How can you tell a confident person apart from the crowd?
You’d think it would be easy: they walk tall, talk clearly and believe in themselves.
But many of the signs of a truly confident person are more subtle and harder to pick up on.
Here are 27 subtle rules confident people follow to elevate their life.
27 signs of a confident person (that most people miss)
1) Confident people listen more than they talk
The stereotypical image of a confident man or woman is somebody who walks tall and carries a big stick.
This person has a booming loud voice and stares down and intimidates those who go against them.
But the truth is that a truly confident person doesn’t act in such a pretentious way.
That’s because they understand that you learn far more by listening than by talking. And they prefer to have that edge in business, life and love.
They really digest what somebody is saying, because it gives them a lot to work with.
So, while a confident person talks with authority, they choose their words carefully and often prefer to listen.
2) Confident people don’t rely on the validation of others
One of the most important signs of a confident person (that most people miss) is the trait of a lone wolf.
Confident people aren’t always the prototypical alpha male or alpha female. Instead, they’re more often a sigma.
They do things their own way and don’t rely on the validation or appreciation of others.
Sure, a round of applause is nice: but it won’t make or break them.
The truly confident person marches to the beat of their own drum and thinks big when others are thinking small.
They do what they believe is necessary and see hard projects through if they decide on it, regardless of whether others believe in them and back them up.
3) Confident people don’t try to improve themselves
There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the self-development community about being confident and achieving your dreams.
Coaches will tell clients to be more “positive,” work on their “vibrations” or use visualization to create a bright future.
Honestly, it’s mostly bullshit.
The truth is that successful and confident people only have one main thing in common:
A burning drive to achieve their purpose. They skip a lot of the nonsense and white noise in life by just cutting straight to their goals.
“OK,” you might say, “how should I know what the hell my purpose is?”
Well, that’s the thing…
As Ideapod founder Justin Brown found out in a life-changing moment with the Brazilian shaman Rudá Iandê, once we find our purpose everything else begins to fall into place.
The hardships become fuel for the journey, the alienation we can so often feel becomes a chance to fulfill our special mission.
Our creativity gets unleashed as we truly embrace the power and potential we have to be our unique self.
Finding your purpose is not about trying to improve yourself.
In fact, trying to become a “better version of yourself” and similar tactics can actually be highly counterproductive and harmful.
As Justin Brown explains in this masterclass on the hidden trap of trying to improve yourself, there is a completely different way to change your life by finding your purpose.
4) Confident people avoid conflict when possible
No confident person is afraid of a fight. But they also don’t seek out conflict or enjoy it.
When necessary they’ll argue or shut down a bully. But it’s not their main interest.
Conflict bores them in most cases, because unless conflict is leading to a breakthrough and progress it’s more or less a waste of time.
Confident people want solutions, answers and improvements.
They aren’t interested in arguing about what’s going wrong or who did what wrong.
They want to know what could go right and how to get it going right as soon as possible.
The endless bickering and negativity doesn’t produce solutions, so they generally leave it behind.
5) Confident people care about others
Confident people tend to be very able to focus and get down to work.
But they’re not generally selfish or uncaring.
Truly confident people operate from a mindset of abundance. They give their time and energy to others when those others show a real interest and determination to also succeed.
They give respect where they get respect and care about those less fortunate.
The truly confident person is interested in a tide that raises all boats, not just jetting off solo into the sunset.
6) Confident people have fallback plans
Confident people believe in themselves and what they do. But they don’t see themselves as gods or superhuman.
They know they have faults, and they also know that their plans in life, love and business can easily fall through.
Sometimes it’s no fault of their own, either!
You may be bidding on a house you’ve always dreamed of only to have the real estate market go haywire right as you’re about to close.
Life often spins out of our control.
Confident people are like all the rest of us, just more prepared.
They have fallback plans, and that makes them survive life’s bumps and bruises a little more confidently than some of the rest of us.
7) Confident people don’t overestimate themselves
As I’ve emphasized here, part of being truly confident is having a realistic view of yourself.
Confident people don’t overestimate themselves.
When they see someone bragging about their wealth or intelligence they stay far away, because they immediately recognize classic signs of posturing and insecurity.
They want real results and real success, not window dressing.
Part of this is realistic self-assessment. And that means looking in the mirror and being brutally honest about everything from being ugly to not being that smart.
As former Navy SEAL and ultramarathon runner David Goggins relates in his excellent book Can’t Hurt Me, part of his journey to immense success was being honest about his faults including a lack of natural intelligence and a predisposition to laziness and the victim mentality.
There’s nobody more confident than Goggins! There’s also nobody more honest about himself and his weaknesses.
8) Confident people make strong eye contact
In terms of body language, confident people tend to have good posture and make strong eye contact.
They shake hands with a firm grip (but not over-the-top golf club stockbroker douchebag stuff) and they look you in the eye.
Confidence can be seen in body language and eye contact, but it’s a bit more of an overall impression.
When you’re around a truly confident person you will feel calm and reassured, not jumpy and overwhelmed.
One of the most surprising signs of a confident person (that most people miss) is that they’re actually pretty chill.
They make strong eye contact and walk tall, but they don’t stride around like a WWE wrestler and fist bump everyone by any means.
9) Confident people are in touch with their creative side
Not all of us are Vincent van Gogh or François Truffaut. But we often have a creative side of us that doesn’t get explored.
Confident people love to embrace and explore their creative side.
If they get the chance to try to learn a musical instrument or pick up a new skill like video editing, drawing or graphic design, they jump on it.
They relish the chance to become more creative and see what they can do in creative fields, even if it doesn’t directly relate to their main profession.
10) Confident people avoid the victim mentality
The victim mentality is a habit of focusing on the ways that life and other people have treated us unfairly, misunderstood us and left us without the tools we need to succeed.
The problem with the victim mentality is that it can be somewhat true.
But we’re not living in a world where something being kind of true means that it’s also effective, because that’s not how it works.
Life and other people may have kicked you around beyond recognition. And you shouldn’t put up with that or forget it.
But you also need to do everything you can to supersede the focus on it and become a winner.
And that means owning the injustices that have been done to you and the ways you’re misunderstood and succeeding anyway.
Use the frustration for fuel. Nobody else is going to do it for you, and all the sympathy in the world will never build your life up to what you want it to be.
11) Confident people don’t like to complain
When confident people see a problem they point it out directly and address it.
But they hate complaining.
Instead, when there’s a frustration that they don’t know how to resolve, confident people use it to fuel their determination.
They focus on something else they can resolve for the time being and let it percolate.
Then when they know what to do they move with decisive force to fix it.
If they can’t fix it they accept whatever’s not working out and move on. But they don’t whine and complain, because they know it serves no purpose.
12) Confident people love to learn new skills
Confident people are curious and determined. They tend to be lifelong learners who enjoy picking up new skills and meeting people who open them to fresh ideas and perspectives.
Confident people like to focus down and accomplish what they set their mind to.
But they also love to be introduced to new ways of doing things and new skills.
That’s because every new task and new talent is a chance to experience life more fully and become an even fuller person.
13) Confident people play for keeps
Confident people don’t stumble into relationships or get attached by mistake.
They play for keeps if and when they decide to commit in the game of love.
They don’t downplay their neediness or say they want casual if they want serious.
And they don’t say they want serious if they want casual.
They are forthright and direct about their intentions in romance. They aren’t clingy or desperate, but confident people also have no time or interest in “playing it cool” if they are interested.
They shoot their shot, and that’s that.
14) Confident people take care of their mind and body
Confident people don’t fake it. They’re truly confident because they take care of their equipment.
One of the top signs of a confident person (that most people miss) is simply overall wellbeing.
It’s not always a wide smile and a cheshire cat grin. It’s more of a glow.
They’re doing well, they’re in their body, and they look put together.
No matter whether the confident person is stereotypically attractive or not, he or she is living life at full optimization and it rubs off on those around them.
15) Confident people live outside the box
For a lot of us, life is too stressful to ever really get our bearings.
Just trying to survive seems to take up all our energy, and there’s no time left to look at why we’re really trying so hard and whether we’re actually living our own life.
But what if you could change this, and as a result change your life and become a truly confident person?
You see, so much of what we believe to be reality is just a construction. We can actually reshape that to create fulfilling lives that are in line with what matters most to us.
The truth is:
Once we remove the social conditioning and unrealistic expectations our family, education system, even religion has put onto us, the limits to what we can achieve is endless.
I learned this (and much more) from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandé. In this excellent free video, Rudá explains how you can lift the mental chains and get back to the core of your being.
A word of warning, Rudá isn’t your typical shaman.
He’s not going to reveal pretty words of wisdom that offer false comfort.
Instead, he’s going to force you to look at yourself in a way you have never before. It’s a powerful approach, but one that works.
So if you’re ready to take this first step and align your dreams with your reality, there’s no better place to start than with Rudá’s unique method.
16) Confident people under-promise and over-deliver
Confident people don’t like empty talk, as I’ve said.
They tend to under-promise and over-deliver, and I don’t just mean in business.
Across the board, they prefer to exceed expectations than to set the bar high and then fall under it.
Far too many politicians and elites often appear confident but are later revealed to be full of bluster. They simply promise the world and then disappear.
But the truly confident person doesn’t play that game.
They prefer to actually back up their promises with action.
17) Confident people don’t mind being wrong
Confident people are like all the rest of us. They don’t like being wrong about something, and they’d prefer to be right.
But when they are wrong, they take it on the chin and learn from it.
A confident CEO will accept that a strategy hasn’t worked and learn lessons from it.
An insecure or egotistical CEO will get angry at subordinates if his ideas fail and then double down on ineffective policies.
Confident people have a much higher success rate than egotists.
“Truly confident people don’t mind being proved wrong.
“They feel finding out what is right is a lot more important than being right. And when they’re wrong, they’re secure enough to back down graciously.”
18) Confident people find the spotlight blinding
Confident people don’t mind recognition when it comes.
But in general they prefer results and action to nice words.
That’s why they generally avoid the spotlight.
It’s one of the signs of a confident person (that most people miss).
We’re out here looking for Hollywood celebrities or big name corporate executives and wanting to bask in their life lessons and presence.
But the truly confident individual is living a fulfilling life with her husband on a quiet residential street and inventing software that will save lives in developing countries through optimizing water purification systems and feedback.
You might never hear of her, but she’s working hard for a better future and absolutely confident of success.
19) Confident people defy outer appearances
The most confident person I’ve met was outwardly unremarkable.
He wore beat-up work boots, faded Levi’s and a beige Carhartt T-shirt. I don’t know if I ever saw him change that shirt, but maybe he was like Mark Zuckerberg and just kept 20 of the same shirt in his closet.
He was my supervisor where I worked at an auto factory on night shifts.
When I saw him: OK here’s the walking stereotype in action.
But he was actually pretty unique, with a fascination for ancient Japanese culture and an interest in the market forces at work in the world economy.
He approached me as an equal and was always fair with his demands, showing me ways to improve my job performance.
When I later found out he was actually quite wealthy and did the job because he enjoyed it and wanted to keep busy, I was flummoxed.
It just goes to show…
20) Confident people do what they believe is right
A confident person does care what others think, especially those close to them. We all do!
But they don’t let others have the final word.
They do what they believe is right at the end of the day and let the chips fall where they may.
If everyone supports a war and has great reasons for doing so, the confident person stands back and decides for certain whether they also support it.
If not, they simply don’t. It doesn’t matter how bad the pressure gets to do so.
They’re not interested in living a life based on pleasing others or conforming to the group.
21) Confident people care more about action than words
Confident people watch what they say and tend to be good listeners, as I’ve mentioned.
But one of the biggest signs of a confident person (that most people miss) is that they care more about action than words.
This is part of why highly confident people can even sometimes miss the attention of the public and those around them.
It’s because they’re busy working hard, not earning attention or starting up drama around them.
“Confidence is developed by the actions you take, the habits you practice, and the skills you learn.
“Instead of asking yourself, ‘why can’t I be more confident?’ ask yourself, ‘what habits can I practice or skills can I learn to develop my self-confidence?’
“It’s a game-changer,” notes Jari Roomer.
22) Confident people never base their views on convention
Many of us grow up in environments that directly shape our views and values.
We’re all molded to some extent or other by agreement or opposition to what surrounds us, certainly.
And even the physical environment formed people into different groups in the history of evolution.
But when it comes to choosing your core values just based on what you grew up with and are expected to believe, it’s not a very confident trait.
Confident people don’t do that.
They may share the views of those close to them, they may not.
But they never base their core values on convention or fitting in, it’s just not how they roll.
23) Confident people are willing to lead when necessary
Confident people don’t seek out the limelight, as I said.
But they do lead when necessary.
When there’s a crisis, a confident person steps up to the plate if possible and finds someone else who can if not.
They never fake it, and they won’t be pretending to be a doctor during a medical crisis on an airplane.
But they also never hide their talents.
If you get a flat on the highway, a confident man will step right out and change it if he knows how, instead of waiting around for a tow truck.
24) Confident people talk with authority
Confident people prefer action over words.
But the words they do use still matter, and they choose them carefully and deliver with authority.
They speak in a way that causes others to listen, because they don’t sow their words with doubt or throw in modifiers like “maybe,” “uh,” “I think,” and “I guess” all the time.
“Confident people approach every conversation free of doubt and rich with assurance.
“That is why their voice shows firmness from the very first seconds of any conversation, which research has shown to be the most critical for perceiving authority.”
25) Confident people double down on their strengths
Confident people aren’t superheroes. They have doubts and weaknesses like all the rest of us.
But they don’t focus on those.
They focus on what they’re good at and what they love.
Then they double down on that.
In my case it’s writing. In someone else’s case it may be weightlifting or art.
Whatever it is that you excel at, when you choose to focus on it your confidence increases exponentially.
26) Confident people make firm decisions instead of waffling
Confident people think hard and come up with a reason for what they do.
But once they do make a decision, they stick to it.
That’s part of why one of the signs of a confident person (that most people miss) is that they don’t double back on decisions.
While they accept failure and disappointment and learn from it, confident people try their best to succeed.
Part of this is making a firm decision and then backing it up, instead of keeping all their options option.
Once they’re in, they’re in.
27) Confident people don’t take shit from others
As I’ve outlined in this article, confident people don’t always fit the stereotype of a swaggering alpha.
They’re generally a lot more restrained and reasonable than that kind of juvenile behavior.
At the same time, no truly confident person will take shit from someone else that’s unwarranted.
If you get up in their face, they will shut you down.
And they won’t back down from a confrontation even if it’s awkward or leads to some heated words.
“They are assertive, respectful, and polite,” notes Divine You.
“However, when boundaries are crossed, they stand up bravely for themselves and confront the situation with calmness.”
Confidence is king
Appearing confident is one thing. Being confident is something else.
As I’ve demonstrated here, true confidence isn’t about bells and whistles, it’s about the substance of what’s underneath the exterior.
A cocky person can be broken down by one crisis.
A truly confident person will rise to the challenge.
Confidence is king, because confidence is really the cousin of competence.
When you know how to do something and want to contribute, you’re not interested in receiving praise or in following the herd, you’re interested in being useful and getting things done.
That can-do spirit makes life a little better for everyone around you.