People who act confident but are actually filled with self-doubt often display these 11 subtle behaviors

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Confidence is a great thing to have.

It improves your mental health. It makes you more resilient. It can make you more successful. It can even make you more attractive.

But confidence is strange in the sense that in some ways, you can fake it till you make it. Acting confident can convince other people that you really do believe in yourself, and can get you many of the benefits of confidence even if you don’t really have it.

In fact, acting confident can even make you more confident over time.

With all that in mind, it’s probably not surprising that many people fake a confidence they don’t really have. And this act can be very convincing.

However, there are some subtle behaviors that can give away the reality of how confident a person really is. Keep an eye out for these signs that show someone isn’t nearly as confident as they are pretending to be.

1) They overcompensate

One of the classic signs of someone who isn’t as confident as they appear to be is that they overcompensate.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I mean that they try too hard.

Because they are concerned with their image, they will try to always appear confident and in control, and this can make them come off as aggressive or self-absorbed.

That’s especially true if they often talk about themselves and their achievements.

True confidence is often quiet. Someone who genuinely believes in themselves doesn’t need to convince others of how great they are.

And if someone does, it’s a good sign that they are overcompensating to cover up for a lack of genuine self-belief.

2) They take failure hard

Failure is inevitable in life. And the more you try, the more you expose yourself to the possibility of failure.

How a person deals with failure can tell you a lot about them.

Confident people understand that failure is part of life. Additionally, because they have confidence in themselves and their abilities, they don’t let setbacks convince them that they are unworthy or incompetent.

But people who are putting on a false show of confidence often do.

Because they don’t have their own source of internal validation, these people get their sense of worth from their achievements. So when something goes wrong, it makes them feel bad about themselves.

3) They are perfectionists

For some people, things are never good enough.

That’s especially true of people who are hiding their insecurities behind a mask of confidence.

Because they judge themselves by their achievements, they feel a need to have everything work out perfectly. When it doesn’t, they fear that their lack of self-belief will be exposed to the people around them.

“Sometimes, when individuals experience insecurity, they seek validation and self-worth in their achievements, possibly leading to perfectionism,” according to the University of Maryland’s counseling services.

“Perfectionists often experience frustration, shame, disappointment, and self-blame when those expectations are not met.”

4) They seek validation

Sometimes, a confident act is simply an attempt for a person with low self-esteem to get their validation from other people.

When a person is filled with self-doubt, they are unable to convince themselves of their own worth. Because they don’t trust their own opinions, they will seek out the opinions of others to give them praise and validation.

There are lots of different ways this can show itself.

They may constantly draw attention to their achievements at work, hoping for approval from their boss and their coworkers.

Or, in their personal life, they may try to get the people around them to agree with their decisions and tell them that they made the right choices.

Sometimes, this need for validation can come across as bragging, as the person constantly draws attention to everything they’ve done well. But actually, it’s not arrogance, but the opposite.

5) They over-prepare

This is a subtle sign of a lack of confidence that is easy to miss. At the same time, it can give you insight into the mentality of someone who is trying to hide their self-doubts.

This is usually most noticeable in the workplace, and it comes from a person’s lack of confidence in their own abilities.

Often, they will over prepare for a meeting or to work on a project because they are scared of getting something wrong, saying the wrong thing, or looking foolish.

6) They fixate on mistakes

It’s very hard for a person who lacks self-confidence to let go of any mistakes they make.

“Because they lack confidence in their abilities, people with low self-esteem doubt their ability to achieve success,” writes psychologist Kendra Cherry. “This fear of failure can be seen in behaviors such as acting out when things go wrong or looking for ways to hide feelings of inadequacy.”

One of the ways people who doubt themselves act out is to obsessively focus on their mistakes. Unable to let it go, they will dwell on all the things they got wrong, which in turn only adds to their lack of confidence.

7) They struggle to accept compliments

When someone is acting confident, it seems like they are well aware of their good qualities. But when somebody gives them a compliment, you may notice that they struggle to accept it.

For example, they will downplay whatever good feature a person says they have. Or they will attribute their success to other people, such as their team at work.

Although it’s subtle, this can be a sign of someone who is fundamentally doubting their own worth and abilities. Because they can’t see the good qualities in themselves, they don’t believe it when other people point them out.

Often, it makes them uncomfortable, so they will try to deflect or brush off the compliment to avoid the uncomfortable feeling it produces.

8) They avoid taking risks

Some people get very good at hiding their self-doubts behind a show of confidence. But if they are afraid to take risks, it may be a sign that their confidence isn’t real.

As I mentioned above, people who doubt themselves are often afraid of failure. And so to keep themselves from failing, they will often play it safe and avoid taking any risks.

This isn’t always easy to spot. But if you know someone who prefers to stay in their comfort zone and rarely pushes themselves to achieve more, it might be because they don’t believe in themselves as much as they seem to.

9) They imitate others

Another sign of someone who is not confident in their own abilities is that they imitate others.

It might be a boss. It might be a friend. It might be a family member. But if they know someone with qualities they wish they had themselves, a person lacking confidence may subconsciously start to imitate them.

Although it’s subtle, it’s a good sign that deep down, this is a person who doesn’t think they are as worthy of success and admiration as others.

10) They talk too much

This one can be paradoxical. Usually, when we think of people who doubt themselves, we imagine being shy and quiet. But actually, lots of people will hide their self-doubts behind constant chatter.

Not too long ago, I met a guy like this. He talked for hours, almost exclusively about himself. And almost every story he told was about how he was smarter than somebody else.

This is a guy who, within a couple of hours of meeting me, was showing me his metal credit card to try and impress me.

It didn’t work.

Because the more he talked, the more I got the sense that he didn’t really believe in his stories of how great he was.

It soon became clear to me that the opposite was actually true. Everything he was saying was designed to impress me, and people who are generally comfortable with themselves would never waste their time doing that.

11) They avoid confrontation

No one likes confrontation. But sometimes, it’s necessary. Whether it’s in the workplace or in our personal relationships, sometimes, you just need to have it out with someone.

However, it takes real confidence, not the fake kind, to be able to stand your own ground and point out when someone is mistaken or isn’t behaving right.

And it’s really hard to do when you doubt yourself.

So even if a person appears confident, if they try to avoid confrontation wherever possible, even when it’s necessary, it might be because of their hidden doubts about themselves.

Faking confidence

There are lots of advantages in life that come from being confident. So it’s no surprise that a lot of people might try to fake it.

But even if they’re good at hiding their self-doubts, their behaviors may give them away. Keep an eye out for these signs that will show you someone who is acting more confident than they really feel.

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