If someone displays these 8 subtle behaviors, they’re not as confident as they seem

That girl who’s always the center of attention? She seems quite confident, doesn’t she?

And what about the tough guy who never shows weakness? Or the man who acts like he knows everything?

Surely, those people’s confidence levels must be through the roof.

Well, actually…

The opposite is the case. A lack of confidence can take on many forms, one of which is a mask of self-assuredness that only serves to hide the self-esteem issues hidden underneath.

If someone displays these 8 subtle behaviors, they’re not as confident as they seem.

1) They bring up their achievements way too often

It may seem like a confident thing to do to sprinkle one’s achievements throughout every conversation. After all, this shows the person is proud of themselves, right?

Well, let’s just say there’s more to this subtle behavior than meets the eye.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely great to be proud of what you’ve accomplished in life. And mentioning it from time to time isn’t a big deal.

But if someone talks about their achievements almost every time they have a conversation with you, no matter how subtle those mentions may be, the reason they do so is that they’re actually not as confident as they’d like to be – and they want that confidence boost from you.

By trying to impress you, they are also trying to get validation. And in the end, this is exactly what distinguishes them from people who are truly confident.


Because genuine confidence doesn’t rely on other people’s approval. It comes from within.

2) They’re “Hermione Grangering” their way through life

Hermione Grangering, a term coined by me at this precise minute, is what happens when someone’s a teacher’s pet – in all areas of life.

If the person in the first row always lifts up their hand to answer the teacher’s question or the co-worker at the next desk always tries their hardest to win employee of the month, the impression we get is that of self-assuredness.

Those people know just how smart and hard-working they are. And they’re not afraid to show it, no matter how annoying their behavior can be.

But guess what?

I was Hermione Grangering all throughout high school. And I wouldn’t call myself confident back then. More often than not, I strived to impress and get in the teachers’ good books because I felt that I wasn’t worthy of love without external accomplishments or praise.

Acting like you know it all often points to a lack of self-esteem rather than too much of it.

3) They need to be perfect 100% of the time

Perfectionism is yet another trait that serves to hide low confidence, even though it looks like the exact opposite at first glance.

If you try your hardest to nail everything and do your best work, that’s a sign you’re pushing yourself and believe in your ability to do better, right?

Sometimes, yes. But often, perfectionists actually aren’t all that confident because if they don’t deliver what they consider their absolute best, they feel like they’ve failed.

And that’s because they struggle to accept themselves at their most ordinary and messy.

But coming to terms with one’s chaotic humanity is where true excellence thrives.

Sometimes, it really is better to give it your 80% if that’s all you have. You can never reach perfection. All you can do is find peace and joy in imperfection.

4) They have a troubled relationship with compliments

If someone isn’t as confident as they seem, you can generally tell based on two opposite behaviors – they either struggle to accept compliments, or they fish for them on purpose.

While the first kind gets uncomfortable upon receiving a compliment because they inherently don’t believe it, the latter is so obsessed with seeking external validation that they will go out of their way to get a compliment from you, for example by asking you, “Do you think I’m X and Y?” or by saying, “You’re so X! I’m not X at all…”

Genuine confidence lies in the middle. If someone’s truly self-assured, they will accept your compliment with grace, say a simple “Thank you” and perhaps compliment you back.

5) They’re a bit too controlling

image 11.20 1 If someone displays these 8 subtle behaviors, they're not as confident as they seem

In recent years, I’ve learned plenty of things about myself, one of which is the fact that I try to exhibit too much control over my life because I don’t trust my future self to deal with different issues that come her way.

For example, I might obsess over the fact that I don’t know what my financial situation will be like in two years, trying my hardest not to spend money on anything in the present moment although I have no clue what will happen two years from now on.

I might win a lottery for all I know.

Since I learned this little fact about myself, I’ve been actively trying to live in the present moment and repeat positive affirmations when anxiety washes over me. And the more my confidence grows, the better I get at handling uncertainty.

So, if someone’s a bit too controlling… it may be because they don’t trust themselves enough to just relax.

6) They struggle to accept criticism

“I really didn’t like that joke you made. It was hurtful.”

“Oh, please. You’re just too sensitive. I like making jokes. I’m a jokey person. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Upon hearing a reply like that, your instinct might be to think the person is very confident.

They’re so sure of themselves and what they stand for that they refuse to back down and change their personality – even at the cost of your friendship.

Well, it’s actually not as simple as that. In fact, the person you’re talking to might be very insecure, which is exactly why they can’t accept criticism and change their behavior – to them, any piece of criticism is an attack on their whole identity, and if they can’t defend their identity, they will have to admit they don’t like themselves very much.

Which will absolutely shatter them.

Therefore, they dig their heels in and stubbornly defend themselves instead of offering a simple apology and slightly tweaking their behavior in the future.

7) They don’t root for others (although they might say otherwise)

I used to have a friend who said she was my number one fan.

Except every time I shared an achievement with her, her lack of joy seeped life out of me, deflating my excitement and making me feel worse.

After multiple in-depth conversations, I realized that she was motivated by envy and spite much more than inspiration and optimism. She didn’t root for me because every success I had only served as proof I was “better”, giving rise to bitterness rather than genuine joy.

It’s safe to say our friendship didn’t withstand the bitterness poisoning the air, and we ended up going our separate ways after long years of friendship.

I knew my friend very well, and although I could tell that her spite was a result of low self-esteem, I couldn’t handle it anymore.

So, if someone doesn’t root for others (although they might say they do)… they’re not as confident as they seem.

8) They’re all about status symbols

That friend who’s just bought a BMW and drives it everywhere to show off?

He looks like he’s on top of the world, but the truth is that he struggles with confidence so much that he uses any status symbol he can get his hands on to receive validation and praise.

Of course, I’m not saying that driving a BMW or buying a Chanel bag is inherently bad. But there’s a difference between living a wealthy lifestyle because you genuinely enjoy it and doing it because you rely on material possessions to impress other people.

If you buy a Chanel bag as an investment or because you love the design and quality, it’s different from buying it just to get compliments or envious glances from your friends.

In fact, Thomas J. Stanley explains in his book The Millionaire Next Door that many millionaires don’t actually live in up-scale neighborhoods or drive expensive cars.

They’re rich because they want to have freedom over their time and choices, not because they strive to keep up with the Joneses.

You won’t find true confidence in a BMW. You’ll find it within yourself.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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