People who want to boost their confidence often compare themselves (negatively) to those who seem to be brimful and bursting with the stuff. Doing this negatively doesn’t help. However, we can make a really useful project of observing and studying the people who seem confident, and breaking down their ‘code for confidence’.
- Identify two or three people you think are confident (and this next bit’s important), in a way you like. It’s no use studying people whose confidence jars with you, or would make you cringe if you tried to mimic it. Go for exemplars who model confidence in a way that sits well with you. These people may be on TV, or doing stuff on YouTube, maybe they are written about in books. Or they may be colleagues, friends and relatives, or people in your community.
- Now study them closely: how do they ‘do’ confidence? What do they actually do that makes them seem confident to you? We need to brush up our grammar here: we’re after verbs. For example, they stand tall, they pause when they speak, they make eye contact with each person around the meeting table, they smile more than they frown. Make notes on each person for the same criteria: it may be how they speak, or how they handle a group, or how they make a point really clearly, or how they stand. If possible, observe how they handle setbacks, such as tricky questions: what do they do then? You will need to gather as much information as you possibly can, for each exemplar, against each of your criteria.
- Next, stand back and look for what your different exemplars have in common. Is it the level of eye contact, or the way they walk? Do they ask genuine and respectful questions? Do they use facial expression and gesture to put others at ease?
- When you have a basic ‘code for confidence’, review it for compatibility with your own values. Eliminate anything that you would never, ever do because it just isn’t you. Put anything you’re hesitating slightly over on hold. Focus on the core of your confidence code with what’s left. What you now have is a code you can put into practice.
- Try out one thing at a time, knowing that this may be like walking in new shoes – a little strange at first, but fine once you get used to it – and add other elements steadily, refining as you go.
For more on boosting your confidence, and a great in-depth resource, I recommend Melanie Fennell’s book ‘Overcoming Low Self-Esteem’.