HOW TO BECOME MORE CONFIDENT
Self-confidence – how you measure your abilities and skills – isn't quite the same thing as self-
esteem, which is how you value yourself as a person. But it is something that people often say
they would like to have more of.
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Whether your self-confidence needs a major boost or just a bit of a top-up, here are some tips to
get you started:
1. Recognise your strengths
Think about how good you feel when someone praises you and shows their appreciation for
something you've said or done. Praise is a great confidence booster, but you don't always have
to rely on others for it.
Give yourself a big pat on the back by thinking about all the things you do well, especially things
you do better than others. Make a list if it helps. Include things such as your skills, qualifications
and contacts. Then when you've finished, make a note of your best achievements. Be as
objective as you can – if you're struggling, try to see yourself through someone else's eyes.
What would they say you do well, or see as your greatest achievements?
And if a project has just gone badly, focus on an element what went well, as well as learning
from the experience this provided. You can then focus on how you have grown as an individual
and how future projects will be better.
2. Tackle stress
Managing stress is essential if you want to feel confident. If you give into it, you're more likely to
experience negative thoughts – which is something you should avoid if you want more self-
confidence. Learning to control stress, on the other hand, can make you feel you have control
over your life, which itself can be very empowering.
There are lots of things you can do to manage your stress levels more effectively. Taking
regular exercise can help, since exercise releases 'relaxing' hormones called endorphins. Being
active can also give you a boost by taking your mind off any thoughts that might be chipping
away at your self-confidence. So try going for a walk at lunchtime instead of working through
with a sandwich. You could also consider taking up a relaxing activity such as yoga or t'ai chi,
both of which may help you feel calmer.
Meditation is also recommended as a way of reducing stress. Mindful meditation, which aims to
make you more aware of what's happening in the present moment, is recommended by a
growing number of experts these days. Try it yourself by reading our article Managing stress
3. Do your homework
Many people, even those who normally feel sure of themselves, find their self-confidence flies
out of the window whenever they're faced with certain situations – making a speech, for
instance, or going for a job interview. Being as fully prepared for the event as possible is the key
to overcoming performance nerves. For example, if you're taking an exam, make sure you do
your studying and revising in plenty of time. Or if you're going for a job interview, find out as
much as you can about the company and the position you're applying for well ahead of the day
itself (read Top ten interview tips for more advice).
If you've done your homework and have all the information you need to do well, it can work
wonders for your confidence.
4. Practise resilience
People with bags of self-confidence are rarely put off when they confront obstacles or when
things don't go according to plan. Instead, they embrace new challenges because they aren't
constantly defining themselves by their failures. That way, if they do fail at something, they are
much more likely to consider it as a learning experience than feel despondent about it.
Learning to be more resilient at work and at home means you may be able to cope better with
most of the things life throws at you – and that in itself can give your self-confidence a huge
For plenty of tips on building your resilience, read our articles 10 ways to boost your work
resilience and Guide to coping with change and boosting resilience.
5. Try something new
You won't do your confidence levels much good if you never try new things. Sticking with what
seems safe and familiar is all very well, but developing self-confidence requires taking some
risks, if only to learn how not to let things get you down when you don't succeed. Overcoming
the fear of failure can be a major confidence builder, but you'll never achieve if you never step
out of your comfort zone.
Start by tackling something small – whether it's work-related or a personal challenge. And if
things don't work out as you'd expected, remind yourself that you're still one step closer to
6. Act confident
If all else fails, fake it. Even if you don't feel particularly confident, act as if you are. You may be
pleasantly surprised at how positively it can affect people's reactions to you. Make sure your
body language is confident: stand tall, relax your shoulders and hold your head up. Remember
to keep good eye contact with others and smile – that way, people will see you as someone
who's relaxed and feeling sure of yourself.
There's another good reason why you should practise faking confidence. Many experts also
believe the more you practise acting as if you have lots of self-confidence, the more it will
increase your real confidence levels.
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