Confidence with People

WITH CONFIDENCE YOU’RE MORE attractive and likable, and you feel better than when you lack confidence. You’ve experienced the truth of that statement many times in your life. But isn’t confidence something you either have or don’t, something you’re either born with or not? Can you deliberately become confident?

I’m confident you can.

You see, if we just use a synonym for confident, the way becomes obvious. One of its synonyms is “certain.” And it is true that you feel confident wherever you have a lot of certainty. Think about it. For a teenage boy who wants to talk to a girl he likes, he may feel very awkward and not confident at all. But if he knew a lot about computers, and she was having a problem with a computer and asked his help, he could help her and feel confident doing so. Why? Because he would know what he was talking about. People feel confident when they are certain.

Therefore, wherever you would like to feel confident, develop more certainty about it. And I don’t mean an attitude of certainty, I mean to develop real honest-to-goodness, actual certainty.

If, for example, you have to get up and speak to a group next week and you don’t feel confident about it, start working to develop some degree of certainty: Talk to the people you need to talk to and find out who will be there and what they are expecting, and then prepare thoroughly. The more you prepare, rehearse, talk about what you will say to your friends, make notes, do research, the more certain you will be and the more confident you will feel.

As another example, a shy person might feel a lack of confidence meeting new people. When she’s introduced, she feels like running away. This is very common. Why? Because a new person is — by definition — unknown. Our shy person is not certain about anything except the person’s name (and if she is too distracted by her nervousness, she’ll quickly lose her certainty about that too).

But surprisingly, even with a person you’ve never met before, you can know with certainty quite a bit about him. And our shy person can increase her certainty and therefore her confidence when dealing with people by:

Learning more about the human nature we all have in common.
Learning more about manners (so you’re certain about what should be done when).
Learning strategies for getting to know someone.

You can learn human nature and manners and strategies so well you have a high degree of certainty about those things. This would add up to more confidence around people — even people you’ve never met before. A good book to start with is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

But there are many ways to gain certainty about people, and each one increases your feeling of confidence a little more. Confidence is not on or off; there are many shades of gray from No Confidence to Absolute Confidence. Any actions you take to increase your level of certainty slides you over a little more toward Absolute Confidence.

Increase your certainty about how to act.

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