“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Fear exists at the heart of every unfulfilled dream. If there is something in our life that we want, we are going to have to confront some fears in order to get it. Having confidence in our ability to achieve goals, to move forward in the face of fear, and to accomplish our desires, is critical if we are going to live a life that is personally fulfilling and meaningful. Not everyone is born with natural confidence. Some people struggle, and for many people, difficult circumstances in their own lives can really impact their self confidence.
So what can be done? Anyone can develop more self confidence if they take some simple actions and, more importantly, build these actions into habits.
Here are 10 ways to instantly have confidence.
1. Put a Little Effort Into Our Appearance
Sounds simple, but it really works. When we put effort into our appearance, our dress, and our grooming, we feel better about ourselves. Does this mean that we have to be savvy to all the latest fashions and spend a large chunk of our savings on wardrobe upgrades? Not likely. The most important thing is that we build a habit of doing the best with what we have, and small simple improvements in the ways we present ourselves will have a positive impact on how we feel and our confidence. A secret weapon when it comes to our appearance: shoes. Take good care of our shoes. Upgrade them if necessary. Good looking shoes go a long way for a good feeling person.Advertising
2. Do An Act Of Service For Someone Else
This is critical. We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to our emotions. Many times, we feel bad about ourselves simply because we are focused too much on “our self”. Getting outside of the self can be truly refreshing, empowering and goes a long way to building your self confidence. Where to start? Look around, there are people everywhere. Find someone and do something nice for them. Then find someone else and do something nice for them. After a while, you’ll be amazed at how great you feel.
3. Be Prepared
Sometimes a lack of confidence is as simple as a lack of preparation. Nervous about that job interview? How well did we prepare? Nervous about that upcoming exam? How well did we study? Nervous about not making those sales targets? What was our preparation like? How effectively did we work? Action is the best antidote to anxiety and fear. Being perfectly prepared for whatever we are about to do will give us confidence. When we know that we have made the best possible preparations for what we are about to do, we will be more confident.
4. Take A Look At Our Posture
Seems funny, but it actually works. How do you stand? Do you slouch? What is your posture like when you are sitting? When you stand up straight, and sit with correct posture in your chair, you feel better about yourself. You’re able to breath easier and this oxygen supply does wonders for your brain and our body. You need oxygen to feel good and sometimes your lack of oxygen can be traced to poor posture.Advertising
5. Set a “Micro-Goal” And Achieve It
Confidence is based on a belief that we are capable of achieving things, therefore we don’t need to be scared. Sometimes we get into a rut where we don’t feel like we are capable of achieving anything. When this happens it can be hard to start, and big goals seem almost out of the question. So what you need to do in this instance is to set a “micro-goal” and then achieve it. A “micro-goal” is a very small goal that is in your power. For instance, if you have a sales based career, simply make a goal of picking up the phone and calling 5 people. Don’t even focus on making a sale. Just achieve the goal of calling. Why does this work? Because it gives you momentum and it signals the brain that you can achieve things. If you do it over and over and over again – set a small goal and then achieve it – you’ll will be pleasantly surprised at how you feel.
7. Change One Tiny Habit
When we get stuck in a “confidence rut” it can be very hard to change major habits. We just don’t believe that we are capable of change, and we don’t have the momentum to support our desire. So I’m not talking about changing big habits here, like “stop smoking”. I’m talking about tiny habits, like making a bed, or waking up 10 minutes earlier, or choosing a salad instead of fries. Tiny habits work because, like setting micro-goals, they give us momentum. Once you change one thing, you’ll want to change others, and best of all, you develop confidence from your past victories. Since you have changed one thing, you know you are capable of changing others.
Sounds trite, but it really works. When we smile we are happier. When we are happier we have more self-confidence. It’s also contagious. Think about you day-to-day life. When you go for a coffee break and the server gives you a warm smile, does it make you upset? Does it make you angry and really depressed? Not at all. Sometimes that little gesture is exactly what you need to make you feel better about what is otherwise a difficult day. When you smile, and when others smile at you, we all feel better. When you feel better, you have more confidence.Advertising
9. Make A List of 10 Things That We Are Grateful For
Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools against depression and lack of confidence. What is one of the quickest ways to feel grateful? Simply make a list. Make a list of 10 things that you are grateful for. When the list is done, read it. By the time you’ve done that, you’re sure to feel better about yourself. You realize that life isn’t that bad and that there are many good things in your life, right now. This attitude of gratitude helps you feel more confident about moving forward and making new things happen.
10. Get Active and Start Exercising
As Tony Robbins has said, “emotion is created by motion”. If we want to feel good, we need to move and breathe. Moving increases our oxygen intake which increases our happiness and general sense of well being. Exercising cuts fat, builds muscle and improves our skin tone and appearance. We will instantly feel better because of the oxygen intake, but if we make this step a lasting habit, we will also soon reap the benefits of looking into the mirror and being pleased with the results that we see – results that we have created through our actions. This will increase our confidence.
Last Updated on January 15, 2019
How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward
Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?
In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
Step right up, don’t be shy!
Table of Contents
Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers
The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:
Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers
Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers. Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!
A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.
Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary
Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.
When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.
We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.
I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.
The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.
Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness
Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.
1. Broadens Your Network
After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.
2. Improves Your Communication Skills
I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.
Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.
3. Continually Learning
So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.
Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.
4. Increases Self Confidence
Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.
Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.
So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?
How to Talk to Strangers
Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
1. Say Hello
Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.
Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.
Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.
2. Ask About Them
Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.
You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.
As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.
3. Just Do It
One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.
When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.
Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.
4. Don’t Take It Personal
One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.
When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.
5. Get a Chuckle If Possible
I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.
One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.
A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.
Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.
7. Share Your Stories
Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.
To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.
So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.
8. Give a Compliment
Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.
When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.
9. Relax Your Body Language
If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.
When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.
If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.
After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.
The Bottom Line
As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!
There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.
Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.
More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- 12 Tactics to Negotiate Better and Not Be a Pushover
- 7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace
- How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way
- How to Handle Rejection and Overcome the Fear of Being Rejected
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com
|||^||Dev Psychobiol.: Adrenocortical responses to strangers in preschoolers: relations with parenting, temperament, and psychopathology.|
|||^||Psychology Today: Cortisol: Why the “Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1|