It seems as if self-confident people are at ease with themselves professionally and personally. They are trustworthy and can inspire and motivate others. It is not easy to be confident in yourself, especially if you grew up in a critical environment and now you yourself are a self-critic. The good news is that there are ways to increase and maintain self-confidence.
What is self-confidence?
Understanding and believing in your own choices and judgments, valuing yourself, and feeling worthy of all good things that come your way, regardless of imperfections and flaws you have about yourself. Self-efficacy and self-esteem are subtly different. Self-efficacy is when we see others (and ourselves) mastering skills and achieving goals, which encourages us to believe in ourselves to be successful. This type of confidence keeps us going in the face of setbacks. On the other hand, self-esteem is a more general sense that we can cope with what life presents to us, which is not always easy. A huge part of self-esteem comes from feeling approved by others around us. If you experience a lot of criticism and rejection, your self-esteem can suffer unless you find other ways to support it.
Confidence and Behaviour
The examples above show how low self-confidence can be destructive, and high confidence promotes positivity – people value themselves and trust themselves when they feel confident. In doing so, confident people also acknowledge their failures and learn from them.
How to Appear More Confident to Others
Self-confidence can be seen in many ways, such as body language, behaviour, how and what you say. We have heard this saying a lot “fake it till you make it”, but it is not about faking confidence. If you project with confidence, others will respond well, and the positive feedback will boost your self-esteem, increasing confidence.
- Body Language
Adopt an open posture. Sit or stand upright and place your hands by your sides. Avoid standing with your hands on your hips, as this can communicate a desire to dominate. And be sure not to slouch!
Keep your head upright and level. Don’t lean too far forward or backward, as this can make you look aggressive. And if you’re presenting, use open hand gestures. Spread your hands apart, with your palms facing slightly toward your audience. This indicates a willingness to communicate and to share ideas. Keep your upper arms close to your body.
- Face-to-Face Communication
Engaging with people is important, so maintain eye contact while you talk. This shows that you’re interested in what they’re saying and that you’re taking an active part in the conversation. But bear in mind any cultural considerations when it comes to body language and communication. Don’t fidget or look away while the conversation continues, as this can make you appear distracted or anxious.
- Meeting Short-Term Challenges to boost confidence
Even the most outwardly confident person can find themselves doubting their abilities sometimes. For example, you may have a talent for coming up with great ideas or solutions but struggle to make your voice heard in meetings. To address short-term dips in confidence, first, try to identify the cause of the problem.
Other people’s attitudes or behaviour may contribute to your lack of confidence. If you’re being bullied, if you’re subjected to microaggressions in the workplace or feel that people are making unfair assumptions about you, you need to call this behaviour out. You can use the Situation-Behavior-Impact Feedback Tool to make it clear to the person responsible that their behaviour is harmful. If that does not work, seek help from your manager or speak directly to HR.
Practice assertiveness to build a sense that you have rights and needs as an individual, and make sure that others understand and respect your personal boundaries. This will help to build the psychological safety you need to develop self-confidence.
How to remain confident?
- Building Confident Habits
To build a strong sense of self-esteem, and the confidence that develops from it, aim to develop good habits (and to break bad ones!). Look after your physical and mental health.
- Reviewing Past Achievements
Your self-confidence can increase when you are able to say, “I can do this, and here’s the evidence.” List the 10 things you are most proud of in an “achievement log.” Review these achievements and use them to make positive affirmations about what you can do.
- Setting Confidence-Boosting Goals
Setting and achieving goals is an important part of developing self-confidence. Goal setting is the process you use to set yourself targets and measure how successfully you hit them. When you’ve identified the major goals you want to achieve, identify the first step you need to take for each one. Make sure it’s a very small step, perhaps taking no more than an hour to complete.
How to get your confidence back when you have been through a rough patch.
During those darker periods, our confidence tends to hit rock bottom. We hesitate and doubt ourselves. We forget who we are and what we are supposed to be doing, and every single aspect of our life and business is affected.
- Accept that “perfection” does not exist.
- Get your finances in order and do not spend on what you don’t need.
- Limit your exposure to negativity.
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
- Sign up for fitness classes.
- Learn something new.
- Give something back.
- Take a break.
- Know that you are worth it.