What You Can Do to Be More Confident in Life
If you’ve always wanted to be a more confident version of yourself, have no fear. Check out our 9 suggestions on how you can develop your confidence here.
Published 29 Aug 2017
What do squash queen Dato’ Nicol David, Hollywood actress Tan Sri Dato’ Michelle Yeoh, comedian Harith Iskander and national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei have in common?
Apart from being some of Malaysia’s most prominent figures, they each carry themselves with a great deal of confidence to put themselves on the world map for the things they enjoy doing.
If you’d like to embody that sort of confidence for yourself, what are some of the things that you can do to develop it? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
#1. Use positive phrases
Confident people speak with certainty and use positive, reinforced words such as “I can” and “I’m sure”, suggesting that they are assured of themselves (though, hopefully not in a manner that comes across as arrogant!).
For example, if you have a part-time job as a barista at a cafe and a customer comes back to you with a complaint about her latte, use phrases such as, “I can help you with that!” instead of, “I’ll try and see what I can do,” as it may give a positive impact on how your message is received by the disgruntled customer.
So, whether you’re giving a presentation or rallying your teammates in a group project, always make positive statements as meaningful phrases presented assertively and positively tend to evoke trust from your audience.
During a presentation, avoid using negative statements such as “I’m not sure” or “I think”. If you’re faced with a pressing question, use neutral words such as “to my knowledge” or “based on my understanding” to inspire confidence and trust in your audience.
#2. Dress for success
Research suggest that people judge you within seconds of meeting you. Hence, it’s vital to make a good first impression.
So, if you’re about to go for an inter-college debate competition, you wouldn’t wow the judges or intimidate your competitors by wearing a wrinkled shirt or by not taming your messy hair. As Richard Branson says, “You literally don’t get a second chance, so make sure you leave a favourable impact the first time around.”
Instead, wear something that makes you look and feel good as it can affect your mental and physical performance. After all, when you feel good about yourself, your actions will also reflect your state of mind.
Always plan your outfits ahead of time, especially when an important event, such as a presentation, is looming. Also, practise giving your presentation in the clothes you’ll be wearing. If a particular dress or colour makes you feel powerful, then go for it!
#3. Find your inner zen
If you’re constantly bogged down by negative thoughts, you’ll never be in the right frame of mind to grow and develop your confidence. However, positive thinking may help you achieve that.
Research suggests that positive thinking can “open your mind” to the possibilities of growing your skill set (i.e. you’ll be open to developing new skills). Additionally, good thoughts can positively affect your behaviour which in return, improve your confidence.
Cultivate positive thinking by checking in with yourself throughout the day to evaluate what you’re thinking. Additionally, relax and learn to laugh at the little things in life (like cat videos on YouTube).
With constant practice, you’ll experience less self-criticism and more self-approval!
#4. Surround yourself with positive people
According to Northwestern University neuroscientist Moran Cerf, we tend to pick up the behaviours of people we spend time with, which makes it important to surround ourselves with the right type of people.
So, if you want to be more confident and charismatic, surround yourself with family and friends who exude such traits. Additionally, socialising with people who support you may also help you develop your confidence.
Their positive reinforcements and assurance can boost your self-esteem, especially in instances where you might be striving to achieve a personal goal such as losing weight.
#5. Make time for exercise
Confident people make the time to exercise regularly because they know the importance of moving and getting healthy!
Whether it’s brisk walking or hitting the gym, exercise can improve your mood as endorphins (also known as “happy hormones”) are released into your body when you are physically active. Additionally, working out helps tone your body, which can help you feel good about yourself.
#6. Slow down when you speak
Did you know that the world’s fastest speaker is Steve Woodmore, holding the Guinness Book of World Records for speaking 637 words per minute?
Amazing as that is, speaking fast can be overrated — it makes your listeners work twice as hard to catch what you’re saying, and it may even depict nervousness.
Conversely, speaking slowly allows you to think before you speak. This is especially helpful when answering questions during a stressful period, such as a job interview.
Speaking in a calm and composed manner may also help you keep those nerves in check!
#7. Imitate influential speakers
One of the best ways to boost your confidence is by imitating confident or influential speakers. For example, if you’ll be delivering a presentation in college, you can improve your public speaking skills by watching TED Talk speakers on YouTube, observing how they speak and address their audience.
You can also apply some public speaking tricks into daily conversations. The latter might be more spontaneous and informal, but observing traits such as your audience’s feedback after speaking and letting your personality shine through can help you come across as a sincere and confident person.
Draw some inspiration on speaking better by watching these top 10 famous speeches on YouTube or the speech that made Barack Obama America's 44th president.
#8. Strike a power pose
Research suggests that engaging in a “power pose” increases your body’s testosterone levels, which can lead to an increased feeling of confidence.
But what exactly is a power pose? A power pose includes open and expansive postures such as standing with your legs apart and hands on the hips (think Wonder Woman and Beyoncé).
Harvard professor Amy Cuddy claims that just 2 minutes in a power pose is enough to give you a confidence boost! No harm trying, right?
Just like practising for a presentation in clothes that make you comfortable, consider practising some power poses to find which works for you.
#9. Fake it till you make it
Have you ever been in a situation that you made you quiver? Perhaps it was orientation day during college when you didn’t know anyone, or that time in school when you tried out for the cheerleading squad but immediately regretted it because you didn’t think you were good enough?
According to Harvard professor Amy Cuddy, “fake it till you make it” involves tricking yourself into being more confident than you ordinarily would be, and not about tricking other people. Hence, this allows you to approach different situations with more confidence.
She adds that the more you behave confidently despite not actually feeling confident, the more your body and mind reinforce it.
Although it might feel artificial and forced in the beginning, with practice, you’ll soon be a natural.
Check out some scientifically-backed fake-it-till-you-make-it strategies you can adopt, including smiling and mimicking good leaders here.
Just like happiness, confidence is a lifelong journey that builds as you go along.
While our suggestions may help you improve your confidence, it’s important to note that no matter you do, there are bound to be people in life who will try to bring you down. In such instances, it’s worth remembering this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
So, regardless of your progress, you’re still ahead of everyone who isn’t trying!