7 Ways to Gain Confidence & Effectiveness Without Becoming a Jerk (or Losing Your Sensitive Side)
Emotional sensitivity is both a good and bad thing. It’s good because people who are emotionally sensitive cultivate good emotions and are often highly creative and artistic. It’s bad because emotionally sensitive people can easily drown when dealing with negative emotions.
Thus, people with strong emotional sensitivities can either flourish and do quite well in life, or they can end up stagnant and suffering, their confidence and productivity far lower than their natural proclivities — if they’d been properly nourished — actually allow for.
Yet what about a happy medium? There is no need to become an insensitive jerk in order to gain confidence, and neither do you have to remain a push-over if you want to hold onto the gifts your sensitivity has granted you.
Remember, when someone’s a jerk:
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
A truly confident person, on the other hand (and if you’re using that natural sensitivity of yours to really pay attention, you’ve likely caught onto this already), is calm and collected, armed with the simple intention to complete a task. Without looking condescending, confident people share skills and aim at getting people on par with them.
And it’s not that hard to become one, either. Scientific research has shown that the tiniest of things, like a smile or a good deodorant, are enough to boost your confidence.
Here are a few others:
1) Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Being aware of your strong and weak points boosts your confidence without making you look arrogant. It works this way because it is a simple acknowledgement of both. Your weaknesses balance out your strengths, and vice versa, keeping you from hubris and self-delusion.
Also, this level of self-awareness helps you know which weaknesses are worth working on, and which strengths are worth either down-playing or capitalizing on, depending on the situation. Knowing how to do this develops a healthy level of humility.
2) Get Out of Your Head (and Into Your Heart)
In the iconic words of Nike, “Just Do It.” Whereas an arrogant person talks more and does less, truly confident people are risk-takers who aim for success and let the results speak for themselves.
And there’s no better way to accomplish this than quitting the habit of overthinking. Thinking too much makes most people shrivel from risks, and there’s no success without risk-taking.
Truly confident people take risks, because they believe in themselves, and, while they’ve thought enough about the actions their about to take, they haven’t thought too much about them.
3) Accept Compliments
Have you ever met people you compliment honestly, and instead of replying with a simple “Thank you,” they either second-guess the compliment or give too much information. Suddenly, you know the designer of their outfit or they begin questioning the compliment, looking for negative loops.
Good confidence demands simplifying a compliment with a smile and an easy-going “Thank you”. Stop doubting when people see something they appreciate in you. It’s there!
4) Be Amicable
It’s pretty simple. People like (honestly) friendly people, and enjoy helping them and doing things for them. Taken to the extreme, it’s the difference between being a well-loved charismatic ruler or a tyrant. You can boost your confidence simply by reaching out to people in a relaxed manner and thus improving your social skills.
The best way to do this?
Just be yourself. Strive to exercise what Buddhists refer to as ‘the bearing of sameness’ — in other words, realize that NO ONE is either above you or below you.
5) Identify Your Definition of Confidence
Confidence means different things to different people. To one person, it might be the ability to ace a presentation or move a crowd in a public speech.
To another, it might be the superiority that comes from a know-it-all attitude (this would be an example of the ‘jerk’ type of confidence you don’t want to follow).
Regardless, no one is good at everything. Defining confidence your way helps draw a clear path to where you aspire to reach.
6) Be Honest
Many people say you need to ‘fake it until you make it’, and to some extent this is true, as long as what you’re ‘faking’ is an honest expression of where you want to get to — an authentic ‘future you’ you’re striving for. In this way, even ‘faking it’ is honest, because if you keep it up long enough, you will eventually fall into the patterns you’ve set for yourself.
On the other hand, there’s total transparency and honesty in the moment you’re in, even as you aspire to move towards that ‘you’ you want to be. This is tougher. It is a form of vulnerability that many find disconcerting and will often result in subtle (or not so subtle, depending on your age) forms of ridicule.
Still, it is a quick way of separating the wheat from the chaff, as those who appreciate your ‘fearlessness in showing your fear’ will tell you so, and you will in turn inspire them to do the same. A win-win situation.
7) Be a good listener
Mindful listening, to be precise, develops better relationships among people. Being a good listener draws people to you, and helps them express themselves more clearly as well.
Besides, when you listen with a purpose, you get all the facts straight, which boosts confidence by narrowing the job or issue at hand and delivering the expected outcome. When you pay attention in a briefing for instance, confidence automatically takes its rightful place, at your time of presentation.
Confidence is an important aspect of life that has great influence on one’s success and influence in this world. It is an appealing trait that helps people flourish on their journey, and serves as an inspiring example to others.
In truth, we are all born confident, but somewhere along the way it is lost, thinning out and eventually growing a need for our re-cultivation of it. Fortunately, it’s something that can be acquired with diligent practice.
I’ll end with another gem from Thich Nhat Hanh:
“You are capable of coming back to your best and highest self, but you must maintain this practice. Do not allow yourself to get distracted and forget to practice. Practice regularly, daily, with the support of your family, friends, and community—this is diligence.”