What comes to mind when you think of someone who is “confident”?
The definition is personal to each of us, but a good general one is: feeling sure of yourself and your abilities — not in an arrogant way, but in a down-to-earth secure way.
I believe that everyone has the ability to learn how to feel confident. You can become the confident person you have in your mind’s eye right now. A social introvert who is outgoing and assertive.
Except this is what most people do:
- Wing it
- Don’t improve
- Declare that they just don’t have the “confidence gene” and give up
As a contrast, this is what Top Performers do:
- Get just enough information
- Take action and try it out in real life
- Observe what went well, what didn’t go well, and repeat
There have been times where I’ve walked into a networking event, only to do a lap around the room and walk straight out again.
Times when it felt like I literally couldn’t talk. My throat closed up and no words came out.
I had zero confidence.
I often thought: What the hell is wrong with me?
At one point or another, we’ve all had moments like this.
We all have different starting points, but we can all learn and grow.
If you want to become more confident, you need a combination of mindset and techniques. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about here.
1. No One Is Judging You. They’re Too Busy Worrying About If You’re Judging Them
We do this all the time.
You’re having a conversation. Suddenly you can’t get the thought out of your head that this person is laughing inwardly at the sound of your voice.
This is a sore spot for you. You hate the sound of your voice.
You become more self-conscious. Immediately you start to assume they are a bad person. “I can’t help it… it’s the only voice I’ve got!” you mutter to yourself.
This fear starts to affect your body language, tone of voice, the words you use… everything.
When in reality, your conversational partner realised that they hadn’t brought milk from the store and their spouse will get mad.
This way of thinking comes from the negativity bias. Years ago, humans had to assume the worst in everything to merely survive.
A rustle in the bushes? Assume it’s a rabbit when it’s actually a tiger, and you’re dead.
The more negative of us survived… leading to the people we are today. When we’re in an uncertain environment, our brain fills in the gaps with fear.
Confidence Activity #1
The next time you’re feeling judged, try out the following mindset: If we’re all hardwired to fear social judgement, how can I help the other person feel better about themselves?
By transferring the focus from you to your conversational partner, it takes the pressure off. You’re more concerned about their wellbeing rather than if they look good.
As a bonus, you’ll become known as the person who helps other people feel good. Win-win.
Having the awareness around the negativity bias can trickle down into other areas of your life. The world may start to feel like a friendlier place.
Confidence Activity #2: Level Extreme
If you’re up for a challenge that will really, really, really take you out of your comfort zone, try this:
Lie down flat on the ground in a public spot for 30 seconds.
We are so wired to worry about what other people think of us, when actually they are more concerned with their own problems.
This activity shocks your brain. You’ve done a huge social faux pas… and survived. Everything else will feel easy!
Do this at your own risk and expect stares!
2. Becoming Aware of The Spotlight Effect
The spotlight effect is a term psychologists use to describe the tendency we have to overestimate how much other people notice about us, our flaws, and our embarrassing moments.
It’s like an imaginary spotlight constantly shining down on you.
This feeling happens a lot during the day. Maybe you answered a question incredibly well during a meeting and could just tell that your coworkers will remember it until the end of time. Or perhaps you stumbled over your words speaking to someone you find attractive… and are now convinced they’ll always remember you as “that person who couldn’t speak”.
It’s an example of the many egocentric biases us humans have. (Lucky us).
There’s also the illusion of transparency, describes how we tend to believe that others are able to discern what we’re thinking or feeling.
It’s like we’re constantly playing the role of a social psychologist in our life, but with one big caveat: our interpretations are filtered by our perspectives, biases, and beliefs.
We place so much pressure on ourselves
Research has found that we give a lot of weight to our own experiences and don’t take into account the perspectives of others as much as we could.
However, as already mentioned, taking the focus off of you onto your conversational partner is one of the best ways to feel less socially anxious.
Ask yourself what you would do if the roles were reversed. If you were speaking with someone who looked uncomfortable, went red, or had spinach in their teeth?
Chances are, you’d be compassionate and caring towards them.
Thinking about how much leeway and benefit of the doubt we give other people can help you calm down when you start to become anxious.
3. +10% More Energy
It’s incredible how much of a difference adding an extra 10% of energy into a conversation can make. Some introverts find this straightforward to do and for others it’s incredibly draining.
Try it out with the next conversation you have and see what happens. You may need to prep for this by mentally recharging your energy before social interactions or an event.
10% is not high enough to feel overwhelming. It’s something you can achieve by:
- Being enthusiastic about a topic, especially one that you don’t know a lot about. People love being asked for advice, and asking them what they think about an activity, idea, or concept with the energy of someone who really wants to learn is impactful. You may find you end up being really interested in it naturally because you’re investing more mental energy into learning about it.
- Sharing stories about yourself. (Not sure the best way to tell a story? Learn how to do it here). Humans connect with others over stories and we love a good storyteller. Have 3-4 stories in your Story Toolbox ready to whip out when needed.
- Giving someone 110% of your attention. In this distraction heavy society we live in, you pay someone the biggest compliment by making them the centre of your world, even for 10 minutes. This helps them feel seen, heard, listened to, and understood.
Find confidence through your body language
You can also add in 10% through your body language. When our body language aligns with our words, our message is much more powerful.
Not only will others see you as more confident, but you’ll also feel more confident.
When we fell confident on the inside, it’s easier to be confident on the outside. It’s a helpful cycle that you can kickstart by changing your body language.
As introverts, we tend to try and take up the least amount of space as possible. By consciously taking up space with our body, we feel more confident.
Use your body language to boost your confidence:
- Open your chest.
- Sit or stand up tall.
- Raise your head and chin up.
- Roll your shoulders back and down.
- Have your arms loose by your side or on your lap.
Finding a confident role model is great at seeing how this all works in practise.
This can be someone you admire at work who you think is confident. Or a loved one who exudes confidence.
See how they act in social settings:
- What their body language is like
- How they speak
- How people respond to them.
We can learn so much from watching others. This person can be a secret role model or one who you talk about this with.
Confidence Activity #3
When joining a conversation, add 10% more energy by:
- Being enthusiastic about new topics and eager to learn from people
- Answering with 2-sentences (instead of a couple of words)
- Smiling more and speaking a little louder than you usually would
- Making engaged eye contact
- Really exuding the feeling of being glad to be there. This really makes the other person feel excited to be with you—you are someone who is so excited to be with them!
When you have 10% higher energy, you’ll never run the risk of awkwardly hovering on the outside of a group and nodding along. (We’ve all done it. No shame)
Here are a couple of scripts to help you join the conversations:
- “Hi! I hope you don’t mind me joining, you looked like you were having a great conversation.”
- “Apologies for jumping in—I’ve had experience of this and I’d love to share…”
- “Hi—would you mind if I joined?”
4. Practise, Practise, Practise
Feeling confident is a skill. And like any other skill, it comes down to practise and expanding your comfort zone.
Pick an activity that is just slightly out of your comfort zone. For example:
- If you tend to simply tell the coffee barista your order, the next time ask them how their day is going and start a mini-conversation.
- If you avoid eye contact with the cashier at the supermarket, make eye contact and smile next time you are there.
- If you haven’t shared your recent successes or achievements with your manager, send them an email—even if it feels uncomfortable.
Make it easy to practise confidence regularly by using a technique called “anchoring”. The aim is to trigger your mind to move into confident body language and feel more confident after you’ve seen something.
Pick an item or object you see a lot. It can be specific, such as your coat, or general, such as any doorway you walk through.
For a full 3 days, whenever you go past your chosen object or item, go through this checklist:
- Are my shoulders rolled back and down so my chest is open?
- Is my head and chin up?
- Am I smiling? If not, can I smile for 10 seconds right now?
- Tell yourself: “I am confident. I am competent. I am enough.”
It will soon become second nature and you won’t have to go through the checklist point by point. Instead, you’ll feel a mini confidence boost at regular intervals.
Confidence is a skill that us introverts can learn. The biggest driver comes from our mindset: if we are someone who believes that we can grow and become the person we want to be, it becomes a whole lot easier to change.
- No one is judging you. Seriously, they’re worrying about a looming work deadline or their next train home. Become aware of the negativity bias and don’t let it dictate how you think.
- Reduce the pressure you put on yourself by focusing on the other person. It will help you feel less like you’re in the spotlight and scrutinised from every angle.
- Add in an extra 10% of energy to boost everything about a conversation. Try this out on the next interaction you have and let us know in the comments how it went!
- Practise. Practise moving just out of your comfort zone daily and you’ll be feeling confident in a much shorter time than you could imagine.
Taking charge of your story requires confidence.
Luckily, confidence is a skill that can be learned.
In a process as small as 6 steps!
Click on the blue button below.
I’ll send you a checklist of six simple steps that will increase your self-confidence.
In it, you’ll learn:
- The strategy to become your biggest cheerleader
- A huge confidence killer to avoid
- The exact steps you can take today to boost your confidence