True confidence can’t be faked, but it can be learned.
I always thought I knew what confidence was: talking loud, being the most expressive person in the room, and the life of the party.
Especially for men, our culture glamorizes their extroversion and ‘alpha-ness’ and equates that with how manly they are. It doesn’t leave much room for a man who is either introverted or low-key to feel like he’s “okay.” Which may be why so many men resort to practicing body language, turning to the pick-up artist community, or just feeling like they don’t “mesh” with men who are more outgoing.
So how is it possible for a man to know what true confidence looks like, if there are all these competing ideas about it? First, it helps to define what confidence is: being secure with yourself and trusting your abilities. None of that includes putting on a show for other people.
When I first met my now-fiancé, we were opposites in a lot of ways. I was big and expressive, and he was incredibly fun yet more low-key. But it got me thinking: could there be other ways to show confidence? And how could one go about getting it?
After being together for almost 10 years and a lot of careful observation on my part, I know that my fiancé knows the definition of confidence better than I ever could. This is what I learned from him:
1. Do what works with your natural style
Any social situation I’ve seen my fiancé go into, he’s always relaxed, open, and at ease. There’s no hidden agenda, no “strategy” for who to talk to and what he’s going to say. He goes in to have fun.
Compare that to what we all think “confidence” looks like. We imagine someone who’s “working the room” talking to everyone, and being in the limelight. My fiancé openly admits that while he loves talking to people, he’s not looking to be the center of attention. So much extra stress, pressure, and anxiety is taken off of us when we know we don’t have to fit ourselves into a box. We can know what our strengths are, and stick to that.
Especially if you’ve noticed yourself trying to “overcome” being introverted, or trying to psych yourself up to socialize because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do, stop! Think about what you enjoy the most from your interactions, and when you feel most like yourself. You can always work on your social skills, but you don’t have to change who you are.
2. Take the lead
No matter what we’re doing, I can bet on my fiancé to offer to help someone who needs it. Whether it’s helping them clean up after they’ve had us for dinner or offering a ride home, picking up the tab for dinner or drinks, or making sure everyone we’re with is taken care of.
He’s never aggressive or loud about this, either. He does these things because in some cases, they’re the right thing to do. And in others, because he knows the value of being someone who takes charge and helps other people feel comfortable and at ease.
For you this could mean that next time you go out for lunch or drinks, you make the decision before you go to pick up the tab. Or if friends have you over, offer to help make their lives easier in some way. The best mindset to have is to see yourself as a solution: “How can I make this experience the best it can be?”
3. Have a collaborative mindset
One would be hard-pressed to find a situation where my fiancé would be jealous or trying to one-up someone else. He’s openly happy for other people’s success, and people know that he truly means it. This is a part of what makes his confidence so magnetic: none of it is faked.
While one could practice every body language technique in the book, it wouldn’t mean anything if it isn’t backed up by character. If you find yourself getting jealous of other’s accomplishments or feeling inferior, stop for a moment: What benefits do you get from being resentful of someone else’s success? What do you admire about them instead? Then tell them. Better yet, figure out how you can emulate what you like about them.
You can imagine for me how refreshing it is to be with a man who is so secure and comfortable with his own skin, someone both men and women enjoy being around. The best part for you? Instead of trying to act “alpha” you can apply these simple lessons on confidence today and reap the rewards of being authentic to who you are.
Photo: Flickr/Steve wilson