We all know a confident person when we see one. It’s just something about the way they carry themselves that stands out. They’re not necessarily the smartest person in the room, or the most attractive or even the one with the best body, but there is something about confident people that makes us turn to look.
So what is confidence and why is it so important to our success and well-being?
Put simply, confidence is having a trust in your own qualities, your abilities in certain areas, the judgements you make and the power you have. A healthy confidence allows you to portray this inner trust to others where as being egotistical will have you trying to prove to others that you’re superior to them in some way. So why is having a healthy self-confidence important?
First and foremost, a healthy self-confidence has a profound effect on your thinking, your happiness, your motivation, your values and your goals. So basically, every aspect of your life! You’ll be more included to set goals and actually work towards achieving them. You’ll have an innate feeling of worthiness meaning you won’t let people treat you with disrespect and although some negative thoughts may still creep in from time to time, mostly you’ll be happy and look at things as the glass half full instead of being half empty.
Secondly, you will approach any problems and difficulties in a completely different manner to someone who is egotistical or conversely someone who has a low self-esteem. You’ll feel much more capable of being able to find a possible solution, you’ll be calmer and less likely to panic and even if things don’t go your way in the end, you’ll cope much better with the disappointment knowing that you’d done all that was possible to attain a good outcome.
And lastly, you’ll take better care of yourself. An egotistical person may be included to push boundaries to prove they are bigger and better than anyone else. This may mean drinking the most amount of alcohol at a party to prove they can handle it; they may eat the biggest burger to prove they can or they may over-exercise to show they’re the strongest. A person with low self-confidence may not exercise at all because they feel they’re not worth it or they may eat unhealthy foods or drink too much alcohol looking for a source of happiness. A person with a healthy level of self-confidence may indulge in these types of behaviours from time to time (hey – nobody’s perfect all the time right? J) will generally treat themselves and their bodies with the respect they know they deserve. They may choose to eat well during the week and leave the weekend for indulgences. They may work out a few times a week, go for a daily walk or make time for some yoga. They know what is right for themselves and their body and they will act accordingly most of the time.
Now we know what self-confidence is and why it’s important, how are some of the ways you can build yours?
Although we are all born perfectly, there is always room for improvement. We’re designed to be continually growing and developing and as we learn more we can do better. A low self-confidence is usually attributed to things we don’t like about ourselves and so to improve our self-confidence, we need to improve on those areas.
I remember when I was only fairly new to the workflow and needed to phone people for different reason. I hated it when the receptionist would ask if I could hold. For whatever reason, whenever I was asked this, the only response I could muster up was a squeak that resembled something like ‘yep’ from a 12 year old girl. Certainly not the image I wanted to put forward. After quite some time of this, I finally decided it was time to practice some new responses to I was ready for the next time I was asked to hold. I still wanted a short response as busy receptionists often cut you off before you’ve finished your answer anyway, but I just didn’t want it to sound panicked or rushed and I did want it to sound self-assured. So I just practiced repeating terms such as ‘Certainly’ and ‘Sure – I’ll hold’ until they felt like a natural response and it was truly amazing how much more confident I felt by having these simply responses already prepared. I remember the first time I used one properly I was so excited! Soon they became a natural response and I still use the same terms today without any fear of panicking or squeaking. It’s astounding how such a small change could make such a difference in the way I felt. But that’s how easy it is to make the changes and for you to grow and develop and become more confident and self-assured along the way.
Take a few moments now to think about some of the areas that you don’t feel confident in and choose one or two to start working on. Think about what you currently do in that area and what it is you’d rather do and start practicing the actions of your new behaviour.
Maybe you don’t feel comfortable meeting people for the first time so have some ready-made questions in your arsenal for small talk and practice them until they feel natural. ‘Hi, I’m Donna; it’s nice to meet you. What is your current career? That sounds interesting. What is the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?’ See how a couple of quick pre-planned questions can get you meeting someone new and then have them do the talking? People love talking about themselves, so if you take a genuine interest in what they’re saying; you’ll find you’ll become a great conversationalist.
Perhaps you don’t feel your outfits portray you the way you really want to be seen. Dressing with confidence doesn’t mean you need to be following the latest trends or fashion gurus, it’s simply about feeling good in what you’re wearing and know that it suits your body type and the event you’re going to. When you’re planning what to wear, think first about the event you’re going to. Is it a normal day at the office? Have you got a seminar to attend? Is it a casual lunch with friends? Determining what you’ll be doing will determine the type of outfit you’ll choose. Think about how you want to be seen. If you’ve got a presentation to give, do you really want to turn up in jeans or would a smart dress or pant suit be more appropriate? Dress for the person you want to be seen as but be careful not to overdress as this will have the opposite effect. You’ll feel out of place and your confidence will take a nose dive. Again, once you start making this a habit, it will soon become second nature and you’ll naturally feel confident in your wardrobe choices.
So what are you going to start working on? Make a list of two or three areas. Write down how they are now and what you want them to be. Do some research if you need to on how to get better at it and start putting in place one or two new habits. Once these habits are well formed, move onto the next ones. Before you know it you’ll be bounding with self-confidence and people will be asking you for tips!