9 signs you’re dealing with someone who has low self-confidence

There’s a stark difference between a person with self-confidence and one without.

The difference lies in their behavior. A person with low self-confidence can be really hard to spot, especially if they’re good at hiding their insecurities.

Recognizing low self-confidence in others isn’t about judging them, rather it’s about understanding their perspective and helping them see their worth.

Knowing the signs can guide us in our interactions and maybe even help us boost their self-confidence.

Below are nine signs that you might be dealing with someone who has low self-confidence.

1) They avoid eye contact

Eye contact is one of the most powerful forms of non-verbal communication.

But when dealing with someone who has low self-confidence, you might notice they often avoid eye contact.

It’s not because they’re not interested in what you’re saying. On the contrary, people who lack self-confidence often worry about being judged or scrutinized.

They might look down, to the side, or anywhere but your eyes. This can be a clear sign that they’re feeling insecure or uncomfortable.

Recognizing this sign can help you adjust your approach and communicate with them in a more understanding and supportive way.

It’s not about pointing out their lack of confidence, but about creating an environment where they feel safe and valued.

2) They’re always apologizing

In my personal experience, I’ve noticed that folks with low self-confidence tend to apologize a lot.

I remember a colleague of mine, let’s call her Lily, who would say ‘sorry’ for the smallest things. If she needed to ask a question or if she slightly bumped into a chair, an immediate ‘sorry’ would escape her lips.

It was as if Lily felt she was constantly in the way or doing something wrong. This excessive apologizing was a clear sign of her low self-confidence. She didn’t feel she was allowed to take up space, make mistakes, or require assistance.

Understanding this behavior in someone can be a cue for us to reassure them that they don’t need to apologize for simply being themselves.

3) They’re overly critical of themselves

People with low self-confidence often have a harsh internal dialogue. They tend to nitpick their own abilities and achievements, focusing on their flaws and failures rather than their strengths and successes.

Psychologists refer to this as ‘negative self-talk’. This self-criticism can actually reinforce their low self-esteem, creating a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.

If you notice someone constantly downplaying their accomplishments or belittling themselves, it could be a sign of low self-confidence.

Offering them positive feedback and encouragement can help them break this cycle and start seeing themselves in a more positive light.

4) They struggle with decision-making

Decision-making can be a real struggle for those with low self-confidence. They often second-guess their choices, constantly worrying if they’re making the right decision.

You might find them seeking approval or validation before they make a choice. They might frequently ask for your opinion or assurance, even for minor decisions.

This fear of making mistakes or of being judged can paralyze them into indecision. If you notice this pattern in someone, it could be indicative of their low self-confidence.

Encourage them to trust their intuition and remind them that it’s okay to make mistakes; it’s part of the learning process.

5) They’re uncomfortable with compliments

Compliments can be a tricky territory for those with low self-confidence. Instead of accepting them graciously, they may deflect, dismiss or downplay them.

For example, if you compliment their outfit, they might respond with something like, “Oh this old thing? It’s nothing special.”

They find it hard to believe that the praise is genuine or that they are worthy of it.

This discomfort with compliments is often a sign of low self-confidence. If you notice this behaviour, continue to give them genuine compliments.

Over time, it can help them recognize their worth and boost their self-esteem.

6) They often feel like an imposter

Ever felt like you’re fooling everyone around you? Like you’re not as competent or capable as others perceive you to be? That’s called the Imposter Syndrome, and it’s particularly common among individuals with low self-confidence.

They are often plagued with self-doubt, feeling like a fraud despite their accomplishments. They believe they’ve only got where they are due to luck, not because of their skills or efforts.

This can be heart-wrenching to watch in someone you care about.

If you notice them expressing such feelings, remind them of their worth, their achievements and the unique qualities they possess.

Your words could be the reassurance they need to combat these debilitating thoughts.

7) They tend to be perfectionists

Perfectionism and low self-confidence can go hand in hand. I’ve seen this in my own life.

I used to spend hours perfecting a task, afraid that any small mistake would make me look incompetent. It was exhausting and never felt good enough, even when I received praise for my work.

This drive for perfection often stems from a fear of criticism or a deep-seated belief that one’s worth is tied to their performance.

If you notice someone putting undue pressure on themselves to be perfect, it’s likely they are dealing with low self-confidence.

Encouraging them to embrace their imperfections and mistakes as part of their growth can help alleviate some of this pressure.

8) They shy away from challenges

People with low self-confidence often shy away from challenges or new experiences. The fear of failure or the unknown can be overwhelming.

They might stick to what’s familiar, even if it means missing out on exciting opportunities or personal growth. This can limit them in both their personal and professional lives.

If you see someone consistently avoiding challenges, it might be a sign of low self-confidence.

Encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone, while providing a supportive safety net, can help them build confidence and resilience.

9) They struggle with assertiveness

Assertiveness can be a real challenge for those with low self-confidence. They often struggle to express their needs, desires, or boundaries, for fear of upsetting others or being rejected.

They might agree with things they don’t actually believe in, or accept tasks they don’t have the bandwidth for. This can lead to resentment and burnout.

Understanding this behavior is paramount in supporting someone with low self-confidence.

Encourage them to express their thoughts and needs, assuring them that their voice matters. It’s a vital step towards building their self-confidence and improving their overall well-being.

In closing: It’s all about empathy

Understanding human behavior is a complex task, often requiring us to delve deep into the realms of psychology and empathy.

One such exploration is the recognition of low self-confidence in others.

It’s important to remember that self-confidence is not innate but can be cultivated over time. And one of the most significant ways we can aid this cultivation is through understanding, empathy, and support.

Whether it’s a friend, family member, or colleague, understanding these signs of low self-confidence can equip us with the tools to effectively support and uplift them.

In the end, it’s not just about recognizing these signs. It’s about taking that knowledge and using it to foster a supportive and accepting environment that helps individuals believe in their abilities and worth.

As psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” It’s this acceptance – both from within and from others – that paves the way for fostering self-confidence.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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