From the quietly confident doctor whose advice we rely on, to the charismatic confidence of an inspiring speaker, self-confident people have qualities that everyone admires.
Self-confidence is extremely important in almost every aspect of our lives, yet so many people struggle to find it. Sadly, this can be a vicious circle: People who lack self-confidence can find it difficult to become successful.
After all, most people are reluctant to back a project that's being pitched by someone who was nervous, fumbling, and overly apologetic.
On the other hand, you might be persuaded by someone who speaks clearly, who holds his or her head high, who answers questions assuredly, and who readily admits when he or she does not know something.
Self-confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their peers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. And gaining the confidence of others is one of the key ways in which a self-confident person finds success.
The good news is that self-confidence really can be learned and built on. And, whether you’re working on your own self-confidence or building the confidence of people around you, it’s well-worth the effort!
How Confident do you Seem to Others?
Your level of self-confidence can show in many ways: your behavior, your body language, how you speak, what you say, and so on. Look at the following comparisons of common confident behavior with behavior associated with low self-confidence. Which thoughts or actions do you recognize in yourself and people around you?
Doing what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticize you for it.
Governing your behavior based on what other people think.
Being willing to take risks and go the extra mile to achieve better things.
Staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure and so avoid taking risks.
Admitting your mistakes, and learning from them.
Working hard to cover up mistakes, and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices.
Waiting for others to congratulate you on your accomplishments.
Extolling your own virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible.
Accepting compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that prospectus. I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.”
Dismissing compliments offhandedly. “Oh that prospectus was nothing really, anyone could have done it.”
As you can see from these examples, low self-confidence can be self-destructive, and it often manifests itself as negativity. Self-confident people are generally more positive – they believe in themselves and their abilities, and they also believe in living life to the full.
What is Self-Confidence?
Two main things contribute to self-confidence: self-efficacy and self-esteem.
We gain a sense of self-efficacy when we see ourselves (and others similar to ourselves) mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those skill areas. This is the confidence that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we'll succeed; and it's this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks.
This overlaps with the idea of self-esteem, which is a more general sense that we can cope with what's going on in our lives, and that we have a right to be happy. Partly, this comes from a feeling that the people around us approve of us, which we may or may not be able to control. However, it also comes from the sense that we are behaving virtuously, that we're competent at what we do, and that we can compete successfully when we put our minds to it.