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How do you develop confidence?


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Old 14th April 2016, 2:49 PM   #1
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How do you develop confidence?

This is something I've struggled with my entire life. I'm currently a graduate student, and one of my professors told me that I'm doing quite well, and I know everything I need to know. Yet, he also told me that when I'm asked to explain something he can tell that I know the information, but that I sound hesitant. The final point of this conversation was that I need to be more confident in my knowledge.

He's not the first to say this to me. Once I was hanging out at a restaurant with a few friends, and a random drunk guy approached me. One of the things he said was, "You're pretty cool. But you need more confidence." I knew he was telling the truth. When I was younger I took dance lessons, and my teacher would say to me, "Stop being so hesitant and make those moves with confidence!" Several others have told me that I come across as slightly timid--this is something I am dying to change.

When I was younger, this lack of confidence when speaking didn't affect me so much. But now that I'm in twenties and will be going through job interviews pretty soon, I know that I have to sound confident when I speak.

What's the best way to practice this?
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Old 14th April 2016, 3:21 PM   #2
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By being more comfortable with the thought of failure, knowing that if that happens, you'll survive and be fine.


My guess is that you're a perfectionist, which will serve you well in some quarters but hold you back in others. Anything less than perfection is largely unacceptable, especially when other people are watching, and you don't want to risk looking like an idiot. The good news is that will rarely happen.


Confidence comes from plunging ahead, screwing up, and going back for more. I should know, I've had to deal with those tendencies myself.
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Old 14th April 2016, 3:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by GorillaTheater View Post
By being more comfortable with the thought of failure, knowing that if that happens, you'll survive and be fine.


My guess is that you're a perfectionist, which will serve you well in some quarters but hold you back in others. Anything less than perfection is largely unacceptable, especially when other people are watching, and you don't want to risk looking like an idiot. The good news is that will rarely happen.


Confidence comes from plunging ahead, screwing up, and going back for more. I should know, I've had to deal with those tendencies myself.
Yup this is good to know. You're absolutely right in that it's important to be comfortable with the thought of failure. That is how you learn from your mistakes.

I do tend to be a perfectionist, but I'm going to keep in mind that it's okay to face failure at times.
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Old 14th April 2016, 3:31 PM   #4
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I have messed up so many times.

The innateness to laugh at yourself really helps.

You mess up, have a laugh. Sometimes i have ..... up so badly there is only laughter left.

I have sat on the Tube sometimes, thinking, `well that could have gone better`

Then i am giggling to myself.

You learn from doing things wrong.

Good luck. (i just fell down a manhole typing this, it`s dark but quite funny`)
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Old 15th April 2016, 5:50 AM   #5
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Some thoughts

Try humor - even self deprecating humor is way of being forward to someone.

Working out - specifically things like weight lifting, martial arts, or competitive sports. Pumps up adrenaline gets you pumped up and confident and willing to push through.

Engage the other person - be inquisitive, and you might find things you share with them to be more engaging. Also people love talking about themselves and you can keep them going and going. Compliment them or sympathize with them. Often if you can keep a person going and feeling good about themselves - they are more friendly and that helps you engage more - also after talking about themselves for a long time even if you did not say much people walk away feeling "wow that person was so engaging and friendly"
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Old 15th April 2016, 10:41 AM   #6
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I'm a science professor - the grad school transition can be so disruptive because it hits you from both intellectual and social standpoints. In many ways, I view it as the worst time in my life but then when I go to research conferences, I'm a little envious that all the grad students and post-docs there are able to devote their 80-hour work weeks just to their research.

Anyway, speaking from experience, I think your hesitancy comes from what's called "analysis paralysis" in the No More Mr. Nice Guy vernacular (see the Robert Glover book) - your mind trying to work out all possible outcomes beforehand. Combine this with a fear of looking stupid or offending someone and you end up having a difficult time interacting with people when anything the least bit challenging comes up. I've read about a "blurt" exercise to help with this - sometimes if you feel yourself slipping into analysis paralysis focus on voicing the first thoughts that come into your head. Overall, try thinking of this as it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. Sure, blurting out wrong answers or somewhat odd comments may cause a little embarrassment from time to time but rarely is it even as close to as bad as what your mind has built up.
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Old 15th April 2016, 12:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disneyfan90 View Post
This is something I've struggled with my entire life. I'm currently a graduate student, and one of my professors told me that I'm doing quite well, and I know everything I need to know. Yet, he also told me that when I'm asked to explain something he can tell that I know the information, but that I sound hesitant. The final point of this conversation was that I need to be more confident in my knowledge.

He's not the first to say this to me. Once I was hanging out at a restaurant with a few friends, and a random drunk guy approached me. One of the things he said was, "You're pretty cool. But you need more confidence." I knew he was telling the truth. When I was younger I took dance lessons, and my teacher would say to me, "Stop being so hesitant and make those moves with confidence!" Several others have told me that I come across as slightly timid--this is something I am dying to change.

When I was younger, this lack of confidence when speaking didn't affect me so much. But now that I'm in twenties and will be going through job interviews pretty soon, I know that I have to sound confident when I speak.

What's the best way to practice this?
You highlighted speech as an area where you want to sound more confident - record yourself speaking normally and play it back. Sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how strange it is the first time.

Pay attention to the tonality of your voice. If your sentences 'rise' at the end, then people will likely interpret that as a lack of confidence. Big thing to avoid.
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Old 15th April 2016, 1:49 PM   #8
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Confidence also can be developed by "doing things"....

What things?

Anything.

For example, I was scared of tinkering with vehicles. My dad taught my dead sister to do it. Over the past year I started tinkering with my vehicles and it made me feel proud that "I", a woman could fine tune my vehicle.

I also do handi-work, landscaping, etc...stuff that I had to go and seek help on how to do.

When you do things, you develop confidence in yourself. In one example you used - the speaking, I almost volunteered to go to Toastmaster events, because I did a search on how to improve public speaking - cuz I realized that I get nervous when talking to others. Well, while I didn't volunteer for Toastmaster events, I put myself in situations where I "had" to speak (i.e. in class projects I volunteered to do the presentation for the team, at work I volunteered to conduct training sessions). And, here I am...although I feel like I'm wetting my pants when I stand up and give briefs, I'm so darn good that after the brief people come up to me to compliment me.

In the military, it took me figuring this out "after" I left the military. I finally figured out the purpose behind those stupid obstacle courses - to develop confidence and teamwork. When you see ourself climbing up something so tall, figuring out how to get across a creek, you feel good about yourself that "you" did it. You get confidence in yourself and your abilities.

So, go out there and challenge yourself. Join a softball team. Make a goal at the gym. Volunteer in class/school activities. Pick up a hobby. At work, ask for different tasks/training.

Good luck!!!
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Old 15th April 2016, 3:13 PM   #9
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I agree with the Fear of Failure comment. I think there are two types of people when it comes to Fear of Failure. One type may feel scared or hesitant with regard to whatever it is that they are challenged with doing because they fear failing at it.

The second type of people will sort of attack the challenge with the courage and conviction necessary to overcome it. The idea here is that because this second group fears failure, they are driven to overachieve in order to prevent failure.
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