“Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.”—Stan Smith.
Have you noticed how some people are so self-confident they simply glide through social gatherings and engage with others effortlessly. Even their mere presence captivates the audience around them.
What if I told you, gaining that level of Self-confidence isn’t as difficult to achieve as you believe it to be?
It might seem all but impossible, especially to some of us introverts, but the truth is;
Learning how to be confident is all about perception. The manner we perceive ourselves and other’s perception of us.
If you can wield it you’ll be that confident individual who glides through everything.
Let me offer you a short example.
There was a teacher in our fourth grade whose idea of abating stage fright was to shove participants into the dais and say “Assume people sitting before you are donkeys and know nothing.”
As far as pep talks goes, it was crude one…but, surprisingly, worked every time.
When someone encounters a fear triggering situations the mind produces two reactions—fight or flight.
To prevent the student from the ‘fight response’ the teacher boosted their confidence with self-assurance. Once, they believed they had more knowledge than the audience, their fear automatically receded.
Brene Brown, a researcher of human behavior, spent a decade understanding the concept of vulnerability.
She believed the only different between People with strong sense of belonging and people who feel they are not worthy is ‘belief’.
That’s what perception does in a nutshell. (It might feel confusing but keep reading and you’ll know what I am talking about.)
In this article, I have shared Seven tried and tested tricks to practice self-confidence just so you can develop it naturally on your own.
1. Talk To A Stranger Twice A Week
How many times have you chickened out at the last moment when trying to approach someone?
It’s called a typical flight response.
Simply put, you are uneasy of other person reaction.
Almost 85% of the population is suffering from low self-esteem. Fear of rejection and failure is an uphill battle many struggle with.
However, there’s solution to get out of the vicious circle of fear and build your self-confidence fast.
Kio Stark calls it ‘pushing boundaries.’
Think of it as a debutante. You step out of your comfort zone and connect to strangers.
While for a shy one, interacting with a stranger is easier said than done but there is no harm in trying. Right?
Reach out to a stranger in a pub, park, or grocery store and strike a conversation.
The worst that could happen is embarrassment at being ignored, but since you’ll probably never see them again, you won’t have to worry about awkward recaps.
Scroll through conversation starter apps for help or try these two tricks with genuine success rate.
- Praise them on something. Everyone loves receiving complements. It’s an excellent ice breaker line.
- Start talking on a common interest. If you are doing grocery shopping discuss a particular brand you both picked up.
People are more inclined to participate on a shared interest.
2. Pay Attention To Your Attire
Imagine, you’ve interview that you are already late for. To save time, you haphazardly iron your cloths and reach office wearing a crinkled shirt while you witness others flaunting crease free suits.
What do you believe would happen?
Your self-consciousness would kick in. The nerves would emerge and you’ll feel intimidated.
Ultimately, your self-confidence would plummet and your mind had already conjured starch shirt is better than you before the Interview was even started.
All, because, the other was better dressed than you.
Scientists called this phenomena “enclothed cognition”. They believe how you dress not only affects other’s perceptions of you, but also your own.
It happens everywhere.
Take a high-end restaurant for instance.
Would you feel confident if you visit it wearing old washed out cloths?
Dressing well makes us feel good causing a subtle change in our whole demeanor.
The wall street journal has explained it better in their article. If you can get through the subscription, you might want to check it out.
To put that article in a shell, next time you need a confidence boost, dress well.
3. Ask, Don’t Assume
Have you ever avoided someone because you thought they were too arrogant to converse with lowly peasants?
This had happened to me a lot—only I was the other one.
A peer of mine evaded interacting with me for a whole year.
She believed I was—in her words—‘too uppity’ to interact. I was too astonished to feel offended at that time.
Many shy away from communication due to unnecessary assumptions. What if she doesn’t like me? What if I make a fool of myself? I can’t do it. People will laugh at me.
Fear of rejection triggers the stress reaction. Your brain will then come up with multiple excuses to avoid the situation, and assumptions would prevail.
Odin miller, a famous American author once said, “You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do!”
People, frankly, are too busy to concern themselves with anyone else.
If you have reservation about someone, my only advice would be to simply go and ask.
You would be surprised how wrong assumptions are most of the time.
Head out to a person “you believe doesn’t regard you without even knowing you” and talk to them on a random subject.
Since, our goal is to boost self-confidence by approaching strangers, skipping the assumptions would allow meeting new people easier.
4. Change the Perception With Power Poses
Power pose was the concept—albeit not a new one– Amy Cuddy introduced in one her speeches on Ted talk and received immense response on it—53 million to be exact.
She said, how we perceive ourselves influences our body language. If we identify the power poses and apply it on ourselves, we could feign self-confidence until we develop it naturally.
If you are not familiar with the power pose, they are essentially the slight changes in the posture causing someone look more confident.
Puffing up chest, standing straight, chin up, they are all poses of powerful people.
Moreover, Some people even develop their own power poses.
For instance, I use the ‘long strides and look straight” pose to appear confident. I call it a “Burocrate pose.” It was a power pose I picked up from my father.
Now, explore your social circle and imitate one of their power poses. You’ll be amazed at the shift in the people’s response towards you.
5. Use the Pep talk “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”
You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. ~Wayne Gretzky
This is by far one of the most effective tricks that boosted my self-confidence two times over.
In our MBA class, we were taught the relation between risk and reward.
The theory stated, the more you accept risk, the higher are the chances of reward. I believe, the same theory can be applied in daily life decisions.
Are you familiar with “other’s taking credit for my work” nightmare? I am sure some of you must have hands on experience with it as well.
So, what if you didn’t allow them to get away with it?
Would you earn recognition, get kicked out of, or ridiculed?
This process is called evaluating risk and reward.
If worst isn’t “too worst” for you, you’ll be more inclined to take a plunge.
Now, think small.
There’s person you have been meaning to talk to for long but couldn’t bring up the courage.
Evaluate what’s the worst that could happen.
- They would ignore you.
- They would love to know you more
Is being ignored too hard to endure?
That’s your answer.
6. Mimic And Practice
“Uor wone maketh maister.” If you keep exercising your skills you’ll gain mastery over it—an excerpt from Ayenbite, 1340.
Let me ask you a question.
How do you acquire a new skill?
You observe others, learn their techniques, and mimic their styles until you have gained mastery over it.
Learning how to be confident requires the same steps.
For starters, observe influential presence and social butterflies in your circle and note how they carry themselves, interact with other, start a conversation, and such.
Then, emaciate their style.
Remember the Power poses I discussed earlier? This is the ‘imitating others’ stage.
Practice it in front of the mirror, and then in front of people.
Note their reaction. If you receive the desired reaction, your mission is accomplished.
While some might call it an impostor behavior, I consider it an inspiration.
7. Fake it Till You Make It
According to Law of attraction, if you think good thoughts, good will happens to you.
The theory of “Fake it until you makes it” emphasizes the similar principle.
If you feign enough self-confidence, it will come to you naturally.
Now, the problem is some are not comfortable with faking confidence terming it as a deceiving act.
If you feel the same, you might want to read what Professor Herminina Ibarra has to say about it.
She calls it an Authenticity paradox.
People, when faced with challenging situation, are often reluctant to come out of their comfort zones using their “true selves” as a shield.
In other words, comfort zone is a lull which will hamper your growth.
If we move the science aside, even common folks would impart the same advice of “Faking confidence” to swat the self-doubt.
Confidence is not an inborn talent. It’s a self-taught skill. Regardless of age, you can learn to be confident in yourself.
As for difficulty level?
Since the day you were born, you’ve been following your parents like a duckling self-teaching your way into the world.
If your toddler self can learn anything, so can you.