Confidence has a common meaning of a certainty about handling something, such as work, family, social events, or relationships.Wikipedia
In this article I will discuss how to develop rock solid confidence in social events.
Confidence is a skill like anything else. But you need to practice and develop it all the time.
That is good news. I used to think that you were either born with confidence or not. Further, for it seemed that confident people were just certain of themselves in all situations.
This is far from the truth.
Confidence is more nuanced. Simplified, you can say that confidence is on a scale from 1 to 10. Also, you may have confidence in one social setting, but none in another.
For instance, when hanging out with your friends, you feel like a 9 in confidence. You say, almost, everything on your mind. Joking around, making fun, more serious matters, talking about your political beliefs and so on.
Then suddenly, a new guy enters the group. You don’t know him. He is confident and he wins your friends trust immediately. Actually, they love him. But you notice, you don’t feel the same. Your friends ask you why you don’t engage as much anymore. You realise, that you actually don’t feel confident around him. You feel like a 3 on the confidence scale, that is, pretty poor confidence.
So what to do?
Obviously, you don’t need to be a 10 in confidence in every area of your life. It is enough to excel with confidence in a few areas of your life. I would be so bold to say, choose only one area to begin with. One area which you can work on a little bit every day. Small steps of improvement every day.
When you master your first 9 or 10 confidence in one area, it will be easier to excel in other areas.
Actually, I thought that if you are a 10 in confidence in one area, you would naturally be better in all other areas. That is true, but maybe not as much as you wish. I still today discover areas of my confidence that is not rock solid. Luckily, they are not 1s and 2s anymore, they improved, but are still shocking me that the aspects of social confidence can be almost disjoint.
Below are 7 steps to build rock solid confidence.
1. Realise that confidence is a choice
Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Imagine last time you didn’t feel confident. Say, your at the movies with 4 acquaintances you don’t really know. They ask you which movie you want to see. You want to see the new Bumblebee movie, but you are afraid what they will think of you. Hence, you say you don’t care. They decide to see the new chick-flick Second Act, which you suffer through for 2 hours of pain and misery.
Then flip back to your bathroom. It is morning. You just got up. You ask yourself in the mirror. Which movie would you like to see? You respond. I would love to see the new Bumblebee movie.
How come you can say it when no-one is around? Except your understanding reflection in the mirror. How come?
(The answer comes later, you’ll have to read on)
Let me ask you another question. Could you for a moment just imagine that you just said it confidently to your new group of acquaintances? Like, I want to see the Bumblebee movie! Not vague like, maybe we could watch, if you also would like, to see that movie (pointing), or maybe not, ha ha, just a joke.
Could you do that?
Of course you could. But of course, I know it is not easy. That is why confidence is a skill. You need to work on it.
2. Fear stops your confidence
To answer the above question. Why can’t you just speak up confidently in front of everybody you meet or are acquainted with?
Fear stops you.
You are afraid of being not liked. Afraid that others think you are ridiculous. You fear, that they think you are childish to want to see a Bumblebee movie. How lame is this dude for proposing such a childish movie?
You take critique very personal. If they find your choice bad, you take it personal. You pretend not to care, but it hurts you that they don’t like your choice, and the logical conclusion is that they also don’t like you.
The fear of being criticised. Why bother to tell your true opinion when it might cost public critique and more people added to the group that thinks you are awkward. Hence, it is easier not to share your true opinion.
Recommended read about irrational fear Self-confidence and Fear.
3. Realise that confidence is context specific
If you, like I used to, have no confidence in any social situation (excluding talking privately to your mom), then it can seem hopeless and hard to imagine that you will be able to grow any confidence. Maybe, you are just doomed for eternal suffering on planet earth, such that others can have fun of how pathetic you are.
Well, I have good news for you. The world isn’t like that.
You can feel confident in one social situation and feel insecure in another. You probably have a good friend you feel comfortable talking with, or even a group of close friends you share most of your thoughts without hesitating or feeling regret for sharing your thoughts afterwards. In these situations you have confidence. Whether you feel like a 10 or an 6 on the confidence scale doesn’t matter. The point is, that there are situations you feel confident in.
The great news is, that all people have social situations they do not feel confident in. Say, giving a talk to 10,000 people. Yeah, I know, there are exceptions, but then they have other social situations they do not feel confident in.
Your challenge is, that your life is controlled by you avoiding too many social situations, which makes it complicated and full of half excuses and poor lies.
4. Decide on social situation to increase confidence
The good strategy is not to conquer rock solid confidence in all social situations in your life. No, it is to identify one area you avoid or do not feel confident in every day. This enables you to work on your weakness every day and progress fast.
If you first conquer confidence in one area you always feared or avoided to interact in, this will build positively to your self-esteem.
5. Daily preparation
Inspired by the KAIZEN by making small continuous daily improvements has shown to be one of the most efficient ways to get great results.
This is great news. Firstly, because you only need to make a small improvement every day. You only need to adjust your current behaviour a small fraction every day. This has a great benefits. You do not need to make drastic changes to your behaviour from one day to another.
Personally, I remember the fear of changing my behaviour and how my friends and acquaintances would react and think. Luckily, this is not a problem with the KAIZEN mindset.
6. Daily action
This is where the KAIZEN is hits reality. You need to jump into it every single day. I would advice to say 5 days per week, keep the weekend free. Keep the weekend for recreation and reflection.
This step can be tough in some situations. Say, if you are like I used to be, never say any word in groups with 3 people or more. Then saying the first word is difficult. First time to speak up can feel far beyond your comfort zone.
Remember that to postpone will not solve your problem. You need to commit to do it today.
Go back to step 5 and continue. If you are satisfied with the results go to step 4 and continue with a new situation you want to improve.
The key is to work on it every day. Then you will grow rock solid confidence in no time.