A Closer Look At Confidence
We tend to think of confidence as something someone “has”. We say he/she is a confident person, as if they are always confident at all times. Or I may tell you that I am not a confident person. But is this really accurate? Does a person just have a certain level of confidence? Is it simply a part of a person’s makeup?
If we look closer and carefully observe others we realize that this is not the case. I can be very confident about making a great cup of coffee but not at all confident about public speaking. I can be completely certain that I can play a beautiful guitar solo and just as certain that I will fail at playing a piano solo. Confidence is not something we simply have, it is not a character trait. Confidence is a feeling of certainty. It is a feeling. And, just like any other feeling, with a little practice you can learn to bring it about at will.
Now, obviously there are limits to confidence. If I am confident that I can jump off a bridge and float down like a feather, I am in for a rude awakening. However, confidence can be a very powerful ally and is crucial to success in all aspects of life. Confidence can make or break a public speech or presentation. When interviewing, there are few things more important than confidence. It is very difficult to attract a mate without confidence. If you are about to, for example, give a public speech, you will be much more successful if you speak, move, stand and gesture with confidence. The audience will not only see it, they will feel it too. We can hear confidence in someone’s voice over the phone.
But wait, you might say, doesn’t confidence have to be earned? Doesn’t your confidence need to be based on previous success? Don’t you need a reason to believe you will excel at something? The answer is no. Confidence is a feeling and you don’t need to have a logical reason to support this feeling. Of course, prior success can enhance your feelings of confidence, but you don’t actually have to have a history of success to feel confident. You can create a feeling of confidence at any time. Remember, confidence is the feeling that you are sure you can succeed (not to be confused with arrogance, which is a belief that you are better than others).
You can bring about a state of confidence at will. Here are 5 techniques which can help you to do this.
1) Speak With Confidence
When you feel confident you will speak confidently. It can also work the other way around. Speak with confidence and you can bring about a state of confidence. At first it may feel as if you are faking, but with repetition, your subconscious mind will become convinced that you truly are confident. At this point, you have actually become confident.
Your tone of voice is important, but so are the words you use. Imagine you ask someone to do something for you. One person responds, “Um, ok, I guess I can give it a shot” while the other tells you, “No problem, I’ll get it done.” Who do you place more confidence in? Choose your words carefully and use words of confidence.
Not sure how to speak confidently? It’s easy to learn. Find someone who you know is confident and model them.
Think you will feel strange or like a phony? No problem! Learn about faking it til you become it.
2) Move With Confidence
A person who is nervous and shy stands very differently than someone who is confident. They sit differently. They walk, move and gesture differently. A confident person stands tall, they have the facial expression of confidence and they move with certainty and purpose. We can all picture confidence.
Let’s try something. Go ahead now and get yourself into a state of doubt and nervousness. Sit the way you would sit if you felt this way. Recall a time when you felt this way and notice what happens to your shoulders, your head, your face. Walk around and observe yourself. Now do the opposite with confidence. Stand the way you would stand if you were completely unstoppable. Walk and gesture the way you would if you knew you could never fail.
Just like the first technique, it is helpful to observe people who are confident. Carefully observe how they stand, move and gesture. What do they do with their hands? How about their eyes? Watch and model them.
3) Visualize Confidence
Take some time to sit down and consciously visualize yourself full of confidence. Imagine yourself confidently making that sale, giving a speech, attracting the person of your dreams or successfully lobbying for a raise. For example, before giving a presentation or performance of some kind, create the image in your mind of you succeeding. Imagine how it will feel to confidently give a presentation. See the crowd hang on your every word and give you a standing ovation. Really let yourself feel how it feels. Researchers have found that basketball players can actually increase the percentage of shots they make by first visualizing successful shooting. Why not use this to enhance your confidence and your certainty of success?
4) Recall a Time When You Were Confident
Write down some of your greatest successes or think about a time when you were full of confidence. Close your eyes and recall as much of that situation as you can. Remember how you felt. If you’ve ever felt confident before, you can bring back that feeling again at will. Mentally get yourself back into that same state of when you felt confident. A memory of confidence is something you can call upon at any time to help quickly boost your confidence.
Darren Lacroix is a professional speaker who previously won the extremely competitive Toastmasters International speech contest. Prior to giving a speech he would listen to three songs that pumped him up and made him feel unstoppable. Think of a song or two that makes you feel strong and confident when you listen to it. We all know that music can affect our mood. So why not use it to your advantage? Right before you need to perform at your best, listen to a song that pumps you full of confidence and power.
Just a note on being prepared –These techniques are not intended to replace preparation, they are to enhance your confidence. Being prepared is one of the greatest ways to feel confident and a lack or preparation can kill any confidence. Now, go build your confidence! I know you can do it and soon you will too.