You've likely worked for someone or known someone with poor self-confidence. Rather than give directions as to what you need to accomplish, they give shaky apologies. They may be fumbling with their words, visibly anxious and possibly trembling, and avoiding eye contact. Perhaps their shoulders are even hunched.
You're not sure if you want to follow what they tell you to do or just give them a big hug and tell them everything will be alright.
The real question is: Is this how other people see you?
Whether you spend your days in a corporate or business environment or the bulk of your time is committed to running a household, your success depends in part on your ability to influence others.
And oddly enough, your ability to influence others has little to do with any authority given to you. It has more to do with the confidence you have in yourself and communicate to others.
Confidence's Impact on Your Performance
When you have little self-confidence, you are less likely to:
- Stand up for your convictions
- Step out of your comfort zone to achieve great things
- Inspire and motivate your team into doing anything
After all, if you don't have confidence in yourself, why will anyone else?
On the other hand, when you are brimming with confidence, others feel more comfortable with you in the lead. You'll be more likely to take risks with potentially large payoffs, you'll be comfortable standing up for what you know is right, and your team will feel safe following your lead.
Your self-confidence and your belief in yourself as a leader will make the biggest impact on whether your team succeeds or fails.
How Do I Build Self-Confidence in Myself?
If self-confidence is so incredibly important in a business and personal environment, why is it so lacking in most leaders?
Unfortunately, self-confidence is not taught alongside math, reading, and writing in school. Couple that with the negative messaging from parents, teachers, and peers that most people receive as children, and you've got a recipe for disaster. While some people will do the work to bolster their own self-confidence and build themselves up, many individuals will go through life holding on to that negative messaging and allowing it to affect every aspect of their world.
But you're different.
Now that you know where low self-confidence comes from and how important it is to do the work, you're ready to strengthen your confidence and become a better leader in the process.
Building self-confidence isn't an overnight process. This is something you'll be working on for many years to come. Be patient with yourself, and know that every step forward you take is a step in the right direction.
14 Confidence Building Strategies to Help You Shine
While you may have dealt with a lifetime of negative programming and low self-confidence, there are a variety of strategies you can use to build yourself up and start living the life you want to live.
1. Dress for How You Want to Feel
Have you ever watched a makeover show where the person went from a mess to a success? While the alterations are being made to their outward appearance, their entire demeanor changes.
Yoga pants or sweats may make you feel comfy and cozy, but they do nothing to boost your confidence. Put some effort into selecting your wardrobe and dress properly for every occasion. Take the time to do your hair, makeup (if appropriate), and iron or otherwise neaten your clothing. When you look good, you'll feel better about yourself. You'll also be taken more seriously in a professional environment and others will appreciate the effort you put into your appearance.
2. Stand Up Straight
Your posture says a lot about you. When you see someone walk into a room with their shoulders hunched, their head down, and their eyes glued to the floor, it does not inspire confidence. However, when someone walks into the room with their back straight, their shoulders back, and eye contact being made, they can quickly command control of the room.
Your posture doesn't only communicate how you feel about yourself to others, it can also be used to "trick" yourself into feeling better. Take a moment to sit up straight in your chair or stand up in a "Super Hero" pose (hands on hips... or fist to the sky if it makes you happy) and see how it instantly lifts your mood.
3. Take a Skills Inventory
Everyone is good at something. Perhaps you were born with an amazing eye for design or the ability to make anyone feel comfortable and heard. Spend some time identifying what it is that makes you special and what you are extremely good at. Then, write down a few of the skills you want to develop.
4. Accept that you Aren't Perfect
If you go into your search for self-confidence expecting that you'll be amazing at everything you do the very first time you do it, you're bound to be disappointed. No one is good at everything (despite what their social media suggests) and assuming this is the case will just set you up for failure.
Once you identify some skills that you want to learn to get ahead in your career or your life, find a way to acquire them rather than just beating yourself up for not having them.
5. Be Grateful for You
You may not be perfect, but you are wonderful. Celebrate who you are and what makes you different, and be grateful for it!
6. Compliment Others
Giving compliments to other people can be surprisingly difficult when you aren't feeling great about yourself. After all, you're comparing yourself to them and feeling as if you don't measure up.
Instead of seeing the characteristics you admire in others and feeling bad about yourself, give them a genuine compliment and realize that you see this in others because deep down, you yourself have these characteristics. You just have to bring them to the surface.
Another benefit of genuine compliments is that when you give them, the receiver is likely to share something positive that they see in you.
7. Compliment Yourself
Speak nicely to yourself. Stand in front of the mirror and give yourself a compliment every day. Play with "I am" statements that reinforce positive messages you'd like to give yourself. It gets easier with time, and the more you speak kindly to yourself, the more you're likely to internalize it.
8. Set Realistic Goals
The best goals stretch your capabilities, however, they also need to have realistic time frames. What do you want to accomplish at work? How about in your personal life? Setting (and then working towards) your goals is a great way to build up your self-confidence and prove to yourself that you really can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Goals should stretch your capabilities. They should also have realistic time frames. If you set the goal of writing the Great American Novel by the end of the month when you've never written a sentence before, you're positioning yourself for failure. If you give yourself a year or two to write it and create smaller goals along the way such as taking a writing class, creating an outline, and writing for an hour each day, you'll eventually reach your goal, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to celebrate success along the way.
9. Visualize What Success Looks Like
When you are Self-Confident, what will that look like? What will it feel like? What difference will it make in your life? Take some time to paint the picture in your mind and uncover what self-confidence looks like in your world.
10. Go For It
Fear is never going away. No matter what you attempt in your life, there will always be a fear of failure, of looking foolish, and sometimes even of success. The people who project self-confidence and reach their goals aren't exempt from fear, they've just found a way to move forward in spite of it.
Identify what type of fear is at play, and acknowledge that it's there. Thank the fear for wanting to keep you safe... and then go after your dreams anyway.
11. Surround Yourself with a Cheer Squad
While it's absolutely essential to be your own cheerleader, you'll have to scream twice as loud if the other people around you don't support what you're doing.
There will always be negative people in our lives that we can't quite banish. We can minimize our contact with them while spending more time with supportive, affirming people that want to see us succeed. Find the friends and family that will support your goals and your new attitude, and surround yourself with their positivity.
12. Learn from your Mistakes
Remember how we said that you won't be perfect at everything the first time you do it? Rather than dissolving into a puddle of "I stink at... therefore, I'm a terrible person," realize that you will fail many times on the way to success. After each "failure," identify what you needed to have done differently, ways to have prepared better, and what you will do in the future to prevent the same outcome.
13. Own Up to your Mistakes
There's nothing worse than a leader who refuses to accept that they've done anything wrong. If your actions affected anyone else, admit to your mistakes honestly (though no need to beat yourself up) and calmly communicate what will be different going forward.
14. Go For It Again
All the learning in the world won't matter if you don't work towards your goals again. If you want to rebuild confidence after something didn't turn out the way you wanted, shake off the disappointment and get back to work.
Having a strong sense of self-confidence is essential to living a full life and managing a team in or out of the office. With some soul searching and some hard work, you'll be able to bolster up your confidence and go after the business and personal dreams that you've always wanted.