We’ve all met someone who exudes confidence. They walk into a room as if they own it. They share their ideas without worrying about rejection. And they are happy to meet new people they can add to their personal network. Ever wonder how they got that way?
“Confidence is an inside job,” says Roz Usheroff, president of The Usheroff Institute, leadership and branding consultants. “[Confident] people show up as their authentic self without apology. [They] ask themselves, ‘What would I do if I weren’t afraid?’”
Some people are naturally confident, however, it’s a trait you can acquire and improve if you practice these five habits of confident people.
1. THEY’RE ALWAYS GROWING
Learning new things expands your mindset, and confident people are curious and love to explore, says Angeli Gianchandani, professor of marketing at the University of New Haven and founder of Mobility Girl, a platform designed to empower young women and men through mentorship in coaching for economic growth.
“They are avid readers and focus on self-care making time to meditate and exercise to fuel their minds,” she says. “It is the power of their ideas and imagination to think beyond the ordinary that sets them apart.”
Growth is a continual investment in building confidence, adds Usheroff. “[Confident people] don’t depend on just natural talent but from learning new skills through perseverance and practice,” she says. “They don’t hesitate to make a course correction upon new knowledge or circumstances. They see failure as lessons learned, accept the consequences, and share their experiences.”
2. THEY DEMONSTRATE COURAGE
Confident people aren’t afraid to ask for advice. “They are comfortable admitting when they don’t know something as they don’t see it as a weakness,” says Usheroff.
Having courage means forgetting about being perfect, says Jonathan Alpert, author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. “So often people don’t pursue things because they feel it has to be just right. They ruminate over how to approach things, conduct themselves, or say something to the point of getting filled with anxiety and either not taking any action at all or doing so in a way that lacks confidence.”
Instead, confident people are willing to be vulnerable.
3. THEY TAME THEIR INNER CRITIC
While sometimes an inner critic can push you to strive harder, sometimes it prevents you from taking a risk, says Michele Patterson Ford, Ph.D., a psychologist and senior lecturer in psychology at Dickinson College. Confident people know when those inner thoughts are helpful or harmful.
“[It’s about] being mindful of the negative thoughts in [your] mind and treat them as just that, thoughts—not truths—that can help [you] to take these cognitions less seriously,” she says.
Having compassion for yourself and your struggles also helps build confidence. “Recent research has shown self-compassion was associated with self-worth,” says Patterson Ford. “Knowing your value is an important component of feeling confident in oneself. Self-compassion, however, may actually provide the benefits of high self-esteem without the potential problems associated with high self-esteem, like being egotistical. The compassionate side tames the potential to be self-absorbed.”
4. THEY’RE COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
Discomfort is a sign of progress, and confident people embrace it. “Those who invite discomfort are able to achieve more, take more significant risks and break through barriers, and are open to facing new challenges,” says Gianchandani. “Discomfort is a form of self-growth, pushing yourself mentally to overcome fear.”
Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable means eliminating a what-if mindset, says Alpert.
“This type of thinking is equivalent to getting under that tabletop and shaking a leg or two,” he says. “It will destabilize your beliefs, introduce doubt into your thinking, and shake your foundation. Any time you start to think ‘what-if,” change your thinking to ‘I will.’”
5. THEY’RE WILLING TO SPEAK UP
Simply put, confident people are willing to open their mouth and say something, says Alpert. “Anyone who has made a mark in this world has spoken up, presented their ideas, and taken a chance,” he says. “Dare to say what you believe in. You might be pleasantly surprised by who listens to you and is impressed by your confidence in sharing your ideas.”
Alpert says there will always be naysayers and people who doubt you, but don’t let that stop you from speaking up, taking a chance, and doing what you believe in. “Criticism just means you got people thinking,” he says. “Many who have taken confident and bold steps have faced resistance. Stay focused on what you believe in and forge ahead.”