Having high self-confidence is one of the most important traits for a happy and successful life.
When it comes to gaining confidence, we have all heard the advice “Fake it till you make it” .
The statement does have a ring of truth to it and I will be the first to admit that I have tried to fake confidence in the past whether it was a college project presentation, first job interview and many such challenging situations.
What I have noticed is that faking confidence works only in short term during times when you are either feeling low or having unjustified self-doubt.
Say for example, you are preparing for an important presentation and you are not a public speaker as your job does not normally require that skill. Content wise you know in your bones what you are doing, what you are going to offer to your audience. You have enough substance within you but simply lack the confidence to express in front of people. In this case yes, you can fake your confidence as you already are the subject matter expert and it may even work!
However, if you do believe that public speaking is a much-needed critical skill that can accelerate your career, then this calls for you to develop true confidence. Faking will not help you to face your problem head on and without improving your skills, you will start to feel even more insecure.
Instead of faking, you should rather invest time to develop that skill. Read about it, learn the intricacies, attend coaching classes, volunteer to speak at local network meeting, practice at every given opportunity and aim to engage with your audience each time you speak in public! Once you dive deep and give your 100%, you will eventually master the skill.
If you are seeking long-term success, then faking confidence will not take you far. If you want to achieve something, it has come from your authentic self. You cannot fake success, you need to work, give it your all and make it happen!
With strong expertise comes true confidence!
Standard norm “Fake it till you make it” remains short sighted advice for most of us.
Because let’s face it. Faking requires you to suppress genuine emotions and that is hard as it requires more conscious effort to conceal your anxiety.
Faking takes away a part of who you are. So how can you enjoy success if you lose your authenticity in the process?
As you progress through your life and career, it becomes all the more important to surpass faking part to actually making it happen!
Difference between Fake Confidence and Real Confidence
Real Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s actual ability. Fake confidence is pretending to be good at something when in actual sense, you are not prepared enough.
Truly confident people are givers. They do not hesitate to share their time, knowledge, resources with others. They are able to see best in others, overlook pettiness. Unlike those who fake confidence will be protective of what they know, and they tend to get defensive about anyone who asks questions.
Truly confident people don’t aim to be perfect instead they try new things, they accept responsibility for failures and be willing to learn from their mistakes. While others who are pretending to be confident, hide their mistakes and try to maintain their image of perfection. Unfortunately, in their quest to maintain their false image, they lose out on learning opportunities and will not be able to make any genuine connections.
Dharmesh Shah, founder of HubSpot lists these traits of truly confident people which is worth noting here:
1. They take a stand not because they think they are always right – but because they are not afraid to be wrong.
2. They listen ten times more than they speak.
3. They duck the spotlight, so it shines on others.
4. They freely ask for help.
5. They think, “Why not me?”
6. They don’t put down other people.
7. They aren’t afraid to look silly…
And they own their mistakes.
8. They only seek approval from the people who really matter
Once you learn, emulate and internalize these qualities, you can take off the mask and glow with true inner confidence!
In addition to the list of qualities mentioned above, there are a few actions that you can take to develop sure fire confidence.
Develop your Skills and Competence
There is no shortcut to success. Even though faking works on short term, you cannot succeed with just high self -esteem and charisma alone.
You need to have enough substance within you that your style should not matter anymore.
If you are planning to master any skill, then you need to dive deep and learn as much as you can. Research, find mentors, network, ask lot of questions. Get to know experts in your field, network and learn from them. Know your competitors if any. If you want to be truly confident at something, you cannot have just a passing knowledge. You have to step out of the amateur bubble. You need to practice hard and be so well versed that you could even teach about that subject! As the saying goes “when one teaches, two learn”! Once you reach that level of mastery there would be no need to pretend anymore!
Confidence cannot compensate for lack of competence. Develop your competence, confidence will follow!
If you are a self-conscious person, then Faking Confidence can backfire and here is how.
Say you are not feeling confident at doing something that you are supposed to do, the advice that reigns on internet is follow the norm – “Fake it till you make It” Your friends and your network advice you the same. And so, you try to project a confident image, you put on a mask and try your best to hide your insecurities.
Now have you noticed how you feel when you are trying to be not yourself? It does not fit your personality to pretend and will make you all the more self- conscious. Faking it makes you focus even more on just yourself and ironically by doing so, you become more self-conscious and more nervous! And less confident!
Faking it works great if you are able to curb your self-thoughts but sadly will not work for the most of us who actually need it the most.
So instead of faking try this.
Focus away from self and pay attention to your audience. Rather than putting all your focus on yourself, try to direct your attention towards the person you are speaking with. What are they passionate about? What are their current interests? Is there any way you can help them?
Thinking more about others will take the pressure off from your head. By focusing outward, you will give others importance over you. You will ask relevant questions. By putting the limelight on them, you can feel at ease as you do not have to pretend anymore.
Focusing outward forces your brain to think more about the other person leading to interesting questions resulting in great conversation. And without faking it, you will be less self -conscious and also improving your social-abilities!
Look the Part!
Let’s be clear that in an ideal scenario, what you wear should not define your value as a person and rather what you do should define your worth. This holds true for legends like Polo necked king of Apple who can make history through innovation or when you own the world’s largest social media network when you can pull off being seen in a grey T-Shirt every day.
However, for the most of us, mere mortals whether fair or not, people judge by how we look and appearance largely influences people’s perceptions. So, it is important to look your best in order to feel your best!
Imagine yourself as an actor practicing for a show. Now think about when your performance will be at the best – your performance will be normal during the regular practice, better during the dress rehearsal and you will be at your best at the final stage performance!
Similarly, as a leader, as an executive, as a teacher whatever you are, if you want to exude confidence, look the part! Dressing sharply will give you the positive boost needed to make an impression!
This is of course assuming that you have already mastered the skills because “Dress the Part” won’t be effective if you do not have the subject expertise.
Your body posture has a powerful influence not only in how others perceive you but also how you feel inwardly. While a hunched body, slump and rounded shoulders will show you are insecure and feeling low. If you want to feel self-assured and upbeat in any situation, try standing straight, shoulders back and hold your head high. Make proper eye contact and do not forget to smile! It will instantly uplift you and others around you.
To feel as confident as a super-hero, try a “Superman” or “Wonder-Woman” posture – standing with your feet apart, hands on your hips and shoulders wide! If you do not have time to practice the superhero posture, make sure you do not compress your posture.
Standing taller and straighter not only gives the “look” of confidence, it helps change your body physiology which goes to improve mood. You will feel positive and energized which will boost your confidence levels!
Self-Care is the best care. Once you take care of yourself, address the underlying concerns and adequately hone your skills and personality, then you are bound to feel good about yourself. If you are feeling insecure, think about what is causing that low self-esteem within you. Are there any negative self-beliefs that are holding you back from tapping into your best self? Try to heal those past issues through self-therapy if possible.
Doing these will make you feel better about yourself. This leads to self-assurance in your own abilities and that is where the true confidence emerges from!
Lastly stay away from insecure and negative people. Just like any other emotion, confidence is contagious. So, if you are around other confident people who are secure in their own skin, then they will boost your inner strength as well. “Confidence breeds confidence” and soon you will be brimming with genuine confidence and will shine from within!
When you try something new, you might either fall or fly. But the beauty of true confidence is that now you know you will be Ok either way. When you fall, you fall with grace, pick yourself up and then fly high with humility!
This article was originally published by the author in Powerhouse Global Magazine.