21 habits that make people perceive you as less confident

Self-confidence is believing in yourself. It’s knowing what you bring to the table. Having self-esteem means you don’t need validation from others. You’re sure of yourself. You know your worth. 

Exuding confidence is a skill I always strive for. I want to engage and influence people with ease. How about you? 

Are you doing things that might be making you look less confident? I pulled this together to ask myself.

These are signs that you seem insecure… 

1) Not making eye contact.

People who tend to look at the ground instead of who they’re speaking with show insecurity.

It’s almost as if they’re scared to see the other person’s reaction because of their lack of confidence. 

2) Fidgeting.

The act of fidgeting can involve tapping, playing with one’s hair, or not staying still. 

While fidgeting may also indicate other challenges—such as ADHD and shyness—it mainly looks like you can’t handle yourself in a public setting due to an insecurity.

3) Laughing nervously.

Filling silence with nervous laughter? It’s easy to fall into this trap when you’re in the middle of a conversation and you don’t know what to say. I’m guilty! 

If you don’t know what to say, simply end the conversation with a definitive statement to sound confident

4) Having nervous energy.

This is one of the things I struggle to put into words. Sometimes the person is not even doing anything intentionally conveying insecurity, but I sense the nervous energy anyway. 

If someone has nervous energy, I end up feeling uneasy, unpleasant, or equally awkward. 

5) Staying silent during meetings. 

As teams discuss important topics, there might be one person in the room who either has nothing to say, or is not confident enough to insert themselves in the conversation.

This is especially true if someone should have plenty to say about a topic, but doesn’t contribute. You might wonder if they’re having a bad day. You might also just assume they’re insecure about the topic or in general. 

6) Uttering your sentences instead of saying things with conviction.

Do you ever mumble your words? Try not to because people might think you’re insecure. When making important statements, say things with conviction. 

I fall into this trap when I’m talking about a topic I don’t know too much about.

Pay attention to how you enunciate words, in addition to your volume. 

You should sound sure of yourself to get buy-in from others. You’ll engage people if you speak with authority and expertise. 

7) Engaging in self-deprecation. 

Let’s hope self-deprecation is not your “schtick.”

Some people may turn to saying negative things about themselves, but it’s not doing anything for your image. 

Saying things like: “I have no idea what I’m talking about” or “I never get anything right” will show blazing insecurity. If you want people to believe in you, you can’t knock your ability and knowledge down. 

8) Speaking with a question inflection at the end of your sentence even when you’re not asking a question.

The rising inflection—when you’re not asking a question—makes you sound unsure of what you’re saying. 

If you’re asking a question, it’s okay. But, if you’re saying things like, “We will work to reach our goals in the future” and you add a rising inflection, it sounds like you’re wondering if you will. 

9) Saying “I think…” before a statement.

The words, “I think” are often used when you really aren’t sure that others agree with you. Saying “I think…” is indicating, what you believe about something might be a little off or not the norm. 

You’re not super sure you believe what you’re about to say. You reveal it anyway to see where you stand with others. “I think this… Do you?” 

10) Being too self-promoting.

While the braggy braggerson might seem confident, it’s the actual opposite. If you were confident in yourself, would you need to point it out to people?

When someone tells me, “I’m a nice guy.” That’s how I know, they’re actually not nice at all. 

The statement doesn’t make it true, but insecure people may say things that they’re not sure you can sense or see. They need to tell you because their actions don’t say enough.

11) Constantly comparing yourself to others.

I find this trait so hard to avoid. But sometimes, the comparison monster creeps in. 

That’s when you can’t help but pit yourself against someone else. “So-and-so did it better than me,” you might think to yourself. If you say that out loud, people will sense insecurity

Remind yourself to, “do you, boo,” and pay little to no attention about others. Are you happy with what you did? Then, great! There’s not much more to say.

12) Engaging in gossip. 

If you feel the need to start, spread, or get embroiled in gossip, you have to wonder if that’s your insecurity at play. 

If you were truly confident, you wouldn’t care what’s going on with other people. Being entertained by other people’s demise is only for the insecure. 

Speaking negatively about your co-workers or perpetuating their drama may be an indication you’re not sure of yourself. I’ve been there.

13) Saying, “Let me get back to you.”

Clearly, you don’t know the answers because you need time to go find them. 

If you want to prevent this from happening to you, always be prepared. Know before you go. Consider all the questions people might ask you and have your answers planned and ready. 

14) Saying, “I don’t know.”

Admitting you don’t have the answers is admirable and all. However, it’s showing your insecurity and lack of knowledge on the topic. 

15) Asking, “What do you all think?

While it might be the polite thing to ask (like in a team brainstorm), you shouldn’t be wondering about other people’s opinions all the time.

Confidence is not needing other people’s input when you are truly the expert. 

We’re not saying to be self-centered. You should try to be a team player. However, if you’re leading the project, be confident in making key decisions.

16) Apologizing profusely. 

If you really didn’t do anything wrong, don’t apologize.

I do this way too often. I’m a work in progress.

Always saying you’re sorry when you haven’t made a mistake shows a lack of confidence.Why are you already admitting fault before anything even happened? 

It’s like you assumed you’d make a mistake, so you had better fess up now. 

17) Making bad decisions.

Insecurity may make you move through life making poor choices.

Think: peer pressure and doing things to impress people. If you are lacking self-confidence, it’s easy to fall into these traps. You’re not thinking for yourself. 

Instead, you’re thinking for others. You want their approval even though you don’t need it. 

18) Second-guessing decisions.

If you’re confident, you wouldn’t need to wonder if you picked the right moves or went the right direction. 

When you are driving from point A to point B, do you sometimes question yourself? “Wait, did I turn on the right road?” You probably did, but you weren’t confident enough to be sure. You don’t trust yourself. 

19) Not expressing your own opinions.

Are you sometimes afraid to speak up about something you believe in? What’s holding you back? 

Having low self-esteem will hinder your ability to stand up for something you care about.

If you exuded self-confidence, you wouldn’t think too much about the consequences of speaking your truth. You’d say things loudly and proudly. 

Will you go to a protest and shout your stance? Then you’ve got confidence. 

Are you intimidated by the thought of that? You’d rather support silently and let others do the hard work of fighting for positive change. You may have low self-esteem. 

20) Sticking with what you know.

Creatures of habit find comfort in the same old, same old. While there’s nothing wrong with sticking with what you know, if it’s all that you do, you may be lacking self-confidence.

A confident person will experiment. A secure person will try things and be excited about both the process and the outcome. 

Confidence is being okay to step out of your comfort zone and take chances. When you do that, you grow your self-esteem even more

21) Being afraid to be yourself. 

Do you ever find that you’re one way in front of your friends, but a completely different way when it’s just you by yourself? 

Why are there different versions of you? It’s because you’re afraid to be yourself.

One can only hope you love yourself enough to be authentic and genuine. You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to show them the real you. Once they do, they’ll love you.

Ysolt Usigan Schmidt

Ysolt Usigan Schmidt

Ysolt Usigan is a lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years of experience working in digital media. She has created share-worthy content for publishers WomansDay.com, Shape, WhatToExpect, CafeMom, TODAY, CBSNews, HuffingtonPost, TheBump, Health Magazine, and AskMen. A working mom of two, her editorial expertise in relationships, spirituality, mental wellness, shopping, and home are rooted in her everyday life.

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