I am going to start off by telling you about the problems I had in communicating confidently. I have not seen much variation between people who lack confidence when talking with others so if you are short in the confidence department or just want to have more confidence in your conversations, you’ll definitely be able to relate and learn from my experience. You do not need to go through life lacking confidence and feeling dominated by others and situations.
From an early age, I was always the quiet boy. I’d sit in school knowing the answers to a question but would be too afraid to answer. I couldn’t talk to someone new. I wouldn’t look someone in the eyes if they looked back at me and I’d hardly argue with anyone. Yes arguing is a bad thing, but I avoided arguing not because it was the right thing to do, but because I was too afraid to speak up and voice my opinion. I was passive and unconfident in letting people verbally trample over me.
Being so passively accepting like I was is dangerous for your mental health. A fear to speak from poor confidence can manifest in huge forms of resentment, ill will, and anger which in turn destroys relationships, happiness, and success. You can probably see that talking with confidence is strongly related to assertive communication. Rarely do you see a person who lacks confidence asserting themselves. I’ll try to stick to the confidence side of things as you can read more about assertion in the assertive skills section.
There’s a difference with not engaging in an argument for the sake of the relationship and not engaging in an argument because you are afraid. When you have an unhealthy fear you will avoid communicating yourself, become emotionally hurt, and nothing good will result. You’ll know the truth in side of you if an unhealthy fear and a lack of confidence exists. You’ll be unhappy, extremely frustrated, scared, and feel like you want to explode. You’ll hardly voice your opinions and emotions in conversations because of fear. That was me. I was miles from communicating confidently.
In addition to this type of fear, other common forms of poor communication confidence is the unknown and fear of judgment. These are in situations like meeting new people, public speaking, or giving a presentation. I too suffered from all these fears and believe this type of fear is a pandemic in society. Many people go to public events and are fearful of communicating with others. They will do what they can to stay “under the radar” and avoid possible awkward situations where they would be required to leave their comfort zone.
I didn’t have confidence in myself even though I knew I had something interesting, useful, or helpful to say. It wasn’t safe to do so. There was a hidden psychological barrier that kept pushing me away from communicating confidently. If you’re lacking or have lacked confidence, you know what it feels like. It is a cage in your mind that has you trapped. Your mind tells you you are not allowed to leave the cage because it’s unsafe. It tells you other people will judge, criticize, reject, or disapprove you.
Becoming confident is far more about working on your inner self than what you verbally express. Verbal and non-verbal messages that express your confidence will be created once you develop confidence with your inner self. I’ll teach you later on how your inside becomes your outside which is known as the process of manifestation.
Birth of Fear
The hidden psychological barrier I earlier referred to is fear. The primary attribute in you that is stopping you from communicating confidently is fear.
Like kryptonite to superman as fear is to communicate confidently. Fear is the acid that eats away confidence. Fear is the one tonne bolder that holds back a person from being confident. Fear is the Achilles of self-confidence.
You will build more confidence once you remove the “kryptonite, acid, or one tonne bolder” that is fear. To become confident you need to have little or ultimately no fear. To remove your fears the first step is to look at your fears and understand their “birth” to see what created them.
As a baby you entered into this world in a neutral state of mind. You did not fear people looking at you or staring back at people. You did not constrain your actions because of what other people thought. You were spontaneous without a care in the world as to what other people were thinking of your actions. I think the only fear a baby has is loud noises.
This neutral state of mind changed as you aged. When you were growing up, your parents would tell you, “Watch out!”, “Don’t go there!”, “Don’t do that!”, and “You’re not allowed that!” Your parents conditioned your behavior. After being conditioned, what actions you took after that would be conditional on how you thought your parents would respond. You lost your independence to do as you wish and became dependent on your parents. What you could and couldn’t do became more and more determined by your parents. This stimulated the creation of your fear of failure or fear of success.
As you became an adult, the memories of your parents telling you “Don’t do that!” were implanted into your subconscious mind. This guides your current actions. These childhood experiences manifest into forms of “I can’t do that!” When an opportunity comes to meet someone you see who looks really interesting, powerful, or attractive, you subconsciously reaffirm to yourself “I can’t do that!” When a business opportunity arises, you don’t even have a go at starting it up because you reaffirm to yourself “I can’t do that!” You begin to give up without even trying.
In the Communication Secrets of Making People Like You program I’ve developed, I discuss what is known as the praise-blame dependency trap. The psychological trap is created when praise and blame is put on the person instead of the person’s behavior. Constant praise or blame directly communicated to a person leads them to being dependent upon it. The praise and blame becomes their behavioral “life support”. They cannot live without getting the feedback of others and living up to other people’s standards. Praise and blame leads to poor self-reliance and diminishing levels of confidence. It leads to needy behavior and requiring approval from other people which I discuss later on in this article. It leads to fear of rejection, approval, and disapproval.
Let’s firstly look at what fear is then we can further analyze how it is created and ultimately remove it from your life. Fear is defined as an unlikable emotion towards a perceived real or fake threat. Read that out loud again. It is a perceived real or fake threat.
According to psychologists, the psychological process known as “perception” where we interpret the world around us has three stages.
You are firstly exposed to the information. When in a conversation, exposure is being next to the person whom you can hear. Exposure is just a matter of coming within range of the stimulus.
Secondly is attention. It occurs when a stimulus activates one or more of our human senses. In our conversational example, you have attention to the person when you think about what is said. If the person begins to bore you or you are afraid of what the person is thinking of you, you are not thinking about the exposure and so the perceptual process would stop at this stage as you are not paying attention.
The third stage of perception is interpretation. It is the process of adding meaning to the stimulus through your thinking or feelings. The thinking often analyzes the stimulus against past experience. As a conversational example, if a guy recently abused you, you will interpret what he is saying differently than someone who is a great friend with him. You can see how interpretation and experiences can affect your confidence in situations.
You are better equipped in becoming more confident by identifying what experiences and thinking is affecting your interpretation of the situation. It is analyzing the situation as to why you are not confident.
Also, if you are feeling unhappy or other “negative” emotions when interpreting the situation with your feelings, you are more likely to experience negative actions such as poor confidence. It is the interpretation stage of the perceptual process which is the major focus in overcoming fear and building confidence; how you derive meaning from or “interpret” the world. The unconfident person interprets a person’s unwillingness to communicate as he or she being hated. In the exact same situation, the confident person interprets a person’s unwillingness to communicate as independent of himself or herself provided that is the truth.
Real or Fake Threat
The perceptual stage of interpretation leads us nicely into the second point in the definition of fear which is a “real or fake threat”. We fear because threats are damaging to our mental and physical well-being. Fear is a safety barrier used to protect us psychologically and physically. If it was not for fear, we would all walk into a pit of snakes without a concern for safety. We fear pain and suffering. Fear protects us but too often it holds us back from reality and excelling in performance with whatever we do. We are especially held back when a psychological fear is present like fearing rejection when meeting a new person.
The interpretation stage in perception tells us that different messages and understandings can be drawn from the same situation. How we interpret the world around is entirely dependent on our perception. We see the world through our perception. Gustave Flaubert said, “There is no truth. There is only perception.”
Say there is a car accident with many witnesses whom are asked to recall the event. Each witness will most likely have a different recollection of the event to each other because of interpretation. While some interpretations of the situation will be true, most interpretations will be fake or completely wrong.
What this means for building your confidence is a fake understanding is holding you back. You are psychologically erecting an invisible barrier to the situation which instills poor confidence within you. The psychological barrier doesn’t exist. It is completely given birth based on your wrong interpretation or perception of the situation.
When you have feared something and acted despite of the fear, how often have you found it to be the truth? It hardly ever is! Fear literally evaporates when we take action. Franklin Roosevelt in the 1933 first Inaugural Address said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” We all subconsciously make-up garbage.
As feelings, thinking, and experiences are used in interpreting the situation, it makes perceptions a very shaky and unreliable source for the truth. What you interpret from a situation is not necessarily reality and will most likely be no more then an invisible psychological barrier in developing confidence to communicate. You are most likely giving birth to fear through “make-believe” thoughts. What you fear will usually not exist!
Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario
Almost all us guys are petrified in approaching women we find attractive. Guys get petrified stiff in a way most women will never understand. A million “what ifs” rush through the guys mind. He fears rejection, being humiliated, and turned down. What this relates to and how it ties in with the interpretive stage of perception is most guys let these “threats” dominate their thinking. Just about all psychological barriers we feel or rather “make up” are entirely fake. We think about the most wackiest worst possible situation and let it control us. This is a fake understanding and destroys our confidence.
One of the greatest pieces of advice in becoming brave no matter what is to think about the worst situation that will occur than psychologically deal with it beforehand. For guys approaching girls, unless she is sulking over the balcony, holding a knife in her hand, or just had a fight, the worst thing that will happen to you is her giving your the cold-shoulder. She will just ignore you. Anything worse is entirely her problem which must not concern you. It becomes her problem and not yours. Think of how this example can be applied to your life in other situations.
Having developed the worst case scenario, prepare yourself to encounter the situation with this worst possible outcome taking place then figure out what you can do to stop it from happening. This not only helps you deal with it should it occur, but it increases the likelihood of your success. Back to the example of a guy walking up to a girl. The guy should be prepared to get the cold-shoulder and even yelled at. As crazy and unlikely that this would happen, the guy now becomes ready to face his fears of approaching the girl which are nothing in respect to the crazy situation from happening. If the worst case plays out, he is able to accept it and deal with it appropriately.
Being Needy and Seeking Approval
I’d say the most common fear unconfident people have is the need for other’s approval. When you give out the need for approval, people will sense that you are needy and unconfident. No one likes to be around these needy people. The need for approval is determined through the unconfident person’s perception so what may seem like reality is in fact unreal. You think you need another person’s approval, but confident people do not need this.
When you rise above the need to be approved by other people your confidence will soar. Your uncertainty will stop, your worrying will stop, and your fear of acceptance will stop once you do not need other’s approval.
A confident woman is her own woman. If the people she is engaging with have nothing that she wants, she is then able to be herself and not worry about what others think.
The same is for us guys except we have an extra source of motivation for not caring what others think. Attraction expert David DeAngelo sees a primary mistake guys make when trying to attract women in their lives and even once they do attract women, is the guy’s clinginess and desire to have the woman’s approval. David explains thoroughly how big of a turn-off this is for women. Surely this awakens a guy’s desire to not want other’s approval and especially amongst women.
The same is true for women who find what they feel to be Mr. Right. The woman becomes clingy and needy towards the man. She needs his approval and begs for attention. This lessens the attraction he feels for her.
Surprisingly, once you do not need approval from others, they will actually approve of you! It’s all about your inner game creating your outer game. A person who knows they do not need other’s approval will give out the message that they are confident and happy with who they are. Now that’s something other people will like!
Clarity Forms Confidence
An interesting characteristic you will notice in people who lack confidence is when they do talk just by listening you are able to tell they lack confidence. They will often talk quietly, mumble, and have poor body-language.
To many times people had to ask me to repeat what little things I did say because of my soft and unclear voice. When you are asked to repeat yourself you develop frustration thinking “Ah, why don’t they just listen?” but the problem lies in you and not them. Acknowledge that you are responsible otherwise you will never solve your problem.
When you let others overrule you, when you forgo your personal needs continuously, and when you have to repeat yourself because you mumbled all because of low confidence levels, you subconsciously condition yourself to talk less confidently. So when you talk less confidently: others begin to overrule you more, you forgo more personal needs, and you lose MORE confidence! It becomes tougher. It is a downhill spiral that can easily take you all the way to the bottom.
Here is how I solved poor voice clarity and volume. I did not learn this from anywhere else. This is from pure experience. Once you learn you do talk softly or with an unclear voice and once you desire to solve the problem, whenever you talk do so with clarity and good volume. You may not do so successfully every time, but you must try. Nothing revolutionary there.
The true tip is making 100% effort and no excuses when doing this. When you are tired or unhappy you will want to revert back to your old ways but you must not if you want to improve. You must have zero tolerance for laziness and always put in your fullest effort to communicate confidently. Also, learn to open your mouth more as you “accentuate” every word that you speak.
When you are relentless and make every effort to talk confidently, you are practicing good habits. When you practice good habits, the behavior is reinforced and you are more likely to repeat the good habit. This rule is true for any habit whether good or bad. The communication learning process will rapidly increase if you make every effort to talk confidently and practice good habits.
Accepting of Others
It is a common characteristic in those who are stubborn or righteous to lack self-confidence. You may perceive these stubborn people as being overly confident but they actually lack the confidence to welcome other’s point of views. These people shield themselves from other’s opinions by failing to listen. They lack the confidence in their own perspectives to welcome other people’s input continuing with their stubborn ways. Confident people are welcoming and not fearful of others.
Confident Non-Verbal Communication
Once you develop verbal clarity you can take the next step in developing fearless communication which is looking at your body language. You need to have high self-awareness in order to be aware of your body language. It is a matter of knowing what you do in certain situations. When you have poor body language others can see fear in you. On the other end, when you communicate confident body language, everyone – especially females – can feel it. Women love confident body language and can see a confident guy from a distance before he even speaks.
The four examples of body language that is counter-productive in developing confidence and how to solve them are:
1. Moving eye contact – people with low confidence levels rarely make eye contact and when they do, as soon as the other person returns that eye contact the person looks away. You do not look silly looking the other person in the eyes. In fact, not making eye contact makes you look weirder and is more annoying to the other person.
Good eye contact will show the person you are listening and that you are interested in what they have to say. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Excessive eye contact is non-verbal aggression. Dr. Peter Andersen, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Body Language, says you will make the other person feel comfortable with about 60% eye contact.
With practice I found that you will develop an intuition or ‘gut-feeling’ when you make the other person uncomfortable. As an example when you make to much eye contact, they will begin to not make eye contact with you or maybe fidget. At the moment, too much eye contact probably is not your concern as you are trying to develop confident body language but you still should be aware of the problems with excessive eye contact.
2. Weak touch – otherwise known as haptics, touch involves bodily contact. What area of haptics we are interested in for developing confident non-verbal communication is mostly the handshake. You will rarely use any other haptics other then a handshake in a normal social situation. It is not as if you normally go around patting people on the back or stroking their arm… I hope. That’s just strange!
What did you feel when someone shook your hand with a soft handshake? I bet you wondered if they cared about you at all or if they lacked confidence to show this concern. This is a ‘girly touch’. A good handshake depends on the receiving person. Most of the time you want a firm handshake, but occasionally with say the elderly you don’t want to be crushing their hand! For guys, when greeting ladies be aware that they do not have gigantic hard hands like you so be a little less firm. A firm handshake shows you care and is an initial way of communicating confidence when meeting someone.
3. Stay away – proxemics is body positions relative to one another. What I mean by “relative to one another” is the distance between you and the other person. You are most comfortable with an intimate or well known person being close to you as opposed to someone you just met. People with low confidence will have a much wider radius of comfort.
A more confident person will not show fear when someone “breaks” their comfortable proxemics. This does not mean they are comfortable with the closeness, it just means they do not show their discomfort. They desire the other person to stay away but they cope with the situation.
Guys, if a lady gets close to you, it is okay to feel uncomfortable. Just do not show discomfort. This will communicate that she does not intimidate you and will increase her level of attraction towards you.
An excellent example of proxemics that I can remember is two Australian Politicians on October 8 the eve of the 2004 federal election. John Howard was greeted by opposition leader Mark Latham aggressively. While Mark Latham did pull John Howard towards him when shaking hands (aggressive haptics), Latham made his body position aggressive by being extremely close and towering over the shorter John Howard. Despite this, Mr. Howard non-verbally stood his ground in confidence by continuing the handshake and smiling towards the cameras. I’m sure John Howard would have felt uncomfortable but he still communicated signs of confidence.
It was said Latham attempted to get revenge for Howard squeezing his wife’s hand too hard at a press function which I found to be funny! If only they were both able to read this!
4. Carry yourself – the last non-verbal communication technique I feel is valuable in developing confidence is kinesics. It involves body movement.
Possibly the most important kinesics in confidence is posture. A slouched posture not only screams an unconfident person, but it has a physical and psychological effect on the person with the poor posture. The physical effect of slouching your shoulders forward is it causes your chest to compress inwards. Your chest compressing simulates expelling air causing you to breathe shallowly. This means if you have poor posture you will have poor breathing.
The psychological effect of poor posture is poorer confidence. I’ll use arguably the world’s best golfer, Tiger Woods, as an example. Tiger is taught to maintain good posture as he approaches each shot. By having good posture he is able to breathe correctly and physically get his body into the right state of confidence. From this his mind is able to focus on the shot ahead. It is a trigger-fire action where one causes the other.
I know once golfer’s lose this state of confidence through poor posture, the affects are surprisingly strong. The golfer’s chest begins to tighten and everything heightens. They then lose their state of control, calmness, and confidence causing poor performance. The same relates to everyday life. We experience poor performance when our breathing becomes shallow. Our level of stress and anxiety begin to increase.
To practice a confident posture, roll your shoulders forward, upwards, and then back down to almost complete a circle. Watch your shoulders as you rotate them and if they are behind to what they were prior to doing the activity and you are comfortable, you have done the activity correctly.
For more great advice on effective body language, I have written ANOTHER free large article on how to be interesting without saying a word at my blog which is an essential read.
What Are You Saying to Yourself?
Otherwise known as self-talk, your thoughts play a large role in determining your confidence level. When you are afraid of stuffing something up in a conversation for example, you have a million thoughts rushing through your mind like: “What if he doesn’t like me?” “What if I don’t know what to say?” “What if I stuff up?” You blow your anxiety and stress to high levels by using this dangerous self-talk. It is damaging to your confidence and how you perform.
Stop worrying. Live in the present and do not talk negatively to yourself. It is as simple as that. Do not beat yourself up with negative self-talk and criticism. You don’t verbally bash your best friend so don’t do it to yourself.
When verbally beating yourself up, you feed your subconscious mind bad “mental food”. Your mind deserves nutritious positive thoughts. The effects of negative self-talk are damaging to your confidence, esteem, and overall success. How can you expect to win against the world if you’re the only person on your team and you’re against yourself? You can not do that. It is near impossible. You can not expect to develop unstoppable confidence and self-esteem fighting yourself.
Picture yourself driving in a car towards your goal. Think of negative self-talk as the brake and positive self-talk and imagery as the accelerator. When you begin to doubt yourself and let fear enter your mind, you are pressing the brakes and slowing yourself down. When you use positive self-talk you accelerate closer to becoming unstoppably confident.
Here’s the main point with the analogy. Most people are pressing the accelerator down by being positive but they do not build in confidence because they are also pressing the brakes by using negativity! It does not really matter if you have positive self-talk, imagery, and visualization because the negativity will stop you from becoming confident.
Top professional athletes are completely aware of their self-talk. Take Tiger Woods for example again. The guy’s roaring with confidence. How can he sink a putt on the 18th to win a golfing major if he’s saying to himself “Oh Tiger. This looks hard. You’re not going to able to get this”? He doesn’t do that! If he did, he would then miss the putt and will verbally bash himself further hurting his confidence to putt well. He does not use negative self-talk which is a contributor to his confidence and success.
Talk and think positively by using affirmations that are congruent with your communication and self goals. Continually say to yourself “I am confident” and by simply thinking and saying this to yourself, you become a more confident person. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This technique is actually very helpful in becoming happier. If you want to be happier anytime, just simply tell yourself you are happy and do happy things. You become happier! Your mind can only hold one dominant thought at a time so make it an empowering thought for your success. Use the principle of substitution by substituting a positive thought for a negative thought then watch your life change before your very eyes.
You will become more confident by affirming that you are confident. It does not matter if you truly are. The process of manifestation states your thoughts lead to feelings which lead to actions. Your thoughts ultimately become your actions and your actions become your reality. Like I have repeatedly said, what goes on inside of you will be seen outside of you.
As corny and weird as this may sound, love yourself. You do not need to be a jerk that is up himself or herself but you do need to treat yourself like a champion. You will create a higher self-perception and people will treat you better because of this. Treat yourself like rubbish and so will people. You need to be a cheerleader for yourself as others will most likely not be. You are the only person on your team. A lot of these things I have explained such as healthy self-talk will develop once you see and respect yourself like a champion.
Ensuring You Become Confident
I did not and you certainly will not make a giant leap to becoming unstoppably confident. You won’t wake up one morning feeling transformed. It is a progressive journey that takes time. You will stuff up but you can actually enjoy it if you are aware that you will make mistakes.
Just like the need to be aware that a marriage will not be perfect before entering into it, you will enjoy progressively becoming more confident and the likelihood of you achieving unstoppable confidence will increase if you accept mistakes. Screw ups are a part of life.
An extremely powerful message that will reassure you that you are developing and becoming more confident, deals with your thoughts. I have repeatedly explained how your outer game is reflected with what goes on inside of you. To know if you will become confident in the future, look at your mind today. To see who you are today, look at your thoughts in the past. In general, your future is created from your present against the backdrop of the past.
If you are not confident today, it was because of your thoughts in the past. If you are changing your thinking processes today you can project your mindset onto who you will become in the future. This means in the future, who you become will be because of your thoughts now.
It may seem obvious that working on your confidence now will mean you become more confident in the future, but there are two usual problems people experience.
The first problem is motivation. It can be extremely demotivating and depressing to be unconfident now so you can easily expect to not be confident in the future.
A second problem is people often do not realize that who they are today is because of their past. I actually encourage you to memorize “your future is created from your present against the backdrop of the past” as it will provide a great source of inspiration to keep developing yourself.
Practice, Practice, and Practice
The last point I want to make is encouraging you to go out and practice what you have learned today. Dale Carnegie said:
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
I cannot emphasize enough that you need to practice. If you have shyness problems, you will never overcome the problem thinking about it. Most fear comes about from thinking too much. Just get out there, take action, and you will see the fear is in fact a fact threat. The best conqueror of fear, negative emotions, and uncertainty is action. You will remove any doubts you have and in the process develop valuable experience.
You have learned all about your fears and how to communicate confidently so do not let them re-enter with inaction. You have got the knowledge now and all you have to do is apply, learn from your mistakes, and reapply! Go out and practice what you have learned here today and you will be well on your way to becoming a more confident person. Go on! Get out and get busy!
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