I used to be so shy when it comes to social interaction, making friends and that sort of things because I was afraid of what others might think. I’d avoid social functions because I feel intimidated being around people whom I know is going to ask about me and my life.
But today, I really really LOVE talking to people. The thing is, I was never like that. And being confident is not something that comes out normally for most of us.
Today I’m going to teach you how to be confident. Why? Because being confident is one of life’s important skills. But first, some stories!
Back when I was growing up in Singapore, I used to hate English classes. Why? Because my teacher used to do this thing where she’ll randomly pick one of us (and it’s just coincidental it’ll be the quietest in the room AKA me) and tell us to read a paragraph or two from our book. Worse, we had to actually stand up, go to the front of the classroom and speak up. I will always find an excuse to leave the classroom whenever possible so she won’t pick me.
What if I pronounce a word wrong? What if I sound funny and the rest of the class is going to laugh at me? What if I trip and fall on the way to the front OH MY GOD!
My confidence levels back then was zilch. Pretty much zero. I can’t even sit or be in public places alone because I was too afraid of what people might think of me. This fear of being afraid of what people might think of me led me to an even bigger fear of talking to people, particularly strangers. Perhaps you might not have the same level of fear like I once had but I’m sure at some point in your life you can relate to this.
Now I’m not teaching you this stuffs so you can be a sleazy pick-up artist. I’m teaching you this because I believe that self-confidence is one of the most important life skill you should learn. Not only it is important in approaching people, it’s needed in everyday situations like buying a car, negotiating a raise, giving a presentation or even meeting you partner’s family for the first time.
Here are six simple things you can do to be more confident instantly.
1. Stop slouching.
This is easier said than done and I’m guilty of it too. Up until very recently, I haven’t been aware of my posture because I’m so used to slouching. Having a bad posture can not only bring about lower back pain but if you’re walking and looking down, chances are you’re going to appear unconfident. Here’s what you can do:
– Stand up as tall as you can and pretend there is someone pulling a string up which is attached to your head.
– Pull you shoulder blades as far back as you can. I know it might sound and feel weird but this brings your chest up and limits the roundness of your upper back.
– Keep you chin up, look ahead and straight in front of you. You know how people tell you to keep your chin up when something bad just happened? Yes, put that literally and you got it.
The bad thing is, in fitness, most of us tend to develop poor posture through training. For example, if we do too much chest strengthening exercises. I know so many fit people who have rounded shoulders. Due to gravity, the rounded shoulders will pull your head and body downward, making it seem like you’re always looking down.
The good news is, we can also fix our posture through fitness. Instead of focusing too much on chest exercises, try to do more exercises that targets your upper back like lat pull downs and dumbbell rows. Strengthen your core by doing exercises such as planks to make it solid stable, giving you strength in your lower back.
While bad posture may seem inevitable especially if you have a desk bound job, it’s not irreversible. Try to be aware of the way you sit and stand and make a concrete effort to change your posture for at least a month. Over time you don’t even have to think about it and you’ll appear more confident instantly.
2. Smile and smile some more.
People nowadays don’t smile as often as they can, and should, but we are going to be awesome and change that. I love to smile, to an extent that my friends think it’s weird smiling to random strangers in the lifts or at the shops. I mean, what is wrong with that?
Smiling is a gift we should really spread more of. I’m not talking about creepy or fake smiles you pass on to your barista every morning, I’m talking about the genuine ones. How can you tell if you’re smiling genuinely? Do this:
– Look in the mirror, close your eyes and slowly look down.
– Slowly bring your head up, open your eyes and smile. Ta da! That’s a beautiful, charming and seriously genuine smile you’ve given yourself.
Now go out there and spread your beauty to more people and immediately be confident.
3. Slow down when you’re talking.
I am absolutely terrified of public speaking once upon a time even though I tell myself that I am seriously awesome.
One time in high school, I had to deliver a speech in front of the whole school, to both the juniors and seniors. I wanted people to vote for me as House Captain. I was terribly nervous so I told my best friend that I will constantly glance at her to calm myself down. At the start of the speech, I looked at her once and she murmured to me “Slow down!”. So I paused, took a deep breath and slowed down (and it made the difference considering how I got the Captain role!)
This applies to not only in speech but in daily lives when you’re talking to people around you. Practice makes perfect and don’t forget to breathe! It may seem like we’re talking snail slow in our heads but on the outside it’s the perfect speed you’re after to sound more confident. Try it.
4. Learn how to receive positive praises.
Remember this: if you’ve earned something, it means you deserved it. Yes I know that occasionally you might think you’ve landed a big gig because you got lucky. But for most part of life, people achieve something because they’ve worked for it. It’s easy to just absorb all the negative talks from people around you and yet dismiss all the positive praises.
Don’t do that.
Learn how to receive praises and know that you deserved them. I’m not telling you to start having a huge head and tell everyone around about your achievements and how big you’ve become. Stay humble but don’t ignore the praises. A simple thank you and a smile would suffice. If you’ve done a great job and people tell you that, recycle it into your confidence bin and use it over and over again. If you’ve managed to capture their hearts once, you can do it again.
5. Don’t look away when people stare at you.
How many times have we caught someone looking at us and then we flinch by looking down? You’ve probably done that, as much as I have. Now I’m not talking about the people in the trains that stares at you creepily (same note on smiles too). I’m talking about those people you’ve probably have a consistent amount of contact during the week.
If you’re reading this and you work in an office, then chances are, you meet and speak with several random people throughout the day. Like the girl from the other department at the water cooler. The waiter at lunch. Your co-workers.
Even if you’re working from home like I am, go out there some time and sit in a cafe while doing work. Once you’re there, try and spot someone round the corner and look at them. Think of it as a mini-battle. As long as you’re smiling and blinking, you won’t be classified as a creep. Keep looking until they look away. Practise that and over time, you will probably interact with so many more people than you ever did your whole lives. That’s a big boost to your confidence instantly. Just don’t start a fight.
6. Quit thinking negative.
Lastly and most importantly, get the negative thoughts out of your head. This may seem weird but there are times when I feel like I’m still the same girl with the short boyish centre parting hair I once had in high school, although I’m definitely a different person now and that was literally yonks ago. If you’ve recently been through a transformation, like you’ve lost a ton of weight and body fat, and look physically different, I know it’s hard to tune your mind to the new person that you are now. I personally know clients who comes up to me and say “I wish my confidence had a new transformation too!”. Well now you can.
I find that the only one certain way to get the negative ‘old’ thoughts out of your mind is to stop thinking about it. If you’ve changed, you’re different now. Tell yourself that you’re not carrying so much weight around and that you deserve to be heard and acknowledged. If you’ve spent ages preparing for a talk or presentation, don’t waste hours in the day being nervous about it. Instead occupy yourself and your mind with something else and just tackle head on when it’s time for you to go.
My friend Vincent at SelfStairway.com even mentions about faking it until you make it. Faking confidence can make people treat you better, converting it into real confidence.
If you’re looking at a guy or a girl you like, don’t take up more than three seconds before starting to make the move. I had to email A-list bloggers and companies to help them with my blog launch and I found some very very nice people around.
Another thing about confidence? Just ask. The answer is always no if you don’t ask. Ask that cute guy out. Ask for favours. Ask away. And you’ll find that with practise, you will be more confident to achieve anything you’ve possibly dreamed of.
Here’s to you…
I have a mission for you. As you follow these 6 steps, I assure you will feel more confident about yourself. Gaining confidence takes time, like everything else, and starting small and building up is the way to go. But here’s a little homework for you.
Walk down the street with good posture (chin up, head high and shoulders back while standing tall) and wear a huge genuine smile on your face. If you think that’s impossible, you can watch this video here. It makes me happy every time I see it.
Now your task is – I want you to make eye contact with at least 5 random strangers. Remember they have to be the first to look away first, not you. Once you’ve got that sorted, I want you to make eye contact with a further 5 random strangers, but this time, say hi to them.
I know you might think I’m being silly and it would probably be crazy awkward but trust me with this. Unless you really have creepy eyes, you’ll probably make a few new acquaintances and perhaps make someone’s day. Best thing is? You’ll feel more confident in your own skin, which is what this post and lesson is about right?
Alright now, go ahead. Seize the day and opportunity to be a more confident version of yourself. You’ve got this, and like everything else, I believe in you. Truly.
Have an awesome weekend.