing. Hesitation, delay, procrastination – all perpetuate poor confidence: turning that instant frisson of relief at the avoided action into an elongated under-confident funk. Sure you may fail – initially harming your confidence. But you’ll get over it. Turning away from the matter means the damage to your confidence could be permanent.
3. Achieve. From learning to ride a bike onwards, the lesson’s plain: if you want to become confident you need to achieve something. Anything. Match your peers and you’ll develop what the gurus call “self-efficacy” (a belief in your own ability). Beat your peers, and your confidence within any group will shine brightly.
4. Learn optimism. The under-confident are habitual pessimists. They assume and plan for the worst, which can so often become a self-fulfilling prophesy. This is a tough mental turnaround but focus on the upside, and confidence will likely follow.
5. Learn from success. If achievement’s the key to confidence, learning from achievement is the master key that opens all doors. Enjoying success and being conscious of what brought you that success is vital for replicating achievement in the future.
6. Develop resilience. Failure is also important. Confidence that collapses at the first failure is not confidence at all. Confidence is your ability to cope with the knockbacks – in fact, to gain from them. So, if unexpected negative results blow you off-course or stop your progress, you’re a long way short of confident. Aim to see setbacks and important feedback.
7. Enjoy your extroversion/introversion. Confident people are not always outgoing. Quiet, inward confidence is equally effective as those whose confidence is out there on show. Both are personality types divorced from confidence, despite appearances – though both are as capable of confidence. Your best bet is to decide where you sit on the extravert/introvert spectrum, and enjoy the advantages of that position rather than try to be something you’re not.
8. Become influential. Your confidence involves other people and external affirmation is important to how you feel. Learn to “influence” others (rather than dominate or persuade them), which is best gained through boosting their confidence. Indeed, pay compliments liberally – and watch your confidence balloon as the compliments come flying back.
9. Reframe hostility. They’ll always be someone wanting to put you down. The under-confident dislike other caterpillars turning into butterflies, so some can be deliberately hurtful (while others chip away almost unconsciously). Yet these are great signals of your growth, and should be viewed as such. Indeed, true confidence comes – not with winning the praise of others – but in your ability to cope with their criticisms.
10. Avoid arrogance. Arrogance is under-confidence in a fur coat, and the arrogant are insecure people riding for a fall. So while arrogance can look and feel great (certainly compared to under-confidence), it’s no more than a trap for the newly-confident. The best way to avoid arrogance is to keep growing. Your confidence can always improve or expand. There is always the next level, although it will take all your optimism, willpower and resilience to reach it.
Robert Kelsey’s book What’s Stopping You Being More Confident? is out now, Capstone publishing, £10.99.