We admire self-confident people. These are the people who walk into a room and simply inspire confidence in others. They do not waiver when facing a problem, but tackle it head on instead. Many people believe self-confidence is an inherited trait but that’s far from the truth. Studies have shown that we can improve our self-confidence. In the following article, I will present scientifically-proven ways to become more confident.
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You might be wondering why we started this list with nonverbal communication. Well, scientists believe that nonverbal communication constitutes up to 70% of what we communicate to others. And since most of our daily interactions are brief – buying coffee, talking to a customer, passing someone on the street – mastering our nonverbal communication skills will improve the way people see us. There are four types of nonverbal communication elements you should be aware of – kinesics, proxemics, chronemics, and paralanguage. Let’s take a quick look at each of them.
Kinesics studies body movements. Our gestures, facial expressions, posture, and eye behavior say a lot about who we are.
Gestures express how we feel. We gesture more when we are excited, energized, or enthusiastic. We gesture less often when we’re nervous, demoralized, or concerned about the impression we’re making.
Facial expressions provide valuable clues about how we feel. The look on our faces and the way we hold our heads can show approval, disapproval, and even disbelief. Most cultures can recognize the look of happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, and disgust on another’s face.
Posture is a good clue to our attitude. Leaning toward a person conveys a favorable attitude while leaning backward communicates the opposite. Slouching is usually interpreted as a lack of self-confidence while standing erect is seen as a confidence indicator.
Eye contact is an important nonverbal cue. Eye contact signals the beginning and the end of a conversation and it reflects our interest and attention. Our eyes also communicate our emotions and it can reflect on the type of communication between the speakers.
Proxemics studies the way people perceive and use space. This might not seem important at a first glance, but the way we use the space around us can say a lot about us. Space is often used to indicate social status – people who are willing to pay more for an airplane ticket get to enjoy a comfortable ride, office managers have better offices than employees of lower status, and so on.
Chronemics studies the use of time as a nonverbal communicator. Being late for a meeting could convey different messages depending on the context. A person might want to arrive late to reaffirm their superiority in front of subordinates. Another person might arrive late due to carelessness or lack of ambition.
Paralanguage studies speech variation as a nonverbal communicator. The way we talk can leave a lasting impression. Our voice quality, pitch, volume, and tempo can communicate more than our words do. Saying something while laughing can communicate a different message from saying the same thing while yawning.
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Now that you know what you should be aware of, let’s take some small changes that will change the way people perceive you.
You’re surely aware you shouldn’t judge a book by its covers. Well, that saying exists because people actually judge books by their cover. The truth is, we can’t help it. Humans are visual creatures. We value our sight, and up to 30% of our brain is dedicated to our vision.
This concept is also true on how we react to people. We are more interested in attractive people. Attractive people are considered more positively by their peers, and this is especially true for males. But we don’t just judge people on their looks, we also judge them by the way they present themselves. And that is something we can control. Here’s how:
While power poses can improve our self-confidence, there are some poses that can make us feel powerless. We should avoid slouching, hugging ourselves, or sitting with our hands between our legs, as these poses are most likely to lead to insecurity.
Understanding and applying some principles of paralanguage can significantly improve the way other people perceive us. Since more of what we communicate comes from how we speak and how we act while speaking, we should improve our communication skills to ensure we convey the right message. The easier we communicate with people, the better we’ll feel about ourselves. Here’s how we can improve our communication skills:
Mastering nonverbal communication can improve our self-confidence and influence how others perceive us. But we can also engage in certain habits that can train our self-confidence.
This is probably the best advice anyone could offer. Many people have confidence problems because they are surrounded by negativity. Sometimes, our friends and family can have a negative influence on how we see ourselves. If you feel that one or multiple people are pulling you down, try interrupting your relationship. Even a temporary break from a negative influence can improve our self-confidence.
We should stop focusing on the problems we face in life, and start focusing on their solutions. We should come up with plans that can make positive changes in our lives.
Staying positive is often easier said than done, but it can be very rewarding. People can easily identify positive enthusiasm, and they perceive it as a confidence marker. When it comes to positivity, those who fake it until they make it will most likely succeed.
Everything has a solution. True, some things do not have easy solutions, but they have solutions nonetheless. Nobody wants to be remembered as the one who threw in the towel, so don’t do it. Don’t throw it in. Instead of giving in, make a detailed plan on how to overcome your adversity.
Negative thoughts often lead to a low self-confidence because we repeat them in our heads until they become a sort of mantra. We are constantly bashing ourselves over our failures. Instead of preaching our failures, we should preach our plan to overcome them.
Learn everything there is to know about your adversity, whether it’s related to your job or your personal life. The knowledge will allow you to make a detailed plan on how to overcome it. And once you do, your self-confidence will soar.
Our brains are wired to reward us when we achieve something. When we tick something off our to-do list, our brain releases dopamine – a neurotransmitter – into our bloodstream.
Dopamine has multiple roles in the human body, but it’s often called “the happiness molecule” because of the role it plays in our reward-behavior mechanism.
When we achieve something, our brain releases more dopamine to reward us. But the interesting thing is, our brain doesn’t discriminate. It will release dopamine whether we wash the dishes or win the Olympics.
So, the best thing we can do for our mental health is to tap into this feel-good resource. One of the best ways to do it is to create lists. We enjoy lists. When we create lists, we can visualize our goals, no matter how small.
Set a goal you know you can achieve – to do 30 crunches, to take out the trash, to wash the car – anything really, and achieve it. You will feel good about it. Now, create a list of 20 small goals you can achieve in a day. The more you achieve, the better you’ll feel.
The best thing about this technique is that it teaches us that nothing is impossible. We start by setting small goals, and then we set bigger ones until we manage to achieve something we’ve always wanted. Achieving small goals might seem insignificant at first, but it will actually build our confidence so we can try something more important.
No matter how much we enjoy our lives, we can always improve something. Most people are aware small changes can drastically improve one’s life, but they fail to see how they could benefit from the same changes.
Try making a small change once in a while. Drink a glass of water instead of a sugary drink after dinner. Wake up 10 minutes earlier than usual. Read before sleep instead of browsing social media. Do the same thing for a month and see how you feel.
We don’t need to make drastic changes to improve our lives. Small changes will do, as long as we make them consistently. And when we accomplish something, we’ll feel like a million bucks.
Inactivity is harmful to our self-confidence. Our brains are wired to release dopamine when we achieve something, so doing nothing is not stimulating. We should always try to get involved in as many activities as possible.
Most people avoid doing new things because they’re afraid of failure. But making mistakes is what makes us human. Just think about it, life is actually a series of mistakes and improvement.
We don’t know how to walk when we come into the world, but every time we fall we get up and try again until we learn. Everything we know – walking, eating, reading, calculating, and maybe even kissing – started as something we didn’t know how to do but improved over time.
We shouldn’t be afraid of the unknown. Only when learning can we discover the true limits of our potential.
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Kindness can improve our self-esteem. Studies have shown that people who engage in acts of selflessness are often the ones who benefit the most from it.
Over the years, generosity has been shown to help with depression, improve our physical health, and even increase our lifespan.
But it seems that generosity can do wonders for our self-esteem. Generosity is a confidence booster because it reassures us we can do good and have a positive impact. When we focus on what we give, we create an outward orientation toward the people around us.
By switching our focus from ourselves to those around us, we become more self-aware of our problems and sensitivity. This leads to an increase of positive thoughts which act as repellants for self-hatred.
Being generous diverts our attention from our critical inner voice and creates positive arguments against it. By seeing someone else benefiting from our actions, we realize we’re worth more than we had previously believed.
There are even some scientifically-backed guidelines we could follow to make sure we benefit from our generosity:
Being generous and accepting generosity can significantly improve our self-confidence. By making a lifestyle out of generosity, we can improve ourselves and the world at the same time.
Improving our self-confidence is not only possible, it’s also easy. If we want to be more confident, we have to be willing to put in the work. However, we should keep in mind that taking small steps in the right direction is always better than not heading there at all.