Confidence seems like something you either come into or you don’t. Most of us fall into the latter category of the supposedly “not confident.” But what if confidence was something you could easily act yourself into? This article will teach you how to act confident even when you don’t feel it.
1. Be Willing To Laugh At Your Mistakes
The difference between confident and non-confident people is not that confident people don’t make mistakes—far from it. Confident people make mistakes all the time. It’s human nature. So why does it look like they always say or do the right thing effortlessly?
The difference is a person’s willingness to laugh at their mistakes. If you’ve ever seen a confident person drop something, forget a name, or say one thing when they meant another, you’ll notice that immediately after, they point out their mistake and joke or laugh about it.
And suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, does it? They draw you into laughing with them, prompt you to say something like, “Yeah, I do that all the time,” and now they’re one of the most relatable and easygoing people to talk to.
“Oh, but they’ve never fallen face-first in front of their crush or spilled a drink all over their pants at work,” you counter. Maybe they have? If they did, then pointed it out and cracked a joke right after, everyone involved probably had a good laugh with them (no at them) then offered to help because, well, that’s such a relatable situation and could happen to anyone. Just like that, all is forgotten.
So if you’re wondering how to act confident when you’ve made a mistake, the trick is really no trick at all: own up to it. Be the first to point it out so no one feels like you’re dodging responsibility. A situation is only as awkward as you make it, and nothing is more awkward than pretending nothing happened or hiding away in embarrassment.
2. Talk About Things You’re Knowledgeable About
Another misconception about how to act confident is that confident people know something about everything. It’s easy to dismiss them as a know-it-all or feel envious because you’re not that conversation-savvy, but you don’t have to be either of those things to act confident. No one knows everything, and it’s usually easy to spot someone who is way out of their element.
The trick is to always be in your element. If you know a lot about the conversation topic (books, movies, psychology, anything) then join in. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge to fuel the conversation. Don’t drop a textbook on their heads; just naturally discuss the topic like you would with a friend who shares your interest.
Now the hard part: if you don’t know anything about the topic, admit it. Don’t make up knowledge if you have no idea what’s going on. Nothing triggers awkwardness like getting caught faking your way through a conversation you’re clueless in.
Does that mean you shouldn’t join a conversation you’re lost in? Absolutely not. Tell the other person you’re not up to speed on that topic and allow them to share their knowledge. Ask questions, comment on what they tell you, or share something similar you’re interested in. Most people are happy to talk about their interests; let their strengths shine and they’ll appreciate you more for it.
3. Walk With Purpose
Now on to confident person misconception number three: confident people always know where they’re going, always have somewhere to be, and always strut their stuff when they walk.
Eh, not really. You don’t have to know where you’re going to look like you’re fine with it. That’s really the only difference between people who look confident at a glance and those who don’t: they look fine with wherever they are. They’re not ducking their head and scurrying around people like they’d rather be anywhere else.
Nope. They’re just… walking. Because they know it’s not a crime to go out in public and do whatever they’re doing. No hunched shoulders, no staring at the floor like you wish you could disappear.
Don’t know where you’re going? That’s cool. Enjoy where you are right now. Are you lost? Smile at someone who looks approachable and ask for directions. People who look approachable are usually perfectly willing to, well, be approached. Besides, smiling at anyone makes it difficult to be upset at you for no reason.
So don’t walk like you own the place if that’s not you; just walk like you’re cool with where you’re going, even if that’s nowhere in particular.
4. Respect Your Own Boundaries
Maybe you’re not a people person and you think you have to be to look confident. But, no, you don’t. Not all confident people are extroverts. It’s completely possible to be confident in your own introverted way. All of the above tips apply to introverts as well as extroverts, in addition to:
Respect the boundaries you want others to respect. If you don’t like to be hugged, say you’re not much of a hugger and offer a handshake. If you don’t want to be dragged into a conversation, kindly but firmly tell them you have somewhere to be.
Part of how to act confident is setting your boundaries and standing by them. If you don’t want to go out, say thanks but no thanks. Your confidence does not hinge on your sociability; it hinges on your respect for yourself.
5. Take Pride In Your Skills
Going hand-in-hand with only talking about things you’re familiar with is only try to do things you’re good at. Sure, plenty of confident people attempt things they’re not great at, and they’re really good at shrugging it off and laughing when they suck (see tip number one).
But if you’re not ready to flaunt that level of confidence, then stick to what you know. Just like getting into a conversation you’re not familiar with, don’t be afraid to admit when you can’t do something. They’ll either respect your admission and move on to someone else or they’ll gladly teach you something new.
There’s a certain humbleness that sets true confidence apart from the false bravado people can see right through. Be the former: admit when you’re not an expert and don’t oversell the skills you do have. Simply . . . use them. If you’re a whiz at something, do it. People start to notice after a while, and they respect when you haven’t called attention to it.