Karolina Numminen

How to Be More Confident

Confidence would easily occupy the top spot if I had to list the most common topics I discuss with my clients during our coaching sessions. No doubt, it's a huge topic affecting many areas of our careers: decision-making, taking important steps, trying new things, networking, and building relationships,.... 

Life gets a bit easier when you don't doubt every minute of every day and can show up more self-assured. And it's important to note that everyone can become more confident. I used to believe that confidence is a personality thing- you were or were not born confident, and that's it. But seeing in myself and my clients how much confidence can actually develop, I now understand that we all have the capability to improve our self-esteem.  

So in this article, I'm sharing proven tips to not just grow your confidence and take a new perspectives on this topic.

1. Know What Confidence Looks Like to You

As much as it's discussed, confidence is an abstract concept that looks different to everyone. So, let's start with defining what confidence means for you. This is easiest done by thinking about concrete areas where you're currently experiencing a lack of confidence; it could be missing out on opportunities, fear of negotiating for a higher salary, not having the authority and respect from others, or struggling in uncomfortable situations with clients. 

To see what are the main areas for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does a lack of confidence show up in my life?
  • What actual results do I want to see once I become more confident?

When you know the answers, it becomes easier to chase after a specific image and measure whether or not your confidence is at the level that helps you achieve the results you want.

Remember that confidence can have both positive and negative connotations. Especially people who try to present themselves as more confident than they really are can appear arrogant, obnoxious, and generally unpleasant to be around. So, don’t try to pursue a generic idea of confidence, but think of it in the context of your specific situation.

2. Acknowledge Past Achievements

So once you know where you are at and what you're after, we can get to work. And we'll start by taking a trip down memory lane. Remember when you aced a test, delivered an impressive presentation, or did something even though you were scared and nervous? You can surely recall countless moments when you showed up with all your confidence. 

Sadly, too often, we're guilty of brushing off our past achievements, thinking they were "too easy" or that "anyone could've done it." But hey, you did that, so give yourself credit instead of overthinking whether your accomplishment is worthy. Every achievement, no matter how small, moves you forward. 

If you've never looked back at all you've done, consider spending some proper time on this exercise. Write down all that comes up and wait to be amazed. This is a great first step on a journey to becoming more confident. I often do this exercise with my clients, asking them to list all they are proud of. It's often difficult and uncomfortable at first but gets easier with each additional item. You can save this list and reflect on it whenever a self-doubt creeps in.

3. Competence Over Confidence

Confidence and competence are two parts of an equation. They balance and, to some degree, substitute each other. So, instead of focusing directly on the abstract task of 'becoming more confident,' you can redirect your efforts to becoming more competent; learning, developing skills, and generally increasing your knowledge. 

Many people who appear confident will probably tell you they just focused on improving their skills, and confidence eventually followed. This is true for you as well. Think how much more self-assured you now are with tasks or conversations that used to terrify you. And this isn't the result of you focusing on becoming confident, but of just improving your skills one step at a time, until you simply knew you could do it no matter what.

4. Pace and body language

So what about the actual confidence-growing tactics? As I was preparing to write this article, I paid more attention to people I consider confident. What were the things they had in common and that set them apart? What stood out to me was the general calm in the body language and way of talking.

Confident people just appear super chill. They don't rush or jump from one thing to the next. They also keep eye contact, which makes you feel like they're in control and know what they're talking about. And another thing, they don't fiddle around with their pen when talking or use too many words. They say what they need to say, and wait for the response. They can handle the discomfort of the silence that follows.  

These things are easy to implement immediately and become natural with a bit of practice. So, next time you find yourself in a sticky situation, try to minimize the number of words and movements you use. Don’t over explain your point and just wait for the other side to say the next thing. You might be surprised at how much more confident you'll come across.

5. Ditch What Doesn’t Feel Authentic

As confidence is a big topic in the self-help world, there is a ton of advice out there, some of which will be entirely useless for most people. And let's face it, a lot of the tips online can be a bit too woo-woo for those of us who prefer to stay down-to-earth.

Picture this: you're standing in front of a mirror, reciting affirmations like, "I am strong. I am capable." But inside, you're rolling your eyes. If this sounds familiar, it's time to let go of what doesn't resonate with you. There is no magic pill for everyone. And that's okay! It's better to find genuine ways to boost your self-esteem rather than cling to insincere self-talk or forced positivity.  

6. You Can Do Scary Things Without Feeling Confident

A lack of confidence can become an excuse to become stuck and not go after what you want. The hard truth is that confidence isn't a universal magic wand or a shield against failure. We'll never get to a place where we avoid negative emotions such as self-doubt, fear of disappointment, or overthinking what was or will be. So, if that's your reason for chasing after a more confident you, I'm sorry to disappoint you. 

Confidence actually isn't a prerequisite for taking brave steps. Think about it: wasn't there a time when you did something terrifying without feeling ready? Perhaps you asked for a raise, pitched a new idea, or started a side hustle. Self-esteem might not have been your co-pilot, but you did it anyway. You don't always need to feel invincible to make a move- often, taking the leap is the very thing that builds confidence.

So be careful when postponing an important step for 'when you feel more confident'. That moment might never happen, and you are disregarding the fact that you can do it anyway, even when it feels scary.

7. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

We live In a world that’s constantly showcasing success stories- on social media but often in real life as well. it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. But remember, that everyone is on their own unique journey, with different challenges and timelines. 

Moreover, you might be confusing your perception with reality. The person who is totally fearless in your eyes might be stressed by exactly the same things as you do. But maybe they just decided to go for it anyway. EVERYONE doubts themselves sometimes. So don’t dwell in the distorted image that everyone else but you has it all figured out. 

See what others achieved as a representation of what’s possible for you as well. Instead of comparing, think of what this person did right, what you could try as well. We can all succeed if we focus on our paths, celebrate our progress, and recognize that our value is not determined by how you stack up against others. 

Karolina Numminen

Want to take a deeper look at your confidence?

With improved confidence, you'll never again struggle to negotiate for a promotion or a raise. So let's uncover what’s holding you back and get to work!

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Building Confidence: A Journey, Not a Destination

Wherever you are on your confidence.building journey, you are not starting from 0. If you look back, you'll see that you're significantly more self-assured now than you were 5 or 10 years ago. And even though on the day-to-day basis it feels like one step forward, two steps back, the progress shows in the long run.

Confidence is a lifelong journey, and it’s about more than just feeling good about yourself.  It's about accepting that every experience, success or failure, contributes to the person you’ve become. Here's to a more confident you!

Karolina Numminen
Karolina Numminen

Hi there!

Thank you for reading! I'm Karolina, a career coach with a passion for helping people have fulfilling and successful career journeys. I love writing about all things work and sharing the insights I’ve gained from years of coaching clients.

I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn and continue the conversation. I’m always curious about different professions and career paths!


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