How do you know if someone is really confident or just putting on an act?
We hear the slogan “fake it ‘til you make it” so often these days that it can be really hard to know when someone is genuine or not.
Then again, there are certain clues that we can look for.
Truly confident people will remain so even in the face of adversity, while false confidence can shatter like glass. Real self-confidence is built of real trust in yourself and your abilities and is something that can’t be denied.
These eight signs someone is genuinely confident, according to psychology, can help you separate real confidence from its shallow imitation.
1) They’re open-minded and willing to try new things.
It makes a lot of sense that confident people would be happier and more inclined to try new things than people who have little confidence.
Because they feel like they know and trust their abilities, and so they’re not afraid to fail. That’s what makes most unconfident people steer away from new experiences.
They’re also more open-minded and able to listen to new ideas that may challenge their own. People who lack confidence may close down and scramble for more supporting evidence when their ideas are challenged, but confident people can handle the challenge.
They’re more open to looking at evidence that might lead them to think in a new way or teach them something new.
In other words, the more confident someone is in their own ideas, the more open they seem to be to contradictory evidence and the more likely they might change their minds if properly convinced.
People with lower levels of confidence will tend to hold tighter to their pre-existing ideas, even in the face of proof they’re wrong.
2) They’re bold and courageous.
Confident people are often very courageous.
They’re bold enough to ask for the things they feel they deserve. They’re also not afraid to ask for help when they need it.
This doesn’t affect their confidence.
In fact, if anything, it’s a sign that they’re confident enough in themselves that they don’t feel shy or embarrassed to seek help from others. They recognize their own abilities and know when they don’t have the skills to do something themselves.
What can often happen is that people actually have the courage to try new things and take on new responsibilities first, and by doing so and succeeding, they build confidence in themselves.
And they’re not just courageous for themselves, either.
Confident people usually demonstrate the courage to stand up for others and do what’s right by them, even when that goes against the status quo.
3) They don’t give up easily.
Confident people believe they can succeed at the tasks they choose to undertake.
They have trust in their own capabilities and judgment, and that leads them to believe they can do it even when others don’t.
They don’t let other people’s beliefs and attitudes get in their way. Neither do they let setbacks lead them to give up.
Think about great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Coretta Scott King, and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
King kept fighting for equality and justice even after the assassination of her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gandhi fought for decades against colonial rule in India despite being imprisoned and beaten by authorities.
Clearly, people like this have great confidence to continue to do the things they know are right and just, even in the face of great adversity.
4) They’re motivated.
Why would people who are confident be more motivated than those who aren’t?
Motivation is a tricky factor to define. We can think of motivations as the reasons, either conscious or subconscious, that people do things. It’s what moves people to action.
Well, we can illustrate this idea with a simple scenario.
Let’s bring two relatively new skiers up to the top of an ultra-steep run like a double black diamond. One of the skiers is very confident, while the other lacks self-confidence.
Who do you think is more likely to try to ski down the run?
The unconfident skier will surely turn away from the challenge. They would take one look at it and think, “There’s no way I can do that!”
What would the confident skier do? They probably wouldn’t just recklessly speed down the hill. They understand their own abilities well enough to know that would end in disaster.
But they might instead try to pick their way down slowly. And, in fact, they do – I’ve seen it many times.
And they usually succeed. By trying out the hard run, they’re also motivated to learn to become even better skiers. This makes them want to find out tricks for challenging such steep slopes so one day they can really speed down them properly.
This can be applied to any aspect of their lives, from work to relationships as well.
5) They’re emotionally stable.
Emotional stability is the ability to regulate emotional states and urges and to deal with negative situations.
This is the opposite of neuroticism, which is a personality trait that focuses on negative emotions, poor regulation, a tendency to complain, and difficulty dealing with stress and perceived threats.
Just by looking at these definitions, we can start to see why a confident person would be more stable and less neurotic.
Confident people are sure of themselves and trust in their abilities and their opinions. They don’t worry so much about being contradicted by others.
They also don’t feel the same need to complain. They are better able to recognize the things they can and can’t control. They would try to change things they can have some effect on and don’t waste time complaining about things they have no power over.
In contrast, a person who lacks genuine confidence is going to struggle when challenged. They might get very defensive or feel stressed because of any perceived threats to their ideas or beliefs.
6) They welcome challenges.
One sign that someone is genuinely confident is that they welcome challenges.
What does this mean?
We can interpret this in two ways, and both still apply.
On the one hand, “challenges” can mean other people disagreeing with their ideas and beliefs.
As we’ve already seen, confident people are able to handle these sorts of intellectual challenges well because they’re both emotionally stable and open-minded.
This allows them to be more objective and not take challenges as personal attacks. They can also look at evidence that supports other positions objectively and evaluate it fairly.
At the same time, we can think of “challenges” as opportunities to test their skills.
When people are genuinely confident, they have a sense of competence and believe they’re capable of dealing with different situations.
To them, challenges are interesting opportunities and not situations that threaten them.
They are usually eager to see how much they know and how well they can do on everything from intellectual challenges to new work projects to physical challenges.
7) They’re good at making decisions.
Every day, all day, we have to make decisions.
These can be quick and relatively unimportant, like deciding which color of socks to wear, or they can be crucial decisions, like choosing who to date, that greatly affect our lives.
Though some people tend to avoid decisions as much as possible, there’s no avoiding them altogether.
More self-confident people, however, tend to be better at making decisions and don’t shy away from them. They’re able to weigh their options and make decisions that they feel confident are correct as well.
How does this skill work?
First of all, they’re less afraid of making mistakes and, therefore, feel more comfortable when they’re faced with choices.
Second, they can actually build confidence in their own decisions by paying close attention to the details of the choices. This helps them assess which is actually right for them and increases their feelings of confidence in their decisions.
When confident people feel like they didn’t pay enough attention to the details of their choices, they’re also better able to revise their decisions for the better.
8) They’re less afraid of confrontation.
Most people find the prospect of confronting a family member or coworker over an important issue positively dreadful.
Those of us who choose to avoid conflicts tend to do so out of fear but also because we’re focused on the downsides of what could occur. The other person might end up hating us, or we might look aggressive or mean.
However, when people have more confidence, they’re able to look at confrontations as opportunities to clear the air. They see the negatives but also the positives of conflicts and resolving them.
Practicing conflict resolution and confronting others when necessary can also build more self-confidence and self-respect.
According to psychology, these eight signs show that someone is genuinely confident.
Hopefully, they’re very familiar to you. But if not, these are areas you can work on to build your own confidence.