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12 Unexpected Ways To Boost Self-Confidence You Should Try

12 Unexpected Ways To Boost Self-Confidence You Should Try

In order to boost self-confidence, you need to own your self-confidence. Do you depend too much on others’ opinions of you? Are you crushed by an inconsiderate statement from a co-worker? Scrap that way of thinking and know everything is on you. Only YOU have the power to be confident, and to help your confidence grow. Once you own it, try out these simple, unexpected ways you can boost your self-confidence even higher.

1. Look good.

You know how uncomfortable you feel when you wear dress shoes that are too stiff to move your toes, or a high-necked shirt, or anything else that doesn’t make you feel like your true self? It’s hard to be confident when you’re uncomfortable! Now imagine how comfortable you feel in your worn-in jeans and favorite t-shirt. Totally different, right? You feel sure of yourself because you feel like yourself. Looking good isn’t just about looking polished and put together – looking good is about feeling good! Make sure you’re wearing clothes that fit you well and look nice on you. Style your hair in a flattering way, brush your teeth until they shine, pluck and groom and do whatever you need to look good, and you’ll feel confident!

2. Smile in the mirror.

It sounds silly, but it helps! Instead of brushing your teeth and then frowning at your reflection, smile! Even if you don’t like what you see, a smile will help turn your attitude around. Even if you start with a fake smile, the action itself will affect you, and before you know it that smile will reach your eyes and turn genuine. Also know smiles make people look more attractive, so this goes hand in hand with looking good! Smiles make you more appealing to others, so if you smile as you walk the halls at work or check out at the grocery store, you’re more likely to feel confident because other people will smile back at you.

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3. Change your body language.

Everyone criticizes tall people who fold themselves into parenthesis, and it’s true – posture and body language say a lot about your confidence level! If you’re tall, stand proud! If you’re short, own every inch! Own your body and stand and walk proudly in it. Also, don’t act meek – not only will others think you’re timid, you’ll start to feel that way yourself! If you shoot your hand up to talk in a meeting, or go out of your way to get attention to speak to someone, you’ll come across as confident, and start to feel that way yourself – even if you’re just acting!

4. Think positive.

How you think influences so much about yourself, your day, your attitude, and your confidence. If you always expect the worst, then you’re more than likely always hunched over with a sad look on your face, defeated before you even begin. If you worry all the time, your fingernails might be bitten to the quick and your lip chewed until it bleeds. Thinking positive means you have faith in yourself, which will not only affect your body language, but changes your brain around. Instead of worrying about a work presentation, you might even be excited for it because you know it’s time for you to show off all you can do!

5. Kill negative thoughts.

This sounds like another way to word “think positive,” but it’s different! Killing negative thoughts means you don’t allow negative thoughts to take over your mind. Sometimes thinking positively seems too hard because you’re already down in the dumps and it seems impossible to climb out. Instead of getting to that point, be proactive and kill negative thoughts as they occur. When you find yourself thinking “This is too hard. I can’t do it. I’m going to go play a game instead,” squash these thoughts as if it were a bug! Replace it with a positive spin like, “This is so hard, but I’m going to do it to prove I can.” Instead of feeling like you have to pull yourself out of the dumps, you’ll feel like you’re conquering negativity and giving yourself an extra push ahead.

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6. Learn to accept failure.

If you got passed over for a promotion at work, don’t get depressed about it. Accept it as a failure and move on. The quicker you can accept and move past failure, the quicker you will be able to improve yourself and reach for bigger and better goals next time. Letting failure cripple you will make you insecure overall, and make it harder for you to boost your confidence later.

7. Improve your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (also called “EQ”) is the ability to evaluate and control your emotions, and better understand others’ emotions. Some people think EQ is just as important as IQ, because it’s so important for social interactions and relating to other people. If you can better understand and control your emotions, you’ll feel more confident in daily life because you won’t worry about breaking down when the going gets tough, or flying off the handle if your boss yells at you. It also helps because you’ll feel stronger and you will more easily relate to those around you, which will make you feel confident because people will come to you for advice and a listening ear.

8. Practice proficiency.

The better you are at what you do, the more confident you’ll feel about it. Think of how satisfied you feel when you go to work, do your best, and go home knowing you’ve made a difference that day. You can do this in every aspect of your daily life by practicing what you do, studying, and trying to find new ways to make things easier to do while producing better results.

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9. Avoid perfectionism.

No one is perfect, so don’t pressure yourself to do everything right. This goes along with accepting failure, because you need to know you don’t have to be perfect. It’s ok to send out an email with a typo in it – don’t beat yourself up! Correct yourself, or make sure to double-check next time. If you don’t expect yourself to be perfect all of the time, you’ll feel less pressure, so you’ll be more comfortable in your skin – and more confident in your abilities!

10. Celebrate your achievements.

Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back when you meet a goal! Even if it’s the easiest item on your to-do list, recognize you have accomplished it and get pleasure from that. Sometimes you might be the only one who acknowledges any success. Don’t depend on praise from your boss, or even family members. If you congratulate yourself for your achievements, then you’ll be giving yourself a confidence boost that will push you to accomplish even more in the future.

11. Do a good deed.

What makes you feel better than doing something nice for someone else? You can volunteer, give your change to a homeless person on the street, pay for the order of the person behind you, or even give an honest compliment. Making someone else feel good is going to make you feel good in return. Once you start doing good deeds, you’ll find they come easily, and improving others’ days so often will definitely make you feel more confident!

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12. Seek your passion.

How happy do you feel when you’re doing what you love? Are you passionate about art, or writing, or interior design? Or even your job? Find what you love to do, and make as much time to do it as you possibly can. Doing something you love and are good at will make you feel confident because you feel proud of yourself and productive with what you’ve done. This will help boost your confidence so you’ll excel in other areas of your life, also!

Featured photo credit: NomadicLass via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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