Do you inspire confidence in your clients? Recently I enjoyed a staycation and participated in several online quilting classes. For me, an experienced quilter, it was a joyous experience and a chance to learn from expert teachers. My fellow students and I sewed and chatted via Zoom, and then shared our projects at the end of each class.
What I found interesting was the range of confidence in my classmates. Some appeared to be extremely self-assured and yet their finished projects were (in my opinion) pretty shoddy. And then there were quiet participants who I guessed to be novices – until I viewed their work and recognized how good it was. The experience was a reminder that self-confidence is subjective and that a confident delivery can disguise a lack of skill.
Our previous president is a good example of the power of confidence. According to the Washington Post Fact Checker team, he told more than 30,000 untruths during his presidency. Yet each one was delivered with such confidence and conviction that it was tough to believe the conflicting views of his milder-mannered experts. (Source) Even blatently stupid ideas — such as drinking bleach to clear covid from your lungs — were accepted as true by some of his followers because it was delivered with confidence.
Confident people inspire confidence, which is why it is an essential for small business owners. You are more likely to attract clients if you speak, look and sound confident.
10 Ways to Become More Confident
Becoming more confident is something that you can learn. Here are ten ways that you can improve your confidence:
- Watch your body language. You will look and feel more confident if you stand tall and adopt an open posture. According to a study conducted by Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School, adopting a high-power pose for two minutes – such as standing with your legs apart and your hands on your hips — can cause a 20 percent increase in testosterone and a 25 percent decrease in cortisol. (Source)
- Smile. I invested in braces when I turned 40-years-old. Having metal on my teeth made me extremely self-conscious and I was embarrassed to smile. Once the braces came off, however, it made a huge difference in my confidence — and there’s a physiological reason for this. Not only does smiling make you look happier and more approachable, Researcher Isha Gupta, MD, a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine found that smiling triggers the hormones dopamine and serotonin. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression,” says Dr. Gupta. “Low levels of dopamine are also associated with depression. … Taking a moment to smile throughout your day will chemically enhance your perception of events and make you feel more confident over time.” (Source)
- Create a confidence-boosting playlist. There’s a reason that sports teams listen to “We Are the Champions” and not “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” According to a study by Dennis Y. Hsu, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, bass-heavy music can make you more confident. “The effect of music appears to manifest itself not only in its ability to entertain,” says Hsu, “but also in the ability to imbue humans with a real sense of power.” (Source)
- Act like someone you admire. Do you know someone who has the courage and confidence that you desire? Pretend you are them. It could be a relative (such as your fearless grandmother), an acquaintance (such as an outspoken restaurant owner in your town), a TV character (such as Marge Simpson), or a famous person (such Michelle Obama). I know several female business owners who ask themselves “What Would Oprah Do?” before they make a decision. Borrow their courage and act accordingly.
- Take care of your physical and mental health. It’s hard to be confident when you’re feeling unmotivated, sluggish, or depressed. Make sure that you eat healthy foods, drink enough water, and get enough sleep. The American Psychological Association says exercise can improve your mood and — along with regular treatment and therapy — combat anxiety and depression, as well as improve your confidence. Not only does sticking to a new healthy habit make you feel more confident, but you can also spot physical improvements to your body and health over the long term. (Source)
- Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s always interesting to talk to someone after seeing their vacation pictures on Facebook. I usually have a severe case of FOMO as I view their scrumptious meals and beachfront accommodation. What the photos don’t show are the lost luggage, family squabbles, ER visit due to food poisoning, and the ant infestation at their B&B. The same is true for comparing ourselves to other business owners. While we can view their curated life on Instagram, the truth is that things are tougher than they look. Comparing your messy real life to a social media account has the potential to destroy your confidence.
- Practice self-compassion. Self-compassion means that you treat yourself with kindness when you make a mistake or fail. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Personality found that self-compassion contributes to more consistent confidence. Instead of beating yourself up, acknowledge that being imperfect is part of life. (Source)
- Dress for success. How you dress can help you to think and behave differently. Dr. Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, found that participants in a study who wore a white lab coat exhibited more focused attention. In other words, when people dressed like a doctor, they behaved more like how they thought a doctor might behave. If you want to feel more confident, dress like the confident version of yourself. (Source)
- Accept that failure is part of success. A Google search for quotes about “failure being part of success” revealed 294 million results. All of these quotes say virtually the same thing – you cannot succeed without failure and, when you fail, use it as a learning opportunity and continue to move forward. If you do some research on your favorite “overnight success,” I bet you’ll discover that their journey was not as easy as you think.
- Get comfortable with rejection. Nobody likes rejection, which is why I was so impressed with Jia Jiang’s 100 Days of Rejection challenge. To try and overcome his fear of rejection, Jia Jiang decided to make an unusual request each day for 100 days. Some of these requests were to speak over Costco’s intercom, buy one-quarter of a shrimp, and borrow a book from Barnes & Noble. Overcoming rejection will boost your confidence and make you less afraid to take risks