This is a guest post by Matthew Snider.
Why are some people confident and others insecure? Is it education? Social standing? Genetics? More often than not, those factors have little to do with how confident you are. Rather, the difference usually comes down to striking the right balance between two extremes. There are many confidence boosting actions you can take. Here are 10 examples:
1. Make eye contact…
You’ve probably heard the expression that the eyes are the window into the soul. And it’s true—you can tell a lot about people by looking into their eyes. Someone who feels insecure or who has something to hide will often avoid direct eye contact.
2. …but don’t make too much eye contact
Staring too long can make people uncomfortable. Go for the middle of the road. Make eye contact as much as possible, but look away from time to time when it seems natural to do so.
The bottom line: Relax, be yourself, and engage the other person as naturally as possible.
3. Open up to others…
When people are insecure, they hesitate to reveal their true thoughts and feelings, afraid that they will say something that others will not agree with or will judge them for. On the other hand, secure people take the risk of opening up because they know that it’s healthy and because they don’t feel that their value as a person depends on what others think.
4 …but don’t talk too much
While it’s true that confident people open up, insecure people often reveal too much. If you let them talk and you do not say anything in response, they will talk on and on and on. The more silent you are, the more nervous they get, wondering what you’re thinking about them.
The bottom line: Share what’s appropriate, but not too much. Let the other person talk, too. Approach conversations like a game of catch.
5. Help other people…
Confident people are not afraid to help others. They listen, share information, and even assist when their family or friends are in need financially. They do not worry that helping others will somehow undermine their own success.
6 …but don’t seek praise for good deeds
A confident person does not feel the need to announce every good thing he or she does to help others. Confident people believe that a good deed is its own reward. They do not need praise from others to validate their good decisions.
The bottom line: Help other people because it’s the right thing to do—whether others appreciate and benefit from it or not.
7. Ask for feedback…
Insecure people may hesitate to ask for feedback on their work, plans, or decisions. They may fear that any negative feedback they receive indicates a major deficiency in their personality, character, or skillset. On the other hand, confident people seek out constructive criticism, knowing it can help them to see their blind spots and grow in their abilities.
8 …but don’t rely completely on the opinions of others
While we absolutely need objective feedback from others, confident people know that they cannot afford to let others make all their decisions for them. Seek input when possible. However, realize that at the end of the day, you need to make decisions based not only on others’ input but also on your experience and gut instinct.
The bottom line: Be sincerely open to the viewpoint of others—especially those who can genuinely help you. At the same time, know when to respectfully disagree and chart your own course.
9. Fake it until you make it…
Society often sends the message that we need to feel a certain way before we can act a certain way. But the opposite is often true: Act the way a confident person acts, and you will start to feel more confident. Stand tall and proud, and you will feel tall and proud.
10 …but don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes
If you “fake it until you make it” and things work out well, congratulations! But if they don’t go so well, be ready to admit that you were wrong. Time and again, confident people have found that when they own up to a mistake and learn from it, they have even more confidence going forward.
The bottom line: If you know what you should do, go ahead and do it (whether you feel like doing it or not). If things go well, awesome! If not, admit your mistake and move on.
As mentioned earlier, the key is to strike a middle-of-the-road balance. Don’t be arrogant—that will alienate others and ultimately undermine your success. Don’t be insecure—that too is a recipe for disaster. Aim to be balanced, confident in your own strengths and in those of others.
Matthew Snider is a writer, a personal development junkie and a regular blogger at Self Development Secrets. Matt, with his one quarter Asian descent, did not start out as a writer, but he says, “the love for a subject is the most important aspect of writing. The readers want to read something written by someone who understands them.”