If you have difficulty speaking up at meetings, making new suggestions or meeting new people, you might need to build your self-confidence. Self-confidence is different from assertiveness or self-esteem. It’s about doing the things you want to do without feeling anxious or nervous about them.
There are many things you can work on that, over time, will build your self-confidence. You might learn a new skill, become an expert on something, or regularly make an effort to go out of your comfort zone. But what about those times where you are already in a situation that you could benefit from a little self-confidence boost? There are a few easy tricks you can try that might help you out in the moment.
Good Posture (Mom Was Right)
Sometimes just sitting up straight (or standing up tall) can make all the difference in your self-confidence. Look around you in a classroom or at a meeting or in a restaurant. Usually the people who are talking and the ones who have engaged listeners are sitting up tall. And if they are standing, you will notice their shoulders aren’t hunched and their spine isn’t sagging.
If you are looking for a little extra confidence to speak up, try sitting up straight first. Make eye contact, lean forward a bit, and speaking clearly. You’re more likely to be heard that way – and also more likely to be taken seriously!
The Worst That Can Happen Isn’t So Bad
Another quick way to boost your self-confidence is to think, “What’s the worst that can happen?” If you have to speak in front of a group, you might lose your place or not be able to answer an audience member’s question. No big deal – you can take a moment to find your place or tell the questioner you’ll get back to her.
When you really think about what the worst is that can happen, you realize either that bad thing isn’t really that awful or it’s really improbable. Think about the worst case scenario, and your fear is likely to diminish and your ability to step up (or speak up) can become a little stronger.
People with vast knowledge or in positions of power often speak slowly. It’s a reflection of their confidence. People lacking in confidence will often race through what they’re saying, if only to quickly get out of the spotlight. Even if you aren’t feeling confident, try to speak slowly. It will give the appearance that you know your topic and are confident about what you’re saying. Portraying that confidence will help you feel the confidence.
Think About Your Strengths
You may sometimes find yourself in a situation where you want to speak up or be more engaged with people around you, yet you are hesitant to join in. If you can’t quite find the confidence to jump in, do a quick mental run-down of your strengths.
If you’re at a party where you don’t know anyone and feel hesitant about joining the conversation, think about how many friends you have and the reasons they like being around you. Maybe you’re a great storyteller or a good listener. Your new acquaintances will probably think so too.
Or if you’re in a meeting with your bosses, and you have a great idea, think about how much you know your topic, how immersed you are in it everyday, and how you might actually know more about some details because it is your daily job. Your bosses want to hear from you because you know your stuff!
By reminding yourself of your strengths, you can give yourself a quick self-confidence boost and find that you are more ready to share ideas and to be heard.
Don’t Worry About Being Perfect
There are never exactly the right or wrong things to say or do in any situation, whether in a personal or business setting. If you want to try a new hobby but worry about failing, you’ll never find out if it’s for you. If you met someone you’re interested in dating, but you aren’t sure exactly how to ask her out, you should know there’s no perfect way that works for everybody.
If you are lacking confidence to try something new or ask someone out, don’t worry about doing it perfectly. Just think about doing your best. Because really, that’s good enough. It’s rare that you try something new or different and it works perfectly the first time. The only way to get better is to keep trying.
Similarly, if you are hesitant to speak up at work because you’re not sure your idea is flawless – speak up anyway. Chances are your idea won’t be flawless, but that’s okay. Someone else will have another idea to build on yours or maybe another person was thinking exactly as you were and you can work together to find solutions.
You won’t be perfect when you step out of your comfort zone, so don’t try to be. Give yourself permission to have some flaws, and that might be enough to boost your confidence a bit and try something new.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Comparing yourself to yourself and not to others will eliminate a lot of unnecessary pain in your life. You can always find people who are funnier, brighter, richer, or luckier than you. So comparing yourself to others is just an exercise that is destined to bring you down.
Don’t hesitate to ask someone out just because there are other guys present who are more attractive. Don’t hesitate to try to meet new friends just because they might not bond with you immediately. Focus on yourself, not the other people around you, no matter if they are more or less successful. Again, think about what you have to offer, as opposed to what others have. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Focus on what you bring to the table, and you may find that it gives you the extra confidence to do something now that would have made you apprehensive in the past.
Do you have tricks for easy in-the-moment self-confidence boosts? What do you do or say that helps you get past your hesitations? I would love to hear from you in the comments, and you can also connect with me on twitter at @OneMoveForward!