Quick. What do you find beautiful? If you are like the hundreds of people that I have talked to over the years, you did not say tall, blond, and thin. You probably said something about confidence. Here is what I find fascinating. When people talk about what draws them to others, they always talk about something magnetic in the person, one’s charisma and presence, in short, confidence. And, yet, when I ask a person whether or not she or he is beautiful or handsome and what standard is being used to define beautiful or handsome, it’s never confidence. It’s that media-driven standard we hear so much about: being tall enough, thin enough, muscular enough, tan enough, young enough. We are willing to judge others on their presence, but for ourselves, nothing but perfection- the media’s idea of perfection- will do. And, most times, the media’s idea of perfection is an unreachable, highly volatile target. Far more reachable? Developing and projecting your own confidence. So give up trying to attain the Hollywood crucible and try these five methods for developing and conveying your confidence instead.
1. Engage in confidence-building acts. We all have our own unique purpose and, yet, all the energy we put into hating, tweaking, complaining, and trying to erase doesn’t get us any closer to fulfilling that purpose. It just takes away time we can be investing in our passion. It’s what you have in your soul that has the makings of an everyday miracle. Having positive self-esteem is in part about doing things that are worthy of esteem—engaging in acts that build esteem because they are admirable. And when you are doing that, it is easy to become confident. Consider what gifts you have to offer and what ways you should be offering those gifts and begin now.
2. Offer a compliment. It shows you are confident enough to admire someone else.
3. Make eye contact. One of the best ways to project confidence is through your eyes. When you refuse to make eye contact with someone else, you might be sending one of two messages: that you wish to be invisible or that you don’t think the other person is worthy of being seen. Making eye contact is a great place to “fake it until you make it” in terms of confidence. Begin maintaining eye contact in all of your interactions and, soon, you’ll see that people will interpret you as being confident (which makes you more confident!). A great test for yourself while building this skill? Walk away from each interaction and see if you can name the person’s eye color.
4. Greet people. As you walk by others on the street or in the hallway at work, say hello.
5. Take a compliment. It is so instinctive, especially in women who have been taught to be good girls, to turn down a compliment. I can’t possibly have done as good a job as you are saying. This can’t possibly look good on me. Those are the things the racket in our head says to us. Ignore the racket. When someone offers you a compliment, even in you can’t believe it is possibly true, smile and say thank you. For that person, it is true or she wouldn’t say it and when you demure her compliment, you are belittling what she thinks. With enough practice, you might just be willing to believe in your own worth!
This post originally appeared in the Charlotte Observer as a guest column.