What would you do if you had more confidence? Imagine being able to improve your life, career… and maybe even the world. How, you ask? You don’t need superheroes or superpowers — just confidence.
Confidence helps us:
- Learn and make positive changes
- Face challenges and create impact
- Improve our career, relationships and health (mental and physical)
Building confidence is easier than most people think.
Start with Why
Take a moment to consider what your would life look like if you had more confidence. Imagine believing that:
- You’re worthy and appreciated
- Your work is valuable
- Your thoughts and emotions are valid
- You can accomplish what you want
- You are lovable and loved
What if you’d had more confidence previously? Would you have been more proactive; taken more chances? Doing nothing guarantees failure, but taking action opens the door to success. Even if you don’t reach your goal, you might achieve some of it. At the very least, you’ll learn something.
The following tips are built on evidence-based research and lived experience.
Research shows that we tend to believe confident statements, agree with confident people, and think highly of confident body language. The best way to feel confident is by acting confident. You don’t have to believe it yet, just act like you do. When you practice confident body language your brain will start to believe you.
How do we “act confident”? It begins with the use of confident body language:
- Straighten your back and shoulders. Show the world you have dignity.
- Lift your chin and eyes. (Looking down can make you seem nervous or uncertain.)
- Make direct eye contact occasionally when you speak, especially to emphasize something.
- Use gestures as you speak.
- Smile a little. In North American culture, smiling is considered a sign of confidence.
- Pause occasionally when you speak – you’re in no rush, you’re in control.
- Nod your head a little as you speak, signalling agreement with what you’re saying.
- Speak up! Speaking a little louder and a bit slower demonstrates assertiveness.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Taking up space shows you believe you’re worthy of doing so.
There is a lot to remember so don’t try to make all these changes at once. Practice one skill at a time. When it feels comfortable and comes naturally, move on to the next skill.
- Use pauses, speak a bit slower.
- Allow silences, and let other people break them.
- Be brief – don’t repeat yourself or overexplain.
- Invite others to speak; throw the conversational ball in their court by asking questions.
Speak from your listener’s point of view:
- What do they need to know, and how can you say it in a way they can easily understand and accept?
- What do they need to hear first and what supporting details can you provide later?
- How much information can they take in at once? (Hint: less than you think.)
Use Your Voice
- Modulate your voice to add interest and engage listeners — speaking quietly draws listeners in, speaking a bit slower emphasizes your words; speaking faster forces your listeners to pay attention.
- Tell, don’t ask – don’t let your voice rise at the end of statements, the way it does when asking a question.
Claim your power and own what you’re saying
Don’t negate or disempower your statements with phrases like “This may be a bad idea, but…” “I may be wrong, but…” “This is just my opinion…” When you preface your speech with disempowering words, your listeners won’t respect them – or you. Say it authentically and confidently. You’re smart, you’re wise, your ideas are valid and useful. Share them confidently and give others a chance to appreciate them.
Stop allowing interruptions
When people interrupt, you can:
- Call them out calmly – “excuse me, you interrupted” – and continue what you were saying
- Stop speaking and look at them.
- Say “I’d like this to be a respectful environment, which includes not interrupting”
Ask questions, lots of questions
Ask, don’t tell. Asking good questions can make people think of you as more intelligent.
If you disagree with someone, don’t try to explain why they’re wrong (research shows that’s likely to make them more convinced of their beliefs). Ask questions instead. For example, if you disagree with someone’s idea, ask about results, roles and responsibilities. This will let people see the weaknesses of their idea, without being able to label you difficult, negative or argumentative.
Ask questions at social or networking events. When you’re talking to someone, keep the focus on them: what they do, what they like, what they read/ watch/ listen to. People will love talking to you!
Research continues to prove that gratitude is one of the keys to happiness and an optimistic mindset (confidence). Set aside time each day to remind yourself of three things you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be big or fancy; you can be grateful for sunshine, your favorite socks, and being able to walk.
When tasks feel daunting you can battle overwhelming feelings by breaking tasks down into manageable steps and taking them one step at a time. Sometimes even the tiniest action can set you in motion. This helps build your confidence that you can accomplish things.
Do it daily
Confidence is a practice, not a goal. It’s something you have to do daily. As you practice confidence, you’ll notice that your overall sense of wellbeing grows. You’ll be confident to try new things, open to new experiences, and enjoy meeting diverse people. Your life will become enriched with more meaningful relationships and a longer list of accomplishments. Challenges will arise, but you’ll have the confidence to overcome them.