Home » 7 Habits To Make You More Confident Around New People
Tips to help you be more engaging and confident in social situations usually focus on what to do in social situations. They recommend you do things like:
✔️ask good questions
✔️maintain eye contact, and
✔️don’t overshare or monopolize the conversation.
This is great advice about what to do during the event, but I want to help you become more confident so you don’t need to rely on those social crutches forever.
Before we get to the habits, I want to point out a couple of mindset shifts you may need to make.
Call it pre-work.
A. Acknowledge the true cost of your social insecurities.
Social anxiety (from mild to severe cases) are triggered by negative emotions. The fear of not being accepted is a common fear. It’s a hangup many of us have had to work through. I did, and so did many other people who today, you wouldn’t guess once had social insecurities.
Maybe your fear is more subconscious. Say, you had an embarrassing experience in high school or early childhood. It’s something you think you should be over (now that you’re an adult) but are you really though?
Then there’s social insecurity that’s merely a lack of experience in social situations or you just feel more confident when you have a wingman.
Whatever the reasons for your insecurities, you want to objectively look at what it’s costing you.
DO THIS: Think of your life 5 and 10 years from now. If you do nothing about your social insecurities, will you be okay with how your life looks then? If the prospect of fewer career, relationship, and life opportunities concern you, let it motivate you to do the work.
Remind yourself: the fear is worse than the fix.
This is another major mindset work to do. We tend to think that habits are just who we are, that we can’t do anything about them, etc. But the truth is, habits are simply things you repeatedly do.
I don’t like to think of habits as good vs. bad so let’s use the term helpful vs. unhelpful. Every day your helpful and unhelpful habits are shaping your character. Some are conscious habits like having a morning routine while other habits like negative thinking are unconscious.
It’s said that 40% percent of our actions are not conscious decisions but habits.
Your job is to replace your most unhelpful habits with more helpful ones. Certain habits like negative self-talk reinforce a negative self-image. That’s so not helpful. But positive habits like reading and volunteering can help to turn that negative self-talk around. Adapting a lifestyle with positive habits you proactively practice, is key to fostering a more confident you.
This leads me to the 7 habits we’ll be looking at today. They’re things you’ll do regularly, with the aim of transforming how you see yourself and how you view embarrassing experiences, old and new. With a little bit of practice, your old hangups will be dropping left and right, and you’ll become more confident around new people.
1. Believe in yourself.
Contrary to popular belief, confidence isn’t about being cool or being able to captivate a crowd. It is simply about being OK with what you do and who you are, no matter what that means.
Examine limiting beliefs you may have picked up from society and others. Use resources like therapy, daily affirmations, and books like Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice to help you see yourself positively.
We all have value and worth, but negative self-talk doesn’t allow you to believe that. Right now, you could be so preoccupied with negative self-talk, you can’t see your innate gifts. Your gift of gab, your ability to make the best chocolate cake ever, to love unconditionally, the fact you’re empathetic, your creativity, or the hundreds of other things you are, which can be missed when all you focus on are your thighs, how you make a living and anything else you consider flaws.
Something else which will help you, is to minimize negative influences and people. Be discerning about who you let into your life, even on social media. According to research, using social media obsessively causes more than just anxiety and self-comparisons, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), problems with mental functioning, and even might cause you to develop a negative self-perception.
Meditation has a noise-canceling effect on our inner critic. In fact, it arguably works so well, meditation can often turn your inner critic into an ally over time. Meditating for as little as 2 to 5 minutes a day or every time you feel overwhelmed, can yield significant changes in your attitude.
Sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes, and breathe naturally. Clear your mind and if you begin to wander off in your thoughts, especially undesirable ones, simply refocus on your breath.
As with all habits, it’s a consistent practice that’s going to transform you. A meditation practice will help you stay out of your head and be more present in social situations.
3. Think well of others.
We talk about thoughts and beliefs all the time. Well, our thoughts are unconsciously affecting our behavior. Think poorly of others and you’ll expect everyone to act poorly. Think well of others and you’ll expect others to act well. 100% of people won’t act the way we expect, but our expectations hugely influence our perceptions.
Thinking well of others will make you a more cordial person, who will be more open in social situations. And because on some level we attract how and what we think, if you’re thinking well of others, you’re going to attract healthier friendlier people, because you’ll emanate a healthier, friendlier vibe.
There is also another good (and self-serving!) reason to do this. At the end of the day, if you can find the good in others, you can find the good in yourself. It’s a false belief that checking anyone who slights you makes you feel better about yourself. Even with that temporary feeling of “winning,” you’re still inviting more chaotic thoughts into your life and becoming someone who attracts drama.
Consider thinking well of others as “how to not have a chip on your shoulder” practice. You do it by making the opposite choice. Instead of a full-on takedown of your enemy, learn to choose the right words to defend yourself but doesn’t diminish someone’s humanity.
4. Get out of the house.
Being involved in the world, whether it’s through sports, networking, volunteering, or just walking about in nature. Active involvement gives you something to do, stories to tell, and surprisingly, it will increase your confidence too.
Shy and socially awkward people tend to hide away from the world, but this is self-sabotaging behavior. It does more damage than you can imagine. It reinforces the myth that because you’re not an extrovert, your voice is less valid.
Start the habit of getting out of the house every day to do some living. It’s by living that we have profound experiences that enhance the quality of our lives, which makes us more confident.
Now imagine yourself in social situations, having explored more of the world – even if it’s just to get toilet paper (which is back in stores!). With that, imagine you’ve also been practicing habits #2 and #3 as well. This version of you now has more experiences to talk about, has less of a chip on your shoulder, and is more present. I’ve seen this transformation firsthand, so I wanted to encourage you to put in the work to form these habits. This version of you will eventually have your listeners hanging on to your every word.
Along with exploring the outdoors and gaining more experiences, we should also try to expand our intellect. A great way to do this is through reading.
According to research, reading makes people more interesting and empathetic. There are many people, myself included, who find intelligent people more interesting. So, keep that in mind the next time you’re in a social situation and find yourself wondering if you’re going to be accepted.
The same research also shows that reading can make you more confident. As Susan Cain writes in Psychology Today, “Books are one of the few media to portray introverts as intellectually and emotionally aflame, as opposed to aloof, flawed, or dull.
6. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Everyone makes gaffes. Shy people usually hate when the attention is on them, and tend to get a little stiff in those moments. So, when there is a blunder of some sort, they’ll draw attention to their embarrassment, which makes others uncomfortable.
Learn not to take ‘embarrassing’ moments too seriously, and don’t create them by pretending to be someone you’re not.
Here are typical scenarios: If you botch the pronunciation of Balmain, don’t carry on as if no one noticed. Admit your mistake; It will show your listeners that you actually know better and also make you more likable. Simply laugh it off and ask, “How do you pronounce Balmain?” Or ask, “Did I pronounce that right?”
If you say right when you meant left, just lighten the mood by saying, “I meant my other right.”
When you do something embarrassing (or it plays in your head as being embarrassing), take a curious humorous, approach, instead of trying to be the person with all the answers. Be open and curious.
Gaffes and social mistakes, if you don’t take them too seriously, can make you more likable and engaging. So, instead of making others uncomfortable, allow them to laugh with you.
7. Dress your best.
Like it or not, your clothes and the way you present yourself, communicate volumes about you as a person. Dressing well makes most of us feel more confident, and it helps others identify with you.
Studies show that people like people who dress like them. Other studies show the clothes you wear affect how you perform. So if you think about it: dressing well is a no-brainer! Once you look the part, there will be one less thing on your mind to feel self-conscious about.
Dressing your best is a great way to bring together all the other habits we’ve talked about to become your most confident.
How can you tell whether these habits are working and if you’re becoming more engaging? It’s simple.
You can tell your efforts are working when you don’t feel the need to try so hard. Your smile will feel more natural. You’ll ask more interesting questions and won’t feel the need to interrupt others to make your point.
Christine is a lifestyle coach living in Los Angeles. Using systems, routines, and some psychological trickery, she can help almost anyone hack their mind and life for greater productivity. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if she's available for one-on-one work.