As a society, we tend to equate confidence with loudness: loudness of personality, of fearlessness, of bold spontaneity. We think of a confident person as someone who can march into a room and command it with his power and his presence. We also tend to equate loud confidence with success: someone who sees what she wants, then stops at nothing to get it.
But a loud approach to a confident personality doesn’t fit all of us. Sure each of us can fake it here and there, and adapt when necessary. But on a day-to-day basis, a naturally quiet person can get pushed to the outskirts of the room to hang idly as a wallflower.
Enter quiet confidence, the curiously cool cousin of loud confidence. A quietly confident person has a different effect on a room full of people. He doesn’t command a room with his power and his presence; he engenders trust – individually – in each person he interacts with in that room. Quiet confidence isn’t about being loud, fearless, and boldly spontaneous: it’s about being quietly curious, thoughtful and open to a world full of possibilities.
How to Exude Quiet Confidence
Quiet confidence: Be mindful about posture
There’s a reason all those etiquette courses from days of yore emphasized good posture. While we all have different bodies, and different levels of awareness of our bodies, our posture universally and wordlessly communicates a language about our relationship to our bodies.
Having good posture isn’t about exaggerating your posture. You don’t need to puff your chest out like a rooster. But when we forget to be mindful of our posture, we tend to slouch, which – aside from being a strain on our bodies – communicates a closed-off-ness. Being mindful of keeping our chest up and shoulders naturally pulled back instantly improves our posture and communicates a quiet confidence and an openness to communication.
Posture is also about how we walk, too. Try moving the weight of your steps off your heals onto the centre of your foot. I’m not talking about walking around on tippy-toes like a ballet dancer; it’s more about encouraging mindfulness about how we carry ourselves.
Having good, natural posture is one of the easiest ways to communicate quiet confidence to the world around you.
Quiet confidence: Be a good listener
A good listener is someone who listens without judgment or discomfort. A good listener asks questions; she doesn’t give advice unless it’s asked for; and she waits until the other person is finished before speaking.
Something happens when you’re a good listener; people start to see themselves reflected in you. They start to see that they can be their unedited selves in your presence, and your quiet confidence enables a feeling of freedom in them, which has a lasting, memorable effect.
Check out my post on how to be a good listener for more tips on attuning your ears with quiet confidence.
Quiet confidence: Draw boundaries when they’re needed
There’s a misconception that drawing boundaries has a limiting effect on relationships. But what can happen if you don’t draw boundaries with the people in your life – personal or professional – is that issues start to build up inside you, until eventually you snap.
Addressing an issue with quiet confidence – whether the issue is with your boss, your partner, your family member – involves sorting out your feelings and your needs, while balancing them with the needs and feelings of the other person. Is your boss not respecting your personal time? Is your partner being too clingy? You don’t have to fight with them about it, but you can find a way to quietly and confidently explain your issue and your needs in a way that respects their feelings.
Boundaries – when drawn with quiet confidence – have the power to strengthen any relationship.
Quiet confidence: Let your pauses flourish
One of the trickiest things to master in public speaking is the pause. The urge to fill all moments with words, ums, ahs, filler statements, is difficult to resist. But the effect of a public speaker who allows silent pauses in her speech to flourish is remarkable.
The same is true not only for everyday conversations with people, but life in general. When a silent moment passes between you and another person, or even you and the world around you, pause to let it flourish. Resist the urge to fill every moment with words, music, the TV, the Internet, etc. Inviting silent moments into your everyday connects you to your own rhythm and how it fits into the rhythm of the world around you.
Quiet confidence is about self-awareness, and nowhere are you more self-aware than during silent moments – whether you’re alone at the time, or with others.
Quiet confidence: Don’t judge others
When we see insecurities in other people that we feel about ourselves, we sometimes have the tendency to judge them as a means of distancing ourselves from that insecurity. That’s what judging is always about – it’s never about the other person, it’s always about the person doing the judging.
Nobody’s perfect, either. I’m not perfect – I don’t walk around with a judgment free view of the world. We all do it. But the choice to act on judgments or voice them openly is what separates someone who lacks confidence from the person with quiet confidence who doesn’t need to knock others down to build himself up.
Quiet confidence: Ask for advice
Another commonly held belief about a confident person is that he lacks vulnerability. On the contrary, we are all vulnerable – every single one of us. It’s how we express that vulnerability that matters.
One of the best ways to confidently express vulnerability is to ask for advice and be genuinely open to what the other person has to offer. Our vulnerabilities are often about uncertainties in our lives: Is what I’m feeling normal? What should I do about such and such situation? Is it reasonable for me to want what I want?
Ask others! Be open to the possibility that your subjective experience of yourself could benefit from an objective perspective from the outside world. This is a truly brave possibility to be open to, and it builds a quiet confidence inside you that subjectivity dismantles.
Quiet confidence: Celebrate your quiet self
You are a cool creature! You live among a world full of people and yet you revel in your quiet alone time. You see interesting things where others see them plain as day. You are creative. You are not an open book – but you are a well-written novel that people want to open and take the time to read – and if they don’t have time to read it, that’s okay too (because there will be a movie made about you they can watch).
You might be wondering: But what if I don’t feel confident?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: confidence is as much about believing in yourself as it is about faking it ’til you make it. Confidence is as much about the interior, self-aware feelings an individual person has as it is about how that persons relates to others. When you act confidently around others, and they respond to that confidence, you begin to see your confident self (even if you’re faking it) reflected in that person. And that builds quiet confidence.
Start at the beginning. Start by celebrating your quiet self, and from this celebratory approach a seed of quiet confidence will be planted inside you. Once planted, that seed will begin to grow – and as it grows your quiet confidence will grow along with it. Until – one day off in the future – the loudest thing in that room full of noisy people will be your quiet, confident footsteps as you walk through the door.