Confidence is power. You can be the most well-educated, most brilliant, best-looking person in the room, but without confidence, you’re likely at a disadvantage.
The truth is that your more self-assured counterpart will almost always have the edge, regardless of their background.
The good news is that confidence, like anything in life, can be developed over time. So if you feel you’re lacking in this department, it’s time we fix things.
In this article, I’ll go through certain habits people who lack confidence tend to have. Once you start avoiding these behaviors and adopting the right mindset, you’ll naturally become more confident.
We’ll take it a step at a time. Let’s dive in!
When you’re built on shaky foundations, you tend to act like it.
A telltale sign of weakness is saying ‘you’re sorry’ even though there’s nothing to be sorry for, such as when you aren’t at fault or are dealing with things that are out of your control.
Over-apologizing shows an inferior nature, which is synonymous with a lack of confidence. You’re not used to success, and it’s obvious.
And though this is behavior rooted in people pleasing, it can backfire and have the opposite effect: it projects how uncertain you are of your own actions and opinions. And eventually, this can be a turn off.
Maybe it’s my anxious and neurotic nature but in my early twenties, I used to say sorry all the time. When I got my first job, for instance, I was constantly apologizing when things didn’t go smoothly at work (and occasionally, even when they did.)
I was so desperate for a job that when I finally got one, I would overthink everything. The constant second-guessing made me seem weak and vulnerable to my superiors and colleagues (it probably was a bit annoying too.)
Only years later did I realize my inherent value, that I was as qualified and capable to be there as much as anyone, and that the company was lucky to have me.
2) Self-deprecating quips
Everybody loves a comedian.
Self-deprecating humor can be both hilarious and endearing in moderate doses, but once it becomes an extension of your personality, your lack of confidence will begin to rear its ugly head.
It will show that humor and putting yourself down are your emotional crutches. This is uncomfortable for people to be around once it becomes the norm, as your low self-esteem becomes increasingly evident.
I know, many of the top funnymen and women of the world from Larry David to Conan O’Brien to Amy Schumer excel in self-deprecating humor.
But the thing is, they’re professionals and know how to deliver a joke with finesse.
Despite all the wisecracks, I think it’s a safe assumption that they also know their value as performers and ultimately, they have a high degree of belief in themselves.
You should be this way too.
Self-deprecating humor is fantastic and funny, but try not to cross the line.
3) Difficulty accepting compliments
Let me ask: When someone says you’re good-looking or smart, do you struggle to believe them or brush them off almost instantly?
This is a pretty profound indicator of your lack of belief in yourself and what you bring to the table.
Maybe the other person gives you positive feedback about your sense of style, and you think they’re being sarcastic or joking.
This is because you have a negative self-image.
Once you develop that confidence, you’ll take compliments at face value. You’ll realize that nobody is out to get you.
You’ll also begin to understand that the best, most appropriate response to any positive feedback should be a simple “thank you” and moving on to the next topic.
4) Avoiding eye contact
Confident people can regularly meet people’s gaze without breaking it.
Now I don’t mean creepily ogling someone–confident people tend to be able to pick up social cues and have the emotional intelligence to know when a bit of eye contact is necessary and when it isn’t.
Remember, body language can account for anywhere from 70 to 95 percent of our communication.
Being unable to make eye contact is almost always associated with insecurity, distrust, or anxiety—frankly, not the greatest attributes when attempting to make an impression.
Locking eyes might just feel a little too close to comfort when you’re lacking in confidence.
But the truly self-assured person knows the importance of things like eye contact and good posture in advancing one’s self in a social setting.
So next time you’re immersed in conversation with someone, remember that the occasional bit of eye contact certainly won’t go amiss.
5) Having a perfectionist mentality
You’re human. You’re allowed to be wrong from time to time.
The unconfident person is constantly nitpicking every minor and inconsequential detail in their work or interactions, as they’re afraid of scrutiny or judgment.
Sure, striving for excellence is one thing, but if you’re never satisfied with your output until it’s perfect, obsessively analyzing it and even losing sleep, then this says more about you than anything.
Maybe you consider your work a direct reflection of your inner self, thus to compensate for your lack of confidence, you overdo it. This mindset needs to go.
Work hard but also realize that the odd mistake is part of the human experience.
Bottom line: Self-confident individuals can accept their flaws and mistakes, learn from them, and move on.
And if you need assistance, don’t be afraid to ask for help…
6) Fear of asking for help
Here’s the thing: some people are so proud that they refuse to ask for help. But I’ll tell you this much: that kind of pride is rooted in a lack of confidence.
People who are comfortable with themselves have no qualms about asking for help. They understand that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness and is actually a display of initiative and assertiveness.
The person who isn’t confident thinks they’re expected to know it all. Anything less and in their mind, they risk being considered incompetent, often to the detriment of their productivity.
This isn’t just stubbornness, it signifies a lack of belief in one’s self. And trust me, nobody from your boss to your spouse wants this mentality around them.
So start asking for help when you feel it’s necessary, it’ll make your life far easier.
I was wandering around New York City last year when my phone died. Eventually, I got lost somewhere in Harlem. I needed to get to the subway but ended up going in circles for at least an hour.
So cautious of being labeled an annoying, clueless tourist was I that I refused to ask for help.
I didn’t want to be laughed nor did I want to bother these busy, intimidating-looking New Yorkers going about their day.
Eventually, I was exasperated enough to give in, asking a middle-aged woman in a pantsuit for directions. To my surprise, she turned out incredibly kind and helpful.
Less than five minutes later I was on the C train back to Brooklyn.
The moral of the story? Asking for directions isn’t a weakness but a strength–one that will help you get to your destination.
7) Frequent agreement to avoid conflict
Real talk: stop being so agreeable.
If you find yourself constantly agreeing even when you actually have a differing opinion, make it known in an assertive but gentle way instead of bowing down to others by default.
Don’t cower in fear, afraid to ruffle feathers, just to be considered pleasant and uncontroversial.
Remember, the iconic figures in history didn’t reach such towering heights by staying neutral and safe, averse to conflict.
Sometimes, you have to rock the boat a little bit, even if it means disagreeing and being a little dangerous.
Be proud of yourself without being arrogant. Once you master that balance, there’ll be no turning back.
Just to reinforce this point, allow me to quote the late great Nelson Mandela: “Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
As established, confidence isn’t something you’re born with; it’s more like a muscle that needs to be strengthened.
So, if you’re noticing these signs in your life, don’t be too hard on yourself! We all have our less-than-perfect moments; this is just part of being human.
The best approach is to actively believe in yourself—it’s in picking yourself up and dusting off those insecurities. Sometimes, all it takes is a eureka moment for that confidence to build.
Start with the small stuff. Fake it till you make it, if you have to.
Make eye contact and stand tall, accept compliments with a ‘thank you’, and don’t be afraid to say no from time to time. Nobody’s perfect–not you, not me, not Beyonce.
At the end of the day, confidence isn’t about being perfect; it’s about embracing your uniqueness, mind, body, and soul.
So get out there, and show the world what you’re made of. I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll get where you want to be sooner than later.