A stranger walked into a bar. While entering, he slammed the doors. Not too much, just enough to signal his presence. He then greeted and made sure that everybody had the chance to hear it clearly, in most corners of the room. He went straight to the bartender. Untroubled, he took some time to greet the guy before asking for his drink. Naturally, the bartender is magically obliging while the others around quickly and silently tag the stranger as a confident person in their minds. Is there a simple way to build self-confidence?
Making your entrance in a foreign bar, party, or social gathering is an exciting test for one’s self-confidence. Anyone can experiment with it, especially in an unfamiliar setting. Try it in a foreign place where you don’t know anyone, but everybody knows each other. The more you are enjoying it, the higher the chances are that you have a high level of “true” self-confidence.
If you wanted to test your confidence level scientifically, then there are well-calibrated quizzes online. You could even get some certificate to impress others. “This is to certify that X has a strong level of self-confidence.” Mind-bending indeed (sarcasm). But there is nothing more exciting than a practical, real-life test such as this one. Feel free to try it and to enjoy yourself while staying safe, of course.
There are many books about self-confidence. Most of the tips and methods that they recommend make sense. But somehow, we feel that things became a little bit overly complicated and even impractical in this domain. There is one thing and one thing only that, if applied consistently, leads to self-confidence. So, what is this mysterious simple way to build self-confidence?
It is the lack of doubt that defines confidence. It is so evident that many don’t know what to do with this tiny yet powerful piece of knowledge. However, it is not the simple lack of doubt that is the secret to self-confidence. There are several ways to achieving a lack of doubt. Ignorance is one of them. So is stubbornness, and so is aggressiveness. However, self-confidence is about the lack of doubt that comes from knowing what to do and doing it. You can achieve this type of confidence by following a clear set of rules that make sense to you and others.
The stranger in our story knows that the one entering a room is the one who greets. And so he greets, confidently, because he does the right thing. He also knows that he entered the bar to have a drink. Therefore, the next step after he entered and greeted everybody is to go for it. He confidently approaches the bartender because there is no secret that bartenders are the masters of the bar’s glasses. Another simple social practice when meeting someone is to greet them and maybe ask how they are doing. He followed well known social rules that make sense to everybody. And this made the difference between him and someone who would have sneaked inside and tried to be invisible because he doesn’t know how to deal with being visible.
Our bias to avoid confrontation is a primary source of doubt that undermines confidence. A self-confident person knows that things can go south in any situation. “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The “punch in the mouth” is not necessarily a fist punch; it can be a word, an attitude, or an action. A bad day, poor emotion management, poor manners, and other constraints may make a peer act badly. Our stranger did not enter the bar to educate everyone inside. He knows that he is there for a drink and to enjoy himself. If things go south, he knows what to do. He needs to get the hell out of there and find something better. That’s all.
How do we get those rules that allow us to know what to do and act with self-confidence? Some come from education or life experiences. Some come from social norms described in “etiquette” books. And there is a fair amount of rules that depend on what and who is important to us. Our minds unconsciously pick up patterns from every stimulus that reaches to them. Self-awareness is essential in building self-confidence, and they are both pillars of self-reliance. Knowing why we do the things that we do allows us to change our actions to match our lives’ expectations. And when we consciously change the way we act, we build rules. We develop our own rules of life that are a simple way to build self-confidence.