First things first: Confidence is not bravado, or swagger, or an overt pretense of bravery. Confidence is not some bold or brash air of self-belief directed at others.
Confidence is quiet: It’s a natural expression of ability, expertise, and self-regard.
1. They take a stand. But they take a stand because they know they need to state their position so everyone is clear, not because think they are always right.
Cocky and conceited people tend to take a position and then proclaim, bluster, and totally disregard differing opinions or points of view. They know they’re right – and they want (actually they need) you to know it too.
Their behavior isn’t a sign of confidence, though; it’s the hallmark of an intellectual bully.
Truly confident people don’t mind being proven wrong. In fact, they look for information that might prove them wrong. They feel finding out what is right is a lot more important than being right. And when they’re wrong, they’re secure enough to back down graciously.
Truly confident people often admit they’re wrong or don’t have all the answers; intellectual bullies never do.
2. They listen ten times more than they speak.
They say we have two eyes and two ears but only one mouth and we should use them in that proportion.
Truly confident people are quiet and unassuming. They already know what they think; they want to know what you think.
So they ask open-ended questions that give other people the freedom to be thoughtful and introspective: They ask what you do, how you do it, what you like about it, what you learned from it… and what they should do if they find themselves in a similar situation.
Truly confident people realize they know a lot, but they wish they knew more… and they know the only way to learn more is to listen more.
3. They duck the spotlight so it shines on others.
Perhaps it’s true they did the bulk of the work. Perhaps they really did overcome the major obstacles. Perhaps it’s true they turned a collection of disparate individuals into an incredibly high performance team.
Truly confident people don’t care – at least they don’t show it. (Inside they’re proud, as well they should be.) Truly confident people don’t need the glory; they know what they’ve achieved.
They don’t need the validation of others, because true validation comes from within.
So they stand back and celebrate their accomplishments through others. They stand back and let others shine – a confidence boost that helps those people become truly confident, too.
4. They freely ask for help. And give help whenever it is asked for.
Many people feel asking for help is a sign of weakness; implicit in the request is a lack of knowledge, skill, or experience.
Confident people are secure enough to admit a weakness. So they often ask others for help, not only because they are secure enough to admit they need help but also because they know that when they seek help they pay the person they ask a huge compliment.
Saying, “Can you help me?” shows tremendous respect for that individual’s expertise and judgment. Otherwise you wouldn’t ask.
5. They think, “Why not me?” They think I could get “lucky.” They think “Why not try.”
Confident People tend to think that much of success is simply showing up. Once in the game anything can happen. Confident people simply try more often. It is not that they absolutely believe they are more skillful or experienced than the competition, it is that they believe that they could be.
And very quietly, without calling attention to themselves, they go out and do it.
6. They Respect others.
Generally speaking, the people who like to gossip, who like to speak badly of others, do so because they hope by comparison to make themselves look better.
The only comparison a truly confident person makes is to the person she was yesterday – and to the person she hopes to someday become.
Confident people understand that anyone can have a new good idea. And anyone can have actionable information. Confident people recognize that respecting others is critical to get good information from them.
7. They aren’t afraid to look silly…
Life is an average. If on average you are not silly then most people that know you will know you are not silly. One instance of being silly does not a silly person make.
And, confident people are not afraid to make mistakes that may make them look silly. All experiences should be learning experiences. And having the experience is about experimenting, and looking silly sometimes.
8. … They own their mistakes.
Insecurity tends to breed artificiality; confidence breeds sincerity and honesty.
That’s why truly confident people admit their mistakes. They dine out on their screw-ups. They don’t mind serving as a cautionary tale. They don’t mind being a source of laughter – for others and for themselves.
When you’re truly confident, you don’t mind occasionally “looking bad.” You realize that that when you’re genuine and unpretentious, people don’t laugh at you.
They laugh with you.
9. They embrace “Honesty” is a life style
Being honest with yourself and others is a skill that truly confident people have embraced as a total life style.
The age old question of “does this dress make me look fat” is not a problem for a confident person. A confident person would only ask that question if they could accept a “yes” response. And a a confident person could answer “yes” if that is what they really thought.
Being honest with yourself gives you the confidence to know what you don’t know. Being honest with others gives you the confidence to not have to worry about remembering the lies you may have told.
10. They Experiment
Malcome Gladwell talks about how successful people often spend 20,000 hours practicing their craft before they can successful. The key here is those 20,000 hours are spent experimenting. Confident people are confident because they have often made a lot of mistakes.