Business, Career, Health/Life

How to build confidence: strategies, exercises and tips

how to build confidence

Image via: Pexels

Complete guide on how to build confidence that outlines the best strategies, exercises and tips to make you more confident and assured.

Find more career guides, tips and advice

It is easy to be hard on yourself: you know your own weaknesses, focus on them and suppress the positive aspects of yourself. It’s only a matter of time before your confidence suffers. An effect that is also amplified. Because over time, this not only stresses the psyche, but also worsens the image that others have of you. So that it doesn’t get that far in the first place, we have 7 simple ways and 14 summary tips and exercises that will show you how to build confidence …

Table of contents:
Confidence definition: What is it?
Low self-confidence works both internally and externally
Train self-confidence: 7 simple ways to increase self-confidence
In summary: 14 exercises and tips to build confidence

Confidence definition: What is it?

It is not always completely clear what exactly is meant by the concept of confidence. Often, different expressions are used interchangeably with confident, although this is not entirely correct.

Basically, confidence means the ability to act and act in social or business contact in such a way that one’s own needs and rights are satisfied – but without restricting other people at the same time.

For example, it is not about how a person perceives himself, as is the case with self-confidence, but about social competence and the associated need to know, address and also enforce one’s own claims as part of how to build confidence.

Low self-confidence works both internally and externally

Lack of self-confidence is often evident in the behavior of those affected: They withdraw or try to please everyone or avoid sources of error and risks wherever possible. This is often based on fear of failure or the fear of social rejection .

Here it is no longer about the own needs mentioned in the definition, but only about not offending. Motto: bow your head and hope that hardly anyone will notice you . At the same time, you always put yourself in the background, make yourself a minor matter and give up any chance to achieve your own goals or to help shape the contact according to your own ideas.

The other extreme is also possible: The lack of self-confidence should be played over, which leads to a particularly harsh and unapproachable image being built on the outside. Anyone who pretends not to mind is trying to hide what really affects them.

But contrary to what was hoped for, a lack of self-confidence from the outside is anything but inconspicuous . On the contrary: Most people have sensitive antennae for people who are unsure and who do not meet you at eye level. Likewise, most people immediately recognize when they are dealing with a confident personality, which often leads to respect.

In fact, there are a few particularly noticeable behaviors that are associated with low self-confidence:

How to build confidence: Body language to avoid

Tuck your head in to make yourself smaller, avoid eye contact with the person you are talking to or fidget nervously and awkwardly with your hands. All these features of body language and small gestures are usually carried out unconsciously, but are consciously perceived by the counterpart as a sign of a lack of self-confidence . So pay more attention to how you appear – especially to such micro-gestures – in addressing how to build confidence.

As a reference, you can simply observe yourself here: Which movements and signs do you interpret as insecurity in your counterpart? You can then work specifically on these points yourself. It takes a little practice, but the more you practice confident demeanor, the easier and more natural it becomes.

How to build confidence: Approval undermines you

If you always just say yes to everything, that doesn’t necessarily make you more personable. Unfortunately, this is a widespread mistake. What is certain, however, is that if you just say yes and amen, you will be less respected . You can’t always agree with everyone, but it takes courage to disagree. Those who are afraid of their own courage, never say no and never stand up for their opinion are hardly perceived as self-confident. Allegedly from Franz Josef Strauss comes the wry bon mot: “Whoever tries to be everybody’s darling, is soon everybody’s slave.”

Also, remember that if you please everyone else, you will be forgetting about yourself . A willingness to compromise is an important quality, but you should know what is important to you and be able to stand up for these things.

Reluctance to speak

Never having to speak in meetings or sitting alone at a table during the lunch break? That may still pass as a special form of modesty. But it doesn’t look like great self-confidence and gray eminence. This is especially true for discussions. Anyone who always only takes on the role of a neutral observer, stays out of everything and in the end simply agrees with the result, shows no self-confidence, but a lack of backbone.

Signs of a lack of self-confidence

A lack of self-confidence is not only noticeable externally , you can notice it yourself in many situations. There are countless other scenarios, we have selected some of the most common and listed them as examples:

  • You feel uncomfortable and unsafe when you meet new people.
  • You find it difficult to express your opinion.
  • You always blame yourself first.
  • It is difficult to accept praise and encouragement from others.
  • You are constantly afraid to embarrass yourself in front of others, even if there is no reason to
  • You cannot prevail.
  • With classic signs like these, you can also put your self-confidence to a test and find out how it is doing. Consciously review and reflect on how you react in certain situations.

Do you keep finding that you’d rather hide your opinion than risk a confrontation? Or do negotiations and discussions never end the way you imagined? If these clues pile up, there are some indications that you should do something to gain more confidence.

How to build self-confidence: 7 simple ways to increase self-confidence

Now, low self-confidence has the quality of reinforcing itself. Once started, your self-confidence continues to suffer, you withdraw more and more and feel additionally confirmed in your own insecurity. It is therefore necessary to break this downward spiral first . Tips in the sense of “approach your fellow human beings” are useful, but often difficult for those affected to implement. At least in the first step. But there is another way and, above all, easier:

Don’t compare yourself to the wrong people

Comparing yourself to other people is completely normal and necessary for a complete self-image . After all, you want to know where you stand and what other people might do differently. However, it is a mistake to compare yourself to the wrong ones: people who are more successful but have different values; or with unattainable ideals that just make you feel small.

Either you compromise too much, or your self-confidence is lost forever because you develop the feeling that you are not good enough. Instead, focus on yourself instead of just looking outside as a factor in how to build confidence.

Make yourself aware of the causes

Investigating the cause is a big step towards greater self-confidence . Ask critically in which situations you are particularly insecure. What are the triggers and what exactly are you afraid of? The better you understand where your uncertainty is coming from, the better you can react to it.

The next step is to combat the causes . Are you feeling uncomfortable with your body? Make a plan to change that. Are you lacking self-confidence in certain situations? Face the fear and do something about it.

Write down what you are proud of

In order not to forget your own strengths, but to keep reminding yourself about them, a list can serve as an aid in how to build confidence. Write down everything that you are proud of or that you have already achieved in your life. That can be both professional and private. Then, the next time you experience self-doubt , take a look at your list and be aware of your strengths.

Influence your environment

Not everywhere, but you can largely determine who you surround yourself with and to whom you devote how much time. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who not only notice that their counterpart is lacking in self-confidence, but also take advantage of it in a targeted manner. Identify these contacts and reduce handling. With this step you are finally addressing your own needs and developing more self-confidence.

Smile more often – even for no reason

It may seem strange at first, but smiling for no reason will actually help. Because the smile is not only a reaction to joy, it can also trigger it itself . Scientists have found that happiness hormones are released even if you smile for no reason, which increase your mood and relieve anxiety. To overcome fear and insecurity in the next meeting, a simple smile can help.

Be more selfish

Sounds negative at first, but it really does something to strengthen your self-confidence. You will probably find it difficult, especially at the beginning, but it will be good for you. In concrete terms: Make yourself aware of what you want and that you want others to respect these claims. To do this, use various exercises that you can use in suitable situations : Demand the things that are your due, don’t let yourself be put off.

Wear clothing that makes an impression

Another way to become more confident is by clothing yourself. Clothes make the man (and woman) – that’s not just a saying. On the one hand, you will feel better yourself in a high-quality suit or dress and appear accordingly different.

On the other hand, people around you will also get a different picture of you from the start. Nevertheless, of course, the following always applies: You should feel comfortable in your clothes. Otherwise the positive effect will fizzle out again and it just looks like a disguise.

Self-confidence exercises

There are also other promising paths, which, however, involve significantly more overcoming – especially for people who already have little self-confidence. The need to overcome makes these tips particularly effective:

Consciously say no and do not allow yourself to be persuaded into something.
Go straight to new contacts and find the conversation.
Take responsibility for your actions
Train your voice to show self-confidence through your speech.
Stand by your views and participate in discussions.
Make a conscious effort to keep eye contact in conversations.
Draw more attention to yourself.
Keep working at overcoming your fears.
Accept criticism and rejection without feeling personally attacked.
These things are difficult for many people, but those who actually manage to jump over their shadows can learn that it is not that bad and quickly builds new self-confidence.

In summary: 14 tips and exercises to build confidence

Work on your posture

You can often see at first glance how self-confident someone is by looking at their posture. However, it also works the other way around: the better your posture, the better you feel, and that contributes directly to self-confidence. Therefore, make sure to maintain an upright posture:

  • Stand up straight.
  • Move your shoulders back and down, looking straight ahead, not at the floor.
  • Take big, strong steps as you walk.

Get into the habit of checking your posture every now and then, for example in a shop window that you pass.

Get to know yourself

In the literal sense of the word, self-confidence means first of all to be aware of yourself. So you need to know as much as possible about yourself. For that there are different possibilities:

  • Write down your strengths and weaknesses. Make sure that the list of strengths is at least as long as the list of weaknesses.
  • Get feedback from friends on how they perceive you. What do you think are your most outstanding qualities?
  • Make a list of all the things you’ve done in life. Even the big milestones will certainly result in a long list of successes, not to mention the small everyday successes.
  • Always question yourself and find out why you are acting in a certain way. What’s behind it?
  • Get to know yourself with the basic feeling of loving curiosity, not as a judge or critic.

Do something meaningful

Doing something important increases your self-confidence enormously. Therefore, make sure you are doing something meaningful. This can be the upbringing of your children or a job that is useful to other people, volunteering or a helpful blog. No matter how you implement it: Contribute something for the good of other people. The feeling of making a difference, of being important to other people, is incredibly good and strengthens your self-esteem.

Get out of your comfort zone

This exercise is perhaps the most important one when it comes to confidence. It’s about doing things over and over again – preferably daily – that are difficult for you. Push your limits over and over again. One step is enough, you don’t have to dare a bungee jump if you are afraid of heights. But maybe you just climb a few steps higher on the observation tower than you actually feel comfortable.

You probably know best yourself where your own comfort zone is: Everything that you do with the left hand that is not a particular challenge for you is within the comfort zone. Anything that makes you insecure or fearful, and anything that you have to overcome yourself to, is outside. 

The nice thing about the comfort zone: With every step over the border it expands a little more. And that means: Your room for maneuver, your personal freedom and the knowledge of what you can achieve are growing all the time. And that strengthens your self-confidence. Therefore try to find a way to leave your comfort zone at least a little every day. If you like, keep a journal about it and celebrate your successes.

Surround yourself with a strong environment

It is of great importance for your self-confidence which people you surround yourself with. Do they support you and encourage you if something doesn’t work right away? Or do they constantly criticize you and make you small? Are they generally positive or wallow in self-pity, worry, and other negative feelings? If you want to do something for your self-confidence, you should build a strong environment for yourself.

Of course, that doesn’t happen overnight, and it may not be easy either. But it’s worth it: Hardly anything builds you up as much as people who do you good and give you energy. Conversely, of course, this also means: you should banish all those who keep pulling energy out of your life. If that doesn’t work, at least reduce the contact until you can handle it well. Again, because it is so important: Do not underestimate the value of a good environment!

Take care of you

Confidence and self-worth also have to do with how well you take care of yourself. You are responsible for making sure that you are fine, nobody else! Therefore, take responsibility for your life and take care of your needs. This means for example:

  • Know your limits and make sure they are respected.
  • Provide yourself with everything you need: rest and relaxation, good nutrition, sufficient exercise, exciting new experiences, enough sleep and so on.
  • Give yourself comfort when something doesn’t go well, and pat yourself on the shoulder when you succeed. Be nice to you

Silence the inner critic

Do you also belong to those people who constantly criticize themselves in their thoughts? What many do not know: It is up to you what you think. If your inner critic becomes active again, you just send him away. Be energetic: no one has the right to treat you badly, not even yourself!

Compliment yourself

This exercise may be quite unusual at first, but it is very effective for your self-confidence: Say something nice to yourself at least once a day, preferably out loud. It can look like this, for example: “Genevieve, I like you because you just never give up.” You will see how good that is.

For more self-confidence – smile

This exercise goes anytime and anywhere and immediately ensures that you feel a little better, even in difficult situations. Just smile! This improves your charisma and ensures that feelings of happiness are poured out.

Learn to say no

Those who have little self-esteem are easily manipulated and exploited, and that lowers their self-esteem even further. Break this cycle by gently but firmly saying no when you need to be persuaded to do something again.

Finish a project

This exercise is very helpful for having more confidence in yourself: Pick any project that is close to your heart (it can be something small) and implement it. The important thing is: pull it through to the end, even if difficulties may arise in between. End the project and then enjoy what you have achieved.

Set yourself big goals

Allow yourself to think big. What else do you want to achieve? What dreams are waiting to be fulfilled? Allow yourself to have and achieve everything that is possible. It may not work overnight, but that doesn’t matter. Just keep practicing thinking a little bigger.

Make sure that you feel good about yourself

Even if you are not completely satisfied with your appearance: There is a lot you can do to feel more comfortable in your skin:

  • Take good care of you.
  • Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in. If you don’t get enough of it: make sure that changes.
  • If you like: wear jewelry and / or make-up even if you have nothing special in mind.
  • Think about a new hairstyle. That alone can make a big difference in confidence.
  • Do sports! This improves your body image, your fitness, your posture and your figure, and all of these are very helpful for good self-confidence.

Be patient with yourself

The way to more self-confidence cannot be made overnight. You will progress step by step, but do not expect miracles. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your successes, and stick with it. The trip is worth it!