11 things confident people never do in social situations, according to psychology

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Whether introverted or extroverted, confident people have certain ground rules they never break in social situations. 

No matter your level of confidence, you can learn valuable insights about behaviors to avoid and why confident people don’t use them. 

The following habits and behaviors aren’t “bad,” they’re simply indicative of insecurity and looking for validation. 

By spotting them in ourselves and others, we can gain more emotional intelligence and learn to improve our own social success and fulfillment. 

Let’s dive in. 

1) Seek approval

Confident people don’t seek approval, they provide it. The approval or disapproval of others is not what drives them, and it’s barely even on their radar. 

Those who look for validation are most often repeating behaviors from unmet childhood needs:

As a result, they tend to push people away and create a lack of security in their relationships. 

As therapist Richard Brouillette, LCSW, notes:

“Approval-seeking schema is a pattern of thoughts and feelings repeatedly triggered in an individual who feels compelled to find the approval of others such as friends, loved ones, and coworkers.”

The bottom line: Confident individuals are comfortable with themselves and don’t rely on constant validation from others to feel good about themselves.

2) Check for laughter

This is a variant of approval seeking behavior

Those who tell a joke or say something funny and then subtly look around to check if people find it humorous. 

Confident people don’t do that. They tell a joke if they want, or they stay quiet if they want. 

Their humor has no dependency on the reaction of others, which is part of what often (ironically) makes them all the funnier. 

The bottom line: Confident people never check to see if people find them funny. They joke boldly without seeking approval or laughter.

3) Apologize excessively

There’s a time and a place to say sorry. 

But confident people don’t overdo it. They apologize when they screw up or let somebody down, but they don’t apologize for being 20 seconds late or for not responding to a message rapidly. 

They have their own life and their own priorities, and they don’t explain or apologize every little bit of that. 

Instead, they respect themselves and only say sorry when it’s actually merited. 

The bottom line: They understand that mistakes happen, but they don’t constantly apologize for every little thing, as they’re secure in themselves and their actions.

4) Over-explaining and self-justification 

Confident people don’t over-explain or justify behavior that doesn’t need to be justified.

For example, if they don’t really like lasagna they don’t say sorry or explain how they prefer Asian foods or Indian food. They just mention they prefer other dishes. 

If they have particular and unique interests that others might not share, they also don’t try to explain it overly or look for approval. 

This stands in sharp contrast to less secure folks, who often hunt around for evidence that what they like and want is “ok” or “normal.”

“Children raised in a context of being chronically overlooked, such as in a large family, or neglected, as with parents with debilitating personal problems, are missing this feedback. 

So they often feel unsure about who they are and what they need to do to feel whole,” explains Brouillette.

The bottom line: Confident people are comfortable in social settings and don’t avoid them out of fear or insecurity.

5) Hijack or steer conversations

Confident people let the conversation flow. If they need to say something immediately they absolutely do so:

But they do their best not to hijack conversations with a lot of interruptions. And they don’t “steer” conversations in a certain way. 

If they do want something specific out of an interaction they bring it up respectfully and wait for a response, rather than constantly nudging things in that direction. 

As life coach and psychological writer Sherry Gordon writes:

“Consistent interruptions by the same person not only feel like a lack of respect for you and your thoughts, but they also demonstrate apparent self-centeredness.”

The bottom line: They value active listening and allow others to speak without constantly interrupting, showing respect for different perspectives.

6) Preference falsification

Confident people aren’t afraid to stand out. 

They speak their mind if they’re asked, and they’re not afraid to be in the minority. 

This may sound like no big deal, but considering that holding unpopular political, social or religious opinions can cost you your career and friendships, it is very much a big deal. 

This is in contrast to less confident folks who engage in preference falsification, which is lying about your beliefs in order to be accepted and feel safe. 

As Sylvia R. Karasu, M.D. explains

“Preference falsification is a universal and pervasive phenomenon in which we misrepresent publicly what we really think or believe or want privately because of the fear of the consequences or because we wish to gain some benefit.”

The bottom line: While everyone experiences not fitting in and being in the minority at some point, confident individuals understand that it’s not a reflection of their worth as a person and don’t let the fear of rejection hold them back.

7) Shaping their image to fit group preferences or norms

This relates back to the point about preference falsification:

Confident people don’t try to fit into a group’s norms or image preferences.

They have their own style and their own relationship with their appearance and their weight, image and culture. They don’t need somebody else or any group of folks to approve of that. 

They aren’t afraid to stand out and to become more confident in the way that works for them, rather than dressing or looking a way that others (or the media) encourages them too. 

“Poor body image can affect a person in many ways, including performance in academics or in one’s professional career, relationship satisfaction, and overall quality of life,” notes Psychology Today magazine.

The bottom line: They are authentic and genuine in social interactions, not putting on a facade or pretending to be someone they’re not.

8) Lashing out or shutting down when criticized

There is such a thing as unfair criticism and mean-spirited attacks, and confident people will stand up to such petty offensiveness. 

But they don’t react impulsively or emotionally to criticism by lashing out or shutting down. 

If possible, they try to learn from constructive criticism and see if it has any merit. 

If there’s a chance to improve, why not take it? 

They’re confident enough not to have their core inner value and sense of self-worth threatened by the critiques or comments of somebody else, even somebody they respect or are close to. 

The bottom line: Confident individuals are open to constructive criticism and feedback, recognizing it as an opportunity for growth rather than taking it personally.

9) Engaging in comparison and point-scoring

We all have the instinct to occasionally compare ourselves to others, even confident people. 

But they minimize how often they do this, and it’s not a significant part of their life or self-image. 

They compete with themselves from yesterday, not their colleague or a friend. They’d rather focus on their own journey than keep watching what everyone else is doing or drooling in jealousy on social media. 

Let others live their lives: the confident individual has his or her own life to live.

The bottom line: They understand that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and focus on their own journey rather than constantly comparing themselves to others.

10) Being scared and hesitant to ever say no

Confident people know how to say no. 

When they’re busy, have other priorities or are asked or invited to do something which goes against their interests or values?

The answer is no. 

The answer tomorrow will still be no.

If that rubs some people the wrong way, so be it. They’d rather be true to themselves and stick to their goals than to please others and be a doormat. 

The bottom line: They set boundaries and aren’t afraid to say “no” when necessary, prioritizing their own well-being and values.

11) Name-dropping and boasting  

Confident people don’t name-drop. 

If they happen to know famous or powerful people and it’s relevant to a conversation or interaction, they will bring it up discreetly or without having an agenda. 

They aren’t boasters, and they aren’t looking for validation that they matter because of who they know. That’s for far more insecure and immature folks. 

“Name-dropping often stems from an individual’s need for acceptance and admiration from their peers,” explains A Life Well Lived. 

“By associating themselves with notable people, name-droppers hope to elevate their social standing and gain respect.”

The bottom line: Confident individuals don’t feel the need to constantly brag about their accomplishments. They let their actions speak for themselves.

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