10 years ago I was a shy introvert with crippling low self-esteem. Now in the last year of my 20s, my friends can hardly believe that I’m an introvert. Even new acquaintances have told me they wished they had my confidence and strength to voice my opinions. So today I thought I’d share with you 8 tips that helped me grow my confidence.
#1. Don’t let them walk all over you with questions – As a shy introvert, I always struggled when talking to aggressive extroverts. They always seemed to have an endless supply of questions they were waiting to drill me with, and by the end of the conversation I would feel drained and exposed while learning little about them. Once I learned how to protect myself from a barrage of questions (more on this below), I felt much happier and much more confident when meeting new people.
#2. Choose who deserves to hear your story – Brené Brown explains how you should have a list of people who you share your story with. These are the people whose opinions matter the most. This literally changed the way I perceived relationships and was incredibly freeing. You could be the nicest person in the world and someone would still hate you. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor or how frugal you are, someone will inevitably judge you. So instead of worrying about what others will think of your story, choose who gets to hear it. You don’t have to share it with that one girl that’s always being critical of you. You don’t have to share it with that guy that’s always looking down on you. You don’t have to share it with that stranger you might never see again. Master craftsmen never spilled their secrets to freshly appointed apprentices. Neither should you.
#3. You don’t have to explain everything in full detail – One thing I really struggled with was when people asked me where I was from. Because I’ve lived half of my life in the States and half of my life in Korea, explaining where I’m from has always been a tricky ordeal. Since I don’t want to hash out my life history to every person I encounter, I now tailor my response to whoever is asking. Currently if a foreigner living in Seoul asks me where I’m from the answer is Seattle. If a Korean asks I just tell them the city I’m living in. This way I’ve answered the question, and avoid having to recount my life history to a stranger. It also gives me space to reciprocate the question and keep the conversation balanced!
#4. Ask open-ended questions – Whether you’re trying to keep a conversation going or want a response to your presentation, it’s generally best to ask open-ended questions rather than something that will end in yes or no. This gives them a chance to voice their opinion and makes it easier to continue an interesting conversation!
#5. Confidence is magnetic– When I see a confident person speaking I am interested in what they have to say and admire their passion and enthusiasm. When someone is quiet or mumbling and looking like they’d like nothing better than to hide in a hole, it makes me cringe along with them. I think people want and appreciate people who are confident when they speak. When you want to share your passion, people get that positive vibe. If the last thing you want to do is talk to them, they’ll feel that too. I can’t think of a single time where I was watching a confident person and thought, oh they’re so stupid, or oh they’re just making a fool of themselves. So even if you don’t feel confident, if you go through the motions people will respond with appreciation. If you make a mistake, just correct yourself or laugh it off. Chances are they’ll chuckle along with you. Once you try it and see that people are actually interested in what you have to say, you realize that it’s not that hard or scary.
#6. Practice makes perfect – There were a few times after making a presentation where someone came up to me and told me I was a natural at presenting and they wished they could do the same. I was surprised but had to duck my head to smile because I am not a natural at all. I tend to practice for my presentations until I can go through the whole thing without looking at the slides. I find that the best place to do this is in the shower. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts in the shower without any distractions, so I just present the content to myself in the shower. This is great because you’ll quickly find out which parts you tend to stumble over, and where you lose your train of thought. So don’t be fooled by the ease of which someone is presenting. They’ve probably spent a great deal of time practicing to get through it smoothly. Even having a simple conversation with a stranger was hard for me 10 years ago. I never knew what to say and constantly worried over what the other person would think. I’ve had many cringe-worthy conversations before I got the hang of it. Start taking note of the questions other people ask and work them into your repertoire until you get comfortable. Think of it as learning how to ride a bike. You might need training wheels at first, but soon you’ll be riding chill without them!
#7. Don’t waste your time on naysayers – There will always be trolls and haters wherever you go. There will even be those who claim to be your friend but have no genuine interest in what you have to say. Don’t let them beat down your self-esteem and confidence! If you can’t find sensible supportive people around you, look online! These days there’s a forum for pretty much every topic imaginable where people who share your interests will be happy to obsess over it with you.
#8. Stop over-analyzing things – These days I have so many friends who over-analyze things going on in social media. Why didn’t she like my post? Why didn’t he follow me? Let’s be realistic here. It’s impossible to read and like everything on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Chances are they saw it in passing as they were scrolling down, or they didn’t see at all due to the amount of posts in their feed. Remind yourself that even you don’t have the time to keep track of all the likes and follows of every single acquaintance that you have. Don’t let social media be the measuring stick of your self confidence. It would be a shame to presume that friendship can only be measured in the number of likes. I may not like every single post my friends make, but I believe in spending quality time with them and listening to what they have to say.
I hope you find these tips to be helpful and encouraging. Don’t give up after the first couple of times. Confidence takes time to build so go at it a little at a time!
Your turn ♥ Have you ever lacked confidence in talking to other people? What tips do you have for being confident?